Quiz: Are You a “Tigger” or an “Eeyore”? Plus a Few Points to Consider.

Are you a “Tigger” or an “Eeyore”? Plus a few points to consider.

I can’t stop thinking about the difficult dynamic between Tiggers and Eeyores. This is a major insight for me! I’m excited! Having an original idea is a rare treat. (As so often happens with an original idea, once I have it, I’m struck by how obvious it is. I spend a lot of time trying to discern the obvious.)

In the posts Are you annoyed by excessively cheery people? Or extremely gloomy people?, Parts One and Two, I set forth my evolving ideas about how people react to each other’s pronounced positivity or negativity. I’ve been trying to understand what happens when a “Tigger” and an “Eeyore” clash, which seems to be a common happiness hurdle. I want to thank everyone who has commented, because your observations have helped me so much as I think through this issue.

And now, for a quiz!

Do you know whether you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore? And if you are a Tigger or an Eeyore, do you realize that you may be fostering the very behavior in your counterpart that you hope will change?

Check the statements apply to you:

If you’re a Tigger, you say things like…
___“Happiness is a choice.”
___ “Look on the bright side.”
___ “Smile!”
___ “Fake it ‘till you feel it.”
Tiggers believe that their point of view is more socially valuable, more thoughtful, more realistic, and more morally admirable than that of Eeyores.

If you’re an Eeyore, you say things like…
___ “No one can be cheerful all the time. It’s fake.”
___ “Thinking the glass is always half-full isn’t realistic. It’s self-deception.”
___ “If someone asks me, ‘How are you?’ I’m going to tell the truth, even if people don’t want an honest answer.”
___ “Authenticity is important to me. I hate phonies.”
Eeyores believe that their point of view is more socially valuable, more thoughtful, more realistic, and more morally admirable than that of Tiggers.

Tensions arise when a Tigger and an Eeyore strive to convert each other. The more they try to convince each other to adopt a different perspective, the more the other resists. Tiggers fear being dragged down by the Eeyores, and Eeyores feel resentful and irritated by the Tiggers’ insistent cheer.

Tiggers: remember, you can’t make someone happy. Let your happiness naturally rub off on the Eeyores, but don’t exhaust yourself trying to jolly them along. Telling Eeyores “Cheer up!” or refusing to acknowledge anything negative won’t make them cheerier. Your effort will just drain you, and it will irritate the Eeyores – in fact, they’ll probably hold more stubbornly to their worldview, and may become even more intensely negative to counter-balance your positivity. The opposite of what you want!

They may feel that you’re being intolerant of people who think differently from you, and that you want to deny and invalidate their point of view. Your attempts to bring cheer may feel intrusive and suffocating.

Eeyores: remember, you believe you’re being “realistic” and “honest,” but Tiggers may find you gloomy and critical. Because your downbeat emotions are catching (a phenomenon called “emotional contagion”), they dread being sucked into your negativity.

Remember, too, that while you believe that some Tiggers are “fake,” their extreme cheerfulness may be in reaction to you – yes, you may be inciting the very Tiggerness that is driving you crazy! – as a counter-balance against your attitudes; or the extreme cheerfulness may be in reaction to some major happiness challenge elsewhere in their lives. Cut them a little slack.

Research and experience show that the “fake it ‘till you feel it” strategy really does work. People who act happier, friendlier, and more energetic will help themselves feel happier, friendlier, and more energetic (the opposite is also true). Tiggers often act Tiggerish because they’re trying to keep that Tigger flame alive.

For both Tiggers and Eeyores, a good strategy is not to try to make conversions. These efforts are depleting, frustrating, and even worse—polarizing. People may become more Tiggerish, or more Eeyorish, the more vehemently you present the opposing viewpoint. You say you’re trying to be helpful, but are you really helping? Are your words having the effect you want? Tiggers and Eeyores alike are often proud of their identities; they aren’t going to be talked out of them.

And a special note to the Eeyores: the fact is, most people don’t like feeling down. One of the most common happiness questions I hear is, “How do I protect myself from someone who is constantly negative?” If being around you is a downer, many people will try to avoid you or insulate themselves from you. Whether or not this should be true, it is true. Think about it.

So what to do? Tiggers, Eeyores, let your actions and attitude speak for themselves. Do what’s right for you, and don’t worry about explicitly persuading other people to change their views (even if you know you’re right). Don’t flatly deny someone’s viewpoint – “Things aren’t that bad!” “You have to face facts!” – but briefly acknowledge their perspective. Be yourself. As Samuel Johnson observed, “Example is always more efficacious than precepts.”

Referring to Winnie-the-Pooh perhaps put me in mind to recall one of my favorite scenes in all of children’s literature – the delicious defense of Lucy in C. S. Lewis’s Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lucy has told her brothers and sister that she’s traveled through a wardrobe into the magical kingdom of Narnia. They think that she’s either lying or going mad. The two oldest children consult with the elderly Professor:

“But what are we to do?” said Susan. She felt that the conversation was beginning to get off the point.
“My dear young lady,” said the Professor, suddenly looking up with a very sharp expression at both of them, “there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying.”
“What’s that?” said Susan.
“We might all try minding our own business,” said he. And that was the end of that conversation.

I’m still thinking this through and may not be understanding the dynamic clearly. If you’re so inclined, please comment about your experiences; I so appreciate hearing them.

  • Julie Kalitis

    I’m neither fully a Tigger nor an Eeyore. I’m a Pooh. Stable, phlegmatic, not too happy, not too sad. Have you read “The Tao of Pooh”? There are some concepts in there that are similar to the ones you are talking about.

    • Deirdre

      I too thought of Tao of Pooh—the author seemed to have the same insight that these characters represent major archtypes. And not only do the two often try to convert each other, they often seem to marry each other:) Yin & Yang.

      Also thought of David Rakoff (a great Eeyore) and his new book Half Empty (the title says it all). Also Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-sided.

      Also this exchange from Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady:

      “Well, if you’re bent on being miserable I don’t see why you should make me so. Whatever charms a life of misery may have for you, it has none for me.”

      “I’m not bent on a life of misery,” said Isabel. “I’ve always been intensely determined to be happy, and I’ve often believed I should be. I’ve told people that; you can ask them. But it comes over me every now and then that I can never be happy in any extraordinary way; not by turning away, by separating myself.”

      “By separating yourself from what?”

      “From life. From the usual chances and dangers, from what most people know and suffer.”

      Lastly, while men and women are obviously both, I’ve always felt a clear expectation for women to express less of their Eeyore feelings. I can’t even think of a male “Mary Poppins” or Doris Day or Pollyanna character in our culture but there are numerous examples for women that dictate a bit of Tigger’s outlook. And just as many well-known male characters who are sardonic and pessimistic. Very few female ones. Female Eeyore’s obviously exist, but they aren’t as accepted, in my opinion, as the male Eeyores.

      Sorry to have gone on at length here. But I have to add—Eeyore’s are just as annoyed but much less likely than a Tigger to email you about what to do about the exhaustingly positive people in their life. Surely you realize you hear from more Tiggers than Eeyore’s in general.

      Thanks for all the food for thought—and all the inspiration gathered here!

      • imagine

        I would consider myself to be highly aware of gender divisions, and I would have to say I’ve never noticed that women are expected to be more cheerful than men. I don’t know about the US but certainly here in the UK there are plenty of famous female Eeyores, the comedienne Jo Brand makes a living out of it for example. Equally there are plenty of male tiggers and cheerful male comedians are one example. Having worked solely with men for much of my career (I am female) I would say I have experienced plenty of guys being told to “Cheer up,” or “Smile” by male co-workers, and think it is a stretch to say this is a gender issue.

        I really enjoyed the rest of your post Deirdre.

        • Deirdre

          Can you think of any well-known female Eeyore in literature or film? And if so, was her perspective not her downfall?

          I can think of dozens of female Tiggers and male Eeyores: Harry met Sally for example. But I can’t think of the opposite matching in film or lit.

          In real life, I can think of many female Eeyores, and almost all comedians are Eeyores by the nature of the role (to point out the painfully funny—not the happy inspiration of life). Paula Poundstone comes to mind here in the US. And policitcal female Eeyores come to mind—because of course in reality there are lots. But not in our culture depictions. I couldn’t help sharing this with my girlfriends yesterday and it was interesting how those who lean a bit toward the Eeyore view responded like it was a given that women are expected to be happy or at least cheerful, just as much as thin, pretty and quiet are subtle feminine expectations in our culture. However my naturaly cheerful friends thought we were totally wrong:)

  • R Sparks Newcomb

    I think of myself as an Eeyore, but I would never say the things you list! Have you read Sharon Shinn’s Wrapt in Crystal? It’s a sci-fi murder mystery about a civilization with two sects that worship the same goddess; one that focuses on joy, one that is austere and severe. The people of the planet respect both, but lean to one side or the other. I think it would be a fun read for you in your current bend, and perhaps shed more light to Eeyores.

    • Leslie

      I am adding Wrapt in Crystal to my reading list right now! It sounds fascinating.

    • R Sparks Newcomb

      I think it’s the little second comments that make me feel like your eeyore’s are super rude! You didn’t do that for the Tigers, like

      “Happiness is a choice, so if you’re unhappy it’s your fault.”

      This list is a little better.
      ___ “No one can be cheerful all the time.”
      ___ “The sour in life is what makes one appreciate the sweet. ”
      ___ “If someone asks me, ‘How are you?’ I’m going to tell the truth.”
      ___ “Authenticity is important to me.”

      • gretchenrubin

        I based those statements on the comments from the other posts, when people
        were explaining their views as Eeyores as Tiggers. I tried to use their
        exact terms and capture the effect.

        I tried to capture each side.

        Because in fact, to an Eeyore, it’s SUPER rude when a Tigger admonishes
        someone to “Smile!” (as one commenter pointed out). Eeyores do often use
        words like ‘phoniness” and describe other people as “fake.” They do insist
        that it shows intense lack of self-awareness to be cheerful all the time.
        They do think it’s unrealistic to say “Always look on the bright side.”

        In my experience, Eeyores don’t frame their views like “The sour in life is
        what makes one appreciate the sweet.” That’s not how they would say it.
        That’s actually something Tiggers would say.

        I think you’re right with your proposed “Happiness is a choice, so if you’re
        unhappy it’s your decision (and maybe even your fault).” That is how the
        Eeyores see it, and can be the effect of the Tiggers’ attempt to MAKE people

        Just as Eeyores often don’t realize how threatening others find their
        negativity, Tiggers don’t realize that their attempts to make others happy
        is often QUITE unappreciated.

        Eeyores, speak up! did I get that right?

        • Ameliaa

          For me, it’s not that my tigger-husband’s attempts are unappreciated, it’s that they indicate that we are missing each other, and that is the thing that deepens the Eeyore-ness, as I feel the aloneness of not being seen, or reached, and I have fears and feeling about that. A poster before said it, being met is what the Eeyore-ish one wants. It’s like ‘I have something close to my heart that I have sad, scary or similar feelings about. Please value my heart by looking with me”. And if the other person doesn’t, and responds with a cheer-up instead of a clear “I’m not up for that” or similar, the discomfort increases with the feeling of being rejected. If a tigger’s attempt to cheer up an Eeoyore is about the Tigger’s feelings, it will not benefit the Eeyore. For such a tigger I would prescribe a buddhist or similar meditiation retreat, until you can know and live that your own natural happiness is never under threat from another person, only from your own unprocessed reactions to others’ stuff. This from a prior Pollyanna, who fell into a great depression when I was severely dsimissed by my brother in hospital after his third suicide attempt. I wanted his happiness, but I also was wedded to being someone who could bring it about, and that I now feel is what he dissed me for, that in his state I did not just receive him, give his reality a place in me, process my reactions to it so that I wasn’t trying to get away from it, and only then, add my own love and light to it, but only silently, at first. Big breath. Big topic. Thank you

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks, I’ll check it out. Haven’t read that one!

  • Leslie

    Based on the quiz, I am neither and both. I’d generally consider myself an Eeyore, but I can’t imagine saying most of the things on the list, and I don’t really regard that as being socially valuable, thoughtful, or morally superior.

    Being with either a Tigger or an Eeyore tends to bring out the opposite in me.

    • gretchenrubin

      That’s the thing! No matter how you start out, if you’re hit too hard with
      someone’s Tigger/Eeyoreness, it throws you into the other camp. It’s hard
      not to try to counter-balance, to resist.

  • Congrads on the original thought! I totally understand how you feel! It was always easier to be considered “creative” when your job is not about being creative! I had to write a lot this semester(my last semester in college) and I feel my thoughts are getting dry, which is an experience I never had before! I always had so many things to write and to talk about. I guess it is hard when you are writer because you are constantly under the pressure of producing something creative when it is not something that could be forced. It puts you in a frustrating situation.

    I think I am more of an Eeyore and I try my best to mind my own business, because it is such a big waste of energy to try to “be right.” I also there has to be unhappy moments to highlight the happiness, right? If the switch of the “happiness” is on, then we are habituated to the “happy light” in the room and we will take it for granted eventually.

  • Anne

    I agree it’s a good idea to avoid the temptation to convert someone to your way of thinking. It is intrusive, just as religious proselytizing is. Live and let live, and if someone really annoys you that much then just try to avoid them if you can.

  • maryarrrr

    Actually, I consider being told to smile borderline offensive. It is incredibly gendered, and assumes that it is women’s responsibility to be attractive and pleasant and make everyone around them happy. Looking back on the previous threads, the Tiggers are almost all female. I realize that part of the reason Tiggers annoy me is that very often what they are doing is gender policing – demanding what they consider to be appropriate feminine behavior.

    Even in your description of Tigger behavior above – all the Tigger sayings are demands for specific behavior from another person. The Eeyores are simply stating their own reality.

    Gretchen, I think you should consider that some of the reason you aren’t seeing all these Tiggers is that you have enough social status that people don’t demand this kind of emotional work from you. My guess from knowing your background is that even when feeling down, you are able to keep a socially appropriate demeanor. Some of what people are calling “fakeness” is that they realize on some level that Tigger wouldn’t be telling his or her boss or teacher or pastor to smile or just cheer up.

    I’m actually a reasonably cheerful person. I’ve taken positive psychology and I know that acting happy does make you feel better. It’s worked for me. But Tiggers – demanding that other people act happy to make you feel better is not something a nice person does.

    • Thank you maryarrr, this is the first time I’m writing here and I usually don’t like crowded forums or blogs. But your insight about “Tiggers” being usually females really stroke me. You are right and in order for resolutions such as “cheer up” to be effective, they should be free of any gender-flavour. It is obviously not true that men are (or ought to be) realistic and down-to-earth and women are Pollyannas and it is stupid to build our own jails.

      • gretchenrubin

        This is interesting! I really didn’t see this as a gender-specific issue. I
        certainly know lots of female Eeyores (I know more Eeyores than Tiggers).
        And male Tiggers.

        What is the experience of other people?

        • Peninith1

          I think it would be interesting to ask the MEN who are reading here how many of THEM have been walking along in their own thoughts and suddenly had some perfectly strange man (it’s always a man) say to them “come on, SMILE!” I have had that experience pretty often, and it always seems intrusive, demanding and annoying even if it is ‘well meant.’ Rarely has it interrupted me in miserable thoughts or unhappiness, it has just been some stranger sort of demanding the gift of a response from me. I do not like it. And oh, as I have aged and become grey and ‘invisible’ this has happened less and less often. I agree, Gretchen, that both men and women are tiggers, and I am not at all sure that this ‘smile’ demand is always from a tigger to an eyeore. But I betcha it’s almost always from a man to a woman!

        • Sunshinecook

          I’d bet a million bucks that natural temperaments distributed equally across gender lines. But I totally agree with the other commenters that there is a very gendered element in the ways that people are allowed/encouraged to express those temperaments. I can hardly imagine a grown man telling another grown man he’d never met to smile or cheer up…. but it happens to women all the time! (Of course, Mens expressions are policed too along different lines–watching two guys who have internalized macho/homophobic attitudes try express affection with anything but an actual hug can be kind of comedic. But that has less to bear on this point.)

        • HappyL

          My boyfriend is a Tigger. It is interesting because at a different stage in my life I would have called myself a Tigger, but now in our relationship he is more the Tigger and I am more the Eeyore. I find this difficult sometimes and we do have clashes when trying to relate to each other, because he will make light of things which I will dwell on. I have to let him be himself (at his own Tigger-level) and I am working on getting back to a level of my own Tigger-ish-ness which I can feel happy with. Otherwise his Extreme-Tigger will outweigh my little-tigger and this does turn me more towards an Eeyore and I start to think I’m the only one who worries about things or takes issues seriously …

          • gretchenrubin

            This is the thing! Sometimes being around a Tigger makes a person Tiggerish,
            sometimes it throws them into a counter-balancing Eeyore. And vice versa.

          • Sivvy

            Yes! I find that when I am feeling especially perky that this triggers a Puddleglum response in others; and vice versa. However, I have noticed since becoming more middle-aged than “young” that people are smiling at me…a LOT. So I figure I must have my “public” face in a reasonably positive, smile-curving-up but not noxious grin. So. But it does seem to be almost a yin/yang thang unless a person is an extreme Tigger or an extreme Eeyore, in which case I try to avoid those people and I try to avoid ACTING like those people. Since becoming “middle aged” when people ask, “How ya doin’?” I always say, “Great! How’re you?”

          • gretchenrubin

            Puddleglum! Yes! Thank you for expanding our world of literary allusions —
            and he is one of my FAVORITES. And I also read that of the characters he
            created, Puddleglum as one of C.S. Lewis’s favorites, too. Or was it
            Reepicheep? Maybe both of them.

        • Mel Moore

          I think there are more Eeyores – period. People think it’s cool to be aloof and non-chalant about any and everything. They think to have a “I don’t give a f-ck” attitude makes them interesting. I disagree. It’s easy to find the imperfection in life but it’s harder to appreciate the value and even beauty in mud. Yet when someone does, here comes an Eeoyore to “correct” the “misperception”. I’m sorry but I don’t know very many Tiggers of either gender and honestly, I think more women express their Eeoyoreness than men. Men tend not to be emotional about someone telling them to “smile” or to “look on the bright side”… They tend to shrug off an idea they don’t agree w/ and keep on moving. Women on the other hand, try to tie-in some anthropologic, sexist gender-cide agenda to someone telling them to “cheer up…” SMH…Women like to complain about both the sun and the rain and label it as “insightful” and “comtemplative” when really, it’s just warm light and water. Thank goodness for both…thank goodness for Tiggers and Eeyores, too!

    • gretchenrubin

      Several interesting points here.

      The Tiggers I have known have been both men and women.

      I think Tiggers are trying to shape people’s behavior because they believe
      (and which research shows to be effective and which you point out) that if
      people act and behave in cheerier ways, they’ll tend to feel happier. Also,
      they are trying to protect themselves from the negativity of the Eeyores by
      eliminating that behavior. They’re trying to “cure” the Eeyores out of an
      instinct of self-preservation. If the Eeyore would be happier, that Eeyore
      wouldn’t be a threat to the Tigger’s happiness.

      Eeyores may be stating their own reality. However, when they try to MAKE
      people see things their way, or when they try to make Tiggers see things
      “realistically,” they quickly spread negative feelings to others who don’t
      want to catch them. (Tiggers don’t realize that they are also dragging down
      the Eeyores, in their own way–as you say, telling someone “Smile!” to MAKE
      them happy doesn’t work.

      As I mentioned above, one of the top three questions that I’m asked about
      happiness is this: “I have someone in my life who drags me down with
      relentless negativity. How do I shield myself from this influence?” This is
      a powerful instinct and a common problem. Something for Eeyores to consider.

      BUT I’m struck in the comments by just how annoying people find Tiggerish
      behavior. I suspect that Tiggers have no idea about this. Reminds me of the
      study about random acts of kindness — when you make a random act of
      kindness, it makes YOU happier, but not the recipient. They are just
      confused and a bit suspicious. Tiggers think that by telling people how to
      think more happy, they’re spreading happiness, and they may make themselves
      happier — but sure seems like it doesn’t work on the Eeyores.

      To sum up! I’m getting so long-winded about this. How’s this???

      “Happy people make people happy — but you can’t MAKE someone happy.”

    • This is so true! I’ve had this conversation so many times, the one where I point out that only strange men on the street who made me vaguely uncomfortable told me to “Smile!” “Cheer up! It’s not that bad!” or “Hey, you dropped something-your smile!” The men I have told about this were amused and confused- because men don’t say that kind of thing to other men. They say it to women because we’re supposed to be “here to entertain them”, as a homosexual male friend surmised. And the women I’ve brought it up with have usually thought for a minute and then said, “Yeah, that is annoying”. I guess I sound like a mighty Eeyore at this point but I’m just glad someone else brought this up. It happened to me more when I was younger and cuter, now people see me struggling with young children and get out of the way, lol. The thing that got me so miffed is I thought I was just walking along, I didn’t think not smiling would get strangers so worried.
      A friend from St. Petersburg said people there would think you were crazy for smiling when by yourself on the street and whatnot. I always wondered if that was true..

      • Leticia

        Wow, I had not noticed that the guys were exempt from this.

        I have what I call a “bitch face” in the sense that my face, in repose – when I am not conveying any emotion, looks pretty pissed off. I learned of this when people took pictures of me without my knowledge. I remember feeling positive in many of those situations, but my face said it loudly “get out of my way or I’ll bite”.

        That alone granted me many “Cheer up!” comments, but here in Brazil the commenters are mostly women. Other than the odd perv on the street screaming something to that effect, most people that think I should smile more, or wear make up, or dress differently are women. Women, I feel, are very quick to pass judgement on other women and to internalize the “patriarchy”.

        But as the first commenter said, this is all about trying to push your world view or internal dialogue on to others. Live and let live and we are done with this discussion.

    • Phoenix1920

      I am very much a Tigger, but Tigger’s statements are not necessarily directing another person in how that person should act/feel. I say all of those things–but only to myself. When I’m faced with a situation that makes me upset and I have to decide whether to hold onto to the anger or let it go, I tell myself that happiness is a choice, as is my anger, and which one to I want to feel. By being a Tigger, I don’t expect other people to also be Tiggers or for them to cheer up. I say those things to myself, because it works in making me stay happy. I know somebody else that thought I was fake before-which frustrates me on some level because I’m chosing to act how I want to feel–and it works. On the other hand, if somebody is gloomy, I will soak up that mood if I’d around, so I simply have learned to stop hanging around people that are too focused on what is not right in life.

      • Mel Moore

        I agree, Phoenix. Both examples are extreme and people that fall on either end of the spectrum are annoying. We all need to find a middle ground in everything; to stop being so rigid in our thinking and behavior. Life and it’s exchanges should be authentic and organic, yet everybody’s got a “profile”, image or slogan they want to live by…phonies – Eeyores and Tiggers alike. But if I had to choose between associating w/ an upbeat, optimist or an aloof realist, I’d choose the optimist. Think about it…or don’t – it’s your choice, it’s your life. Do what you want…within reason…

  • Barbora Stastna

    What a clever idea! I think there are also a lot of Rabbits, Owls, Kangas and Piglets around me :))

  • Barbora Stastna

    One more suggestion: I think that the most irritating quality of Eeyore is not his negativity but his passive-agressive behavior. But I love sometimes his sarcasm.

  • Sharon

    One thing in this that resonated with me? “If being around you is a downer, many people will try to avoid you or insulate themselves from you.” Generalizing, some people see the world and life as an exciting treasure box just waiting to be explored – and whatever happens, they more often than not find something good and positive in the outcomes. Some people see the world and life as a fearful and dangerous place, just waiting to pounce on them – and more often than not they find something bad and negative in the outcomes. Speaking from personal experience, it is very difficult for such polar opposites to find a common ground and sustain a successful relationship (defined as actually enjoying each other’s company enough to keep the relationship going).

  • Reading this post reminds me of the wonderful book “The Tao of Pooh”. It discusses much of the same points you talk about here but it also sheds light on what a Piglet, Rabbit and Pooh is. Thanks for starting the discussion about our nature and how that effects our desire for happiness.

  • LivewithFlair

    I was an Eeyore who converted to a Tigger, so there is something to be said about helping someone who feels down. My dad gave me “The Power of Positive Thinking,” which I resisted at first. But he told me that when his father was killed in a car accident, his uncle gave him that book which was so popular in the 1950’s. I didn’t want to read it. I thought it was a “false gospel” of having happy thoughts. But it did help me see how negative thinking becomes toxic and reflects a worldview that God is not good or powerful. For me, happiness is a spiritual perspective based on those two truth claims: God is good and in control of my life, so I can have joy even in hard times. Now, I really want to find the beauty of everyday and manage negative moods. http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com

  • Peninith1

    OK, Gretchen, now I think it is time to take this all to the next deeper level. All this ‘tigger’ ‘eyore’ stuff is really about our self talk and world view. I am a person who spent the first part of my life as a definite eyeore, deriving a lot of drama and sense of having ‘depth and intensity’ by cultivating my tragic view of life. Then, for several years, I spent time in a 12 step program and had the golden opportunity to listen to dozens of other people facing and coping with problems similar to mine in different ways. I could actually watch people making positive and negative attitude-driven choices for coping with similar real-world situations. It became clearer and clearer to me that my ‘that’s just the way I am’ feeling about being a tragic world-view person truly was a choice and that I could have other ways of coping and acting that might have different results for me. But at the same time I learned the wonderul principle of ‘take what you like and leave the rest’. I came to understand that my ‘what I like’ might change over time, that my choices of how to respond to events HAVE changed over time, and my attitudes are more balanced. Protected by the certain knowledge that I DO have a choice, I don’t any longer feel as pushed around by other peoples emotional tone and ‘weather pattern.’ I am ever more able to choose where I place my thoughts, and consequently am no longer as victimized by my feelings. I think this discussion has been very valuable because it raises our awareness that everyone not only has his/her own reality to deal with, but we all have different sets of abilities and attitudes for dealing. I have come to be able to love and appreciate the genuine Tiggers in my life, overflowing with a natural and unforced joy. I am wary of the ‘fake’ tiggers and those who try to impose their negativity on me. And as for me, I do try always to take the ‘middle way’–realizing that I am easily pushed over into negative hypochondria about the future, and workiing to keep myself focused on the good that is available in the present.

  • Liz

    The only reason I even score close to being a Tigger is The Happiness Project. More than once a day something from the book or blog comes to mind. This week it’s your discussion of gold stars. Protect your joyous ones comes up a lot too!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much! I so appreciate hearing that. Makes me very HAPPY!

  • D. Knox

    I am just giggling about the book that Milne didn’t write. The one where Tigger goes home, takes off his happy face and his bouncy, bouncy tail, pours himself a stiff drink, and collapses into a heap of anguish and exhaustion from fighting the angst all day. Now that’s a Tigger that has some resonance.

  • Mdavis1

    I think I have both Tigger and Eeyore tendencies. Does that mean I’m well-balanced or schizophrenic? Actually, I’m more of a Tigger. I went through a terrifying depression about ten years ago, and, thanks to the marvels of modern chemistry, I am now actually happy. If someone is having an Eeyore kind of day, I try to listen with sympathy and refrain from giving advice. Just because a person is the opposite of you, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

  • KathyH

    Why does it have to be one way or the other? It’s useful, I guess, to so cleanly divide people into one category or the other. That’s a very Western way of thinking. I find that I fall somewhere in the middle. I can be happy and upbeat when I feel happy and upbeat, and I can be gloomy when I feel gloomy. In this sharp division that’s presented here, where would I fall? I think each side, at the extreme, is equally irritating and unattractive. Why would anyone want to stay around a bouncing Tigger all the time or a gloomy Eeore all the time? There are supremely irritating qualities (as well as supremely admirable qualities) in both of them. Plus, Gretchen, I think you’re being a little unfair to the Eeyores of the world. There are times when seeing the dangers and the dark side is entirely appropriate. Sometimes, we need to run from danger rather than approach it with over cheeriness. Every person has something to offer…take it a little easier on the Eeyores of the world, please. Maybe my Eeyore side is showing a little here, do you think?

    • gretchenrubin

      You’re right, I think I have been too hard on the Eeyores. Writing these
      posts and reading the comments has made me realize that the Tiggers put a
      strain on people in their own way.

      What’s interesting to me is how sometimes, when people have tendencies in
      both directions (which is true of most of us, we’re a mix), their Tiggerish
      or Eeyorish sides come out to COUNTER-BALANCE what someone else is doing. So
      you may feel like you have both sides in you — but one side might be
      brought out by someone else’s behavior or talk.

      There is a tendency to consider people in isolation, just by themselves, but
      in fact, different parts of ourselves are brought out in response to the
      people around us. Being around a Tigger may make you feel more Tiggerish
      (which is what they hope to do) or more Eeyorish! And vice versa.

      • Huiek

        True – none of us lives or acts in a vacuum. Western thought encourages us to engage in either/or thinking…we’re either this or we’re that. Causes lots of problems, as we all know. I do try to bring out the Tigger in me, especially after reading your book. I now see happiness as a choice. Still, there are Eeyore days….

      • Theresa

        I do agree with other posters that you were being unfair to the Eeyores and am happy that you acknowledged it! I, like the previous poster, see myself as both Tigger and Eeyore. However, I have a friend who is usually a complete Tigger and is pretty naive. This naiveté has caused some unfortunate circumstances in her life. She saw the world in cheery bright colors and didn’t see that certain people didn’t have her best interests at heart… when reality finally hit her, her personality shifted to that of an extreme Eeyore. I believe that it’s good at times to be a Tigger and to see the good in the world. But I also believe that it’s good to be an Eeyore for your own safety (emotional and physical).

        • gretchenrubin

          This is a great point to make — that while Es and Ts try to convert each
          other, they each do have an important perspective to add, to a deep

      • Tracyw

        Actually Gretchen, I thought you did a great job of being even-handed. I particularly liked the symmetry of:
        “… believe that their point of view is more socially valuable, more thoughtful, more realistic, and more morally admirable than that of…”

        Perhaps your original post could have done with a bit more emphasis on that most people are, most of the time, neither one extreme or the other. But something I’ve struggled in with my writing a lot is to make it clear that there are shades of grey, people seem to have a basic impulse to view the world as binary in all sorts of matters, not just happiness. (And probably I do as well, in things I haven’t thought deeply about).

  • Where’s the balance here? No one can be one or the other all the time.

    I think if someone is perpetually negative and gloomy, then they may be clinically depressed and should consider talking to a professional.

    But someone who is overly cheerful all the time is definitely being inauthentic, because no one can feel that way every day. I find that a little sadness or negativity here and there (in small doses) makes someone appear real. We want to know there’s a human side to everyone.

    By the way, there is a term called “defensive pessimism.” Sometimes a little negativity serves a purpose.

    • TracyW

      It’s interesting the language you use, that “we want to know that there’s a human side to everyone”, implying that negativity is human.

      As to whether someone can authentically be cheerful every day, my own opinion is that the brain is a physical organ, and thus like any other physical organ can vary massively from person to person, so it strikes me that it’s possible for a human to be authentically cheerful all the time, just as it’s possible for a human to be unable to distinguish between red and green colours, perhaps it’s not the healthiest attitude, but I think it can be authentic.

  • Kathy

    Gretchen, I loved your book and have recommended it to many people. Love the blog too, but…enough Tigger and Eyeore 😉

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks! And yes, I agree, enough on this topic for a while!

      • Kathy

        By the way, were you in Washington, D.C. yesterday? I saw a woman walking down the street who looked exactly like you! If it wasn’t you, you have a twin out there in the universe.

        • gretchenrubin

          No, not me! Kinda cool to think I have a mysterious twin out there

  • Keetha

    I’m also a former Eeyore who is now a contented Tigger. I have down days and irritable times like everyone else but for the most part I’m happy.

    My husband is an Eeyore. And sometimes it gets on my last nerve. I don’t try to cheer him up or criticize him for being all down in the mouth but it is sometimes exhausting being around someone who is so determined to be unhappy and/or a victim.

    This was a good post for me to read, though. I need to try harder because he really, really is a great guy.

  • Green Jhaggis

    Eeyore has always been one of my favorite characters. I identify a lot with him, and I have used his over-the-top gloom to snap myself out of certain self-pitying moments. So, I’ve been enjoying reading these posts and comments.

    I have a co-worker who is unfailingly cheerful. One day I said something Eeyor-ish to him, and he said “I love your honesty.” That was wonderful to hear. I felt validated and we went on to talk about something happy, which I hope validated him.

    However, what I’ve experienced with some Tiggers is the feeling that they can put a positive spin on everything except for what I’m saying. I think that’s why I read some Tiggers as fake. I expect them to be able to rise above my Eeyore-ness with those huge Tigger bounces, and am shocked when they can’t. The frustration I feel is that they are unable to take their own advice to “cheer up” and instead expect me to do their work for them. Every time I’m in that situation I can hear the door slam on positive communication because I can’t get past that disconnect between their words and their actions. I think the idea that sometimes “cheer up” is a defensive reaction to a threat might work as a bridge for me. Thanks.

  • Thank you for this post and to all the commenters. Really interesting discussion.

    As for me, I really am both at different times, although I rarely try to bring anyone else around to my outlook. I often wonder if it’s best to be one or the other and for now I’m good with “and” instead of “or”!

    Ultimately, though, at a deeper level, I resonate most with what Eckhart Tolle says about being present. He tells a story in one of his books (I think it was “The Power of Now”) about a lady who complained to him about her troubles. By his simply being present with her completely, she experienced a profound shift, so much so that the next day she asked him what he had done to her. And this through neither happy-talk nor commiserating. I think that’s what I aspire to the most.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

    • gretchenrubin

      This is a very good point.

      I remember that one of the previous commenters said that he had trouble
      “being present” with his Eeyore-partner because while he tried to be there
      for him, it was hard to keep from being dragged down by his Eeyore’s

      Has anyone figured out a good way mindfully to be with an Eeyore — NOT to
      tell the Eeyore to cheer up, not to commiserate, but be there in a mindful
      way — without partaking of the Eeyoreness, if you don’t want to?

      • Oh, wow, that’s a good one. I can relate with the commenter you refer to, in fact just a little while ago I had opened your post “7 Tips for Dealing with a Sweetheart Who Is Constantly Crabby”! Perfect.

        For me, it’s a moment by moment thing… On the “outside”, things feel better when I am simply kind, and/or if I just acknowledge his issues with “oh, I’m sorry you’re feeling that way” or whatever. It sooths both of us.

        And again, on the “inside”, as long as I can sort of notice “oh, hmm, his anxiety is affecting me” AND ACCEPT THAT, then it’s more clear what, if any, action is appropriate. Often, none is. I figure he’s my personal trainer for strengthening my presence muscles. 😉

      • Sunshinecook

        You have already said this, but the technique of reflecting feelings really does help people, whether they are temporarily down or are a consistent gloomy-type. In fact, *particularly* for the Eeyore types I think it is nice to hear, “Woah–that sound rough” if you are used to people trying to talk you out of your feelings.

  • I like your thesis that Tiggers and Eeyores should mind their own business and stop proselytize their views. However, I feel like you are unfairly favoring Tiggers over Eeyores. Perhaps you are not doing it, and I am just reading too much into it or projecting some commenters’ views onto you. It would be helpful if you could clarify your position.

    No person in the world intentionally wants to be unhappy. Even the most self-indulgent person wallowing in his self-pity wants to be happy deep down. But finding fulfilling happiness is hard because life is hard.

    Sometimes when people go through a difficult situation in life, what they want is commiseration and understanding. Yes, misery sometimes does love and NEED company. There is no shame in that. Maybe the reason they are being an Eeyore is a cry for understanding.

    Depending on the circumstances, positive thinking can help snap people out of their blue. Keeping the helpful resolutions you have articulated can indeed make one’s life more disciplined and happier. However, there are other circumstances where no easy fix exists, not even your resolutions can help. One must then face the unpleasantness of the circumstance and deal with the existential angst — not ignoring it or faking it or spinning it — in order to truly transcend it. In these times, facile positive thinking can actually be counter-productive and even dangerous.

    You may say that I am an Eeyore, but I’d like to think that I am a realistic Tigger trying to make the most out of a 49%-empty glass.

    • Tracyw

      I thought that Gretchen was being remarkably even-handed between Tiggers and Eyores.

      I don’t see any place where she denied that when sometimes people need commiseration and understanding. The thing about the Eyore in the Winnie the Pooh books is that he’s always gloomy and critical, regardless of the circumstances. I don’t think that being depressed occasional circumstances in life where no easy fix exists makes you an Eyore by itself, the difference is that an Eyore always appears to think that all the circumstances are terribly difficult.

      But of course we can never really know another person, someone who appears to be a full-on Eyore to us may in fact just have had a run of bad luck at the times we come into contact with them.

    • EnnuiHeeHee

      One concept I see as related and which I don’t see mentioned here so far is the idea that people resent feeling manipulated, in general.

      While there is no shame in needing company in misery at times, I suspect that what makes people, tiggers or not, resent the behavior of eeyores is that it can be very passive-aggressively manipulative. If you need company for your misery, I prefer you to ask for it rather than wear your agony on your sleeve.

      Maybe it’s a matter of manners. Likewise, I don’t condone anyone (aggressively) demanding that another cheer up.

      Ultimately, we must respect others not only by acknowledging their moods and feelings but also, at times, shielding them from our own. We should no more demand cheerfulness than exude black clouds. (Sidenote: Has nobody posted a link to SNL’s Debbie Downer skit?)

      • gretchenrubin

        Debbie Downer! You’re right, how is it POSSIBLE that she has not been
        mentioned yet???

    • Babsmtbc

      I really liked that post. It’s true that sometimes an Eyore (or someone who is “feeling Eeyorish”, does need to just “ramble on” about whatever is making her unhappy at that moment. And the understanding is all she needs. A person listening and nodding and just being there. Not offering solutions, not saying, “oh come on, you can handle it!” That’s NOT what she is looking for. Rather, just an understanding ear for her “eeyoreish moments.”
      Get it?
      (got it)
      Thanks. I enjoyed writing here.

      • gretchenrubin

        This is very true. We’ve all been there. But a problem arises when a
        perpetual Eeyore doesn’t realize that his or her negativity is spreading to
        others in ways that make them uncomfortable. It can be hard to listen in an
        understanding way, or even be around that attitude, without “catching” it.
        This is one reason why, I think, Tiggers sometimes are so adamant about
        trying to cheer folks up. Self-protection.

        • Alexandra

          As a Tigger I completely understand that not everybody will appreciate solutions and cheering up. However, as has been stated before, Eyores can be a bit passive-agressive. I would really appreciate it if Eyores would just say to me: “look, I just need you to listen, nothing else”. In fact, I think it would help both sides if they were to make their wishes and preferences more explicit.

          Another observation and I wonder what you think of this: as a European person I find Americans (and I realize this is a gross generalisation) remarkably perky, for example they’ll often smile, greet people spontaneously and ask me “how are you doing” all the time. After a while, even I get tired of saying “I’m great!” even if I am. This behaviour does come across as fake sometimes…

  • ML

    I am an Eeyore and my husband is a Tigger. I noticed that couples are often different type (or opposite) from each other. Perhaps this is because the opposites attract. But when we need to make a joint decision, it is so difficult to communicate and make him see my view. What i find helpful is to first repeat and validate his point before i state my own view. That way at least he feels understood and being listened to. Then he is more willing to listen and try to understand my point. Even though we may never be completely agreeing with one another, at least we learned to “agree to disagree” and accept that we are simply different. and It is okay to be different.

  • K & D

    I am a Eeyore and my husband is a Tigger. I can see how we, for lack of a better word, complement each other. He always sees the bright side of things and often I have to step in and present, what I see as the reality side of things. We have a business together and at times he gets burned by people taking advantage of his brightside attitude. But often his faith in people rewards him greatly. This comes to another point, him as a Tigger has a huge span of friends, I as an Eeyore have a small span of friends. So if you need lots of friends being the Eeyore will not get them for you. And lastly, since he is usually the Tigger, when he finds it necessary to view things in a more Eeyore type of way, people take him more seriously. They tend to give my none cheery view point lesss credibility as that is the norm for me. Thank Gretchen for getting thoughts going around this issue. My husband is constantly, suggesting even bribing me to see things his way without thinking how much effort he may be wasting.

  • Myrlin

    I think the “minding own business” theory works if Tigger and Eeyore are simply friends. It is more difficult if you are a couple, in my case (i am the eeyore and my husband is the tigger) and we need to make decisions on many things such as money, kids..etc. I would be very interested to learn more tips on how to make it better, for Eeyore and Tigger to make decisions or work together.

    • gretchenrubin

      This is the HUGE question! What suggestions do people have?

      • Mellen

        This is one topic that I’ve found missing in your writing up till now–and one which my husband and I discuss *a lot.*

        When I’m feeling bad there are several things that I can do, and the solution varies depending on … things. Sometimes it works very well to ‘act the way you want to feel’ and sometimes I can make the leap to ‘mind my own business’. Those are great solutions!

        But sometimes I need to be heard. I need someone to listen, understand, and attempt to empathize. And I do not need someone to Tiggerize me. And it is difficult to do. My spouse and I need to be able to listen to each other’s problems and empathize, ***without trying to change each other.***

        Gretchen, in your writing I’ve often wondered when you get that chance to be heard. You are so tough on yourself.

      • Phoenix1920

        My husband and I are very much ying and yang–I am the Tigger and he is the Eeyore. But it compliments us. He has a perspective that I sometimes need to hear and visa-versa. For the most part, we don’t try to control each other’s moods. He doesn’t tell me to be more “realistic” and I don’t tell him to “Cheer up”. There are rare times when I have to step in and let him know that he is getting too depressed for no reason, and there are times when I need him to balance by own perspective. But for me, I’ve found that we’ve succeeded by finding that we balance each other out.

  • I really enjoyed reading this post. I would most definitely say that I am a Tigger. If you read in my blog , I know that the simple things make me happy and sometimes it’s hard for me to accept that I can’t make others happy. So I am doing my own thing, trying to inspire happiness!

  • Sunshine

    I’m just going to throw this in the mix because much has been said on the topic of these two “types” getting on each other’s nerves: I think I am a very slight Tigger, but some of my very *favorite* people are moderate Eeyores. My best friend can be a bit of one at times and I think that’s part of why we work, honestly. I don’t mind a bit of brooding when the person really is perceptive; I love analytical types. And I am a sucker for the snarky Eeyore wit. (I am not trying to reinforce the all-too-common stereotype that happy people can’t also be smart and witty, just alluding to the combination of characteristics that seem to have been associated with the Eeyore disposition in more than one person I love.) I think in this friendship we moderate rather than polarize each other because we respect each others’ feelings so deeply.

    • Mary

      I think you may have hit on one of the keys to making Tigger-Eyeore relationships work. If each person really respects and SHOWS respect for the reality of the other person’s feelings and/or opinions, I think there’s more room for moderating rather than polarizing. Which circles back around to Gretchen’s resolution to acknowledge others’ feelings.

      This has manifested in my life in a relationship where I (often Eyeore-ish) felt I needed to point out potential pitfalls to a friend who seemed a bit pie-in-the-sky to my eye. You know, to plan for them… Sigh. Right. Eyeoooorrreee!! And for a long time, this person I cared deeply about would ignore anything I said – simply not acknowledge it. Perversely, thinking she simply hadn’t understood my point, I’d REPEAT it. I suspect, ad nauseum. When we finally worked out that each of us had to acknowledge the other’s reality – I could deal better with the pie-in-the-sky, and she didn’t have to listen to the potential pitfalls over-and-over-and-over-and…

      And on another thread – it IS only men, and mostly strangers or very slight acquaintances, who demand smiles. Grrrrrrrr. Cheeses me right off, that.

  • anonymous

    When I take the quiz, I find that both the Tigger and the Eeyore operate in me, sometimes even simultaneously. I also think it’s possible to be a “philosophical Tigger” – you can embrace positive precepts as a product of logic in the same way you can negative precepts, and not necessarily exude an overly sunny or chirpy personality. Or you can express a negative expectation in a humorous, ironic manner (think Woody Allen), as a means of alleviating the real pain of a situation. (I would also reference a passage from Michael Shurtleff’s book “Audition”, where he points out that comedy/humor is a way of dealing with problems – “Watch where the need for humor comes in, because where you need humor in order to deal with problems is exactly where you can place humor in any scene you read.” – amazing book, loaded with insights that cross over to all areas of life and psychology!) But it can be humor based on a pessimistic view, to be sure. Anyway, I guess I’m just saying that the two sides are not necessarily mutually exclusive (just as everyone is not exclusively “left-brained” or “right-brained”), and it would be interesting to research that aspect of the duality.

    • gretchenrubin

      I think that for many, maybe most people, this is absolutely true — they
      aren’t 100% E or T. Though some people do seem to stay in one camp all the

      Again, what’s most interesting to me is how being with an E brings out the
      T, or the T the E. We all know that we “catch” moods from other people, and
      I certainly was aware of that in myself, but what I didn’t realize was that
      sometimes I caught the OPPOSITE.

  • Minna

    if you haven’t already, you may really enjoy the books ‘the tao of pooh’ and the ‘te of piglet’

  • I love the word Happiness Habit,
    it’s a good concept, great one.

    Thanks for your sharing~

  • KC

    This dynamic actually becomes a huge source of guilt in my daily life. As a “Tigger,” I absolutely dread spending time with some of the negative people in my life. Unfortunately some of the most negative people in my life happen to be close to me (my parents, for example). When we spend time together it goes something like this.

    Mom: “My life is terrible, I’m such a victim…”
    Me: “Why don’t you try…(having coffee with a friend, getting some exercise, trying a new hobby, etc.)”
    Mom: “That will never work because…”
    Me: “Maybe it’s not so bad.”
    Mom: “Oh, it is that bad.”
    It’s so frustrating!!

    Gretchen, your insight that my unfailing cheeriness in her presence might be causing her to dig in her heels is HUGE. I think you’re absolutely right. “Doing what’s right for me” in this regard without trying to change the Eeyores might become my newest resolution.

    • gretchenrubin

      A friend of mine is a psychiatrist, and she recently used the term
      “help-denying” — describes the behavior when people, whenever you try to
      think of ways to help, deny that anything could make a difference. I’m
      going to learn more about it. Very useful term.

  • Shalee

    Please forgive me if someone has already pointed this out as I have not read all of the comments for any of the Tigger/Eeyore posts; but, have you ever read “The Tao of Pooh” ? Benjamin Hoff goes over the different types of people corresponding to the characters of Winnie the Pooh -very similar to your insight. And by the way you’ve described yourself, Gretchen, I think you are a “Rabbit.”

  • Hi Gretchen,

    I think I can be tigger on most days and eeyore on some. Thats part of life and people who come across as tigger every single day don’t look normal to me. They do tend to get a few reactions out of people, not necessarily me, ranging from plain envy to their sanity being questioned.
    Anyway, just recently finished your book and loved it. I have had my own battles to fight for a number of years and 2010 is the year when I finally turned mostly- tigger from mostly-eeyore. And boy it feels great.

    I have also started my blog.

    I would be grateful if any fellow posters pop in to have a look. You would never know from my posts that I have overcome a great personal tragedy which had made me stop reading. Period. Hence I found your book so late, but so glad I did. I look forward to posting here often and have added your link as well.
    Hope to have more conversations soon.

  • KarinaK

    “This is a major insight for me! I’m excited! Having an original idea is a rare treat. (As so often happens with an original idea, once I have it, I’m struck by how obvious it is. I spend a lot of time trying to discern the obvious.)” This really hit home, as it’s exactly how I feel and often make notes in my journal to the effect that some huge insight feels like a blinding flash of the obviou. I usually go 350 degrees around the circle to connect point A to point B. It made me feel a lot better that you feel the same way! I usually beat myself up for having been so dense – but I haven’t found any shortcuts to see the obvious sooner – have you? Or, maybe it isn’t really so “obvious” to everyone – maybe it’s profound. Would love to hear more from you on this topic.

  • This is a great analogy to utilize in my coaching work. Thank you!

  • Thanks for this quiz! I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic since you first posted about it. My reflections are far too long to post as a comment, but I will refer you to my blog at http://uminations.blogspot.com/2010/10/true-happiness.html Hope you enjoy it!

  • Meijo

    I could not resist to comment on this post. As I was reading the Tigger and Eeyore sayings I was thinking that they all applied to me. So am I a Tigger or an Eeyore? I’m confused.
    I tend to look at the bright side while keeping myself as realistic as possible. I might come out as an Eeyore in certain situations, and I have to push myself to do things. And if things don’t go as expected I decide to make the best of it and transform it into a learning opportunity. People tend to come to me for advice because I motivate them but I also make them see the challenges (that’s what they say).
    Funny that neither Tigger or Eeyore were my favorite characters, I found them kind of annoying. Maybe because they are the extremes of the same line but mixed together they can make a good balance.
    After reading this post I came to the conclusion that I have both a Tigger and a Eeyore inside, and I kind of like that.
    We have to keep our optimism while keeping ourselves grounded, and maybe if we keep our inner tigger tell ourselves (and not other people) to smile more and have our inner Eeyore make a reality check from time to time, we can have our own happiness project.
    Thanks for making me realize that. Now I’ll see them under a new light.

  • colleen

    I think that being a Tigger or Eeyore becomes a point of friction when you enter into that realm of “magical thinking” when logic goes out the window. It’s not especially fun being around people who never look at the bright side, but it becomes annoying when they try to support their position with “facts” such as “the picnic will get rained out next month, I just know it.” Did you ever hear someone claim that they can affect the outcome of a sports event just by watching it from home? “Every time I watch the game, they lose.” Tiggers can be just as frustrating when they do the same thing. “I just know that the weather will be perfect for the picnic!” “They are going to win because I am wearing my lucky socks!”
    Eeyore is ready to cancel the picnic and Tigger is not planning ahead.

    The Tiggers and Eeyores that are easy to be around both agree that they need a tent for the picnic…Eeyore needs the rain protection and Tigger needs the shade.

  • This is a topic I have been thinking about constantly since I finished your book last week (loved it!), and this post and the comments have been helpful in clarifying some of the questions I’ve had — for example, a light went on for me in reading that we might become more Tigger or more Eeyore in response to someone else’s T- or E-ness. That is SO true for me, to the point that I’m not certain anymore where I naturally fall on the Tigger/Eeyore spectrum.

    I do know that I think that I *should* be a Tigger, perhaps because some of the people with whom I spend the most time are decidedly Eeyores, and for whatever reason it feels like a moral imperative that I be light in contrast to their dark. (Although, to be fair, these people also have Tigger sides to them, which I think I unfairly tend to overlook because I’m so busy trying to bring their outward happiness level up.)

    So now a few commenters have identified some practical tips for how to respond to someone’s Eeyoreness, but I still feel like there is an inherent contradiction that I noticed while reading your book, and I can’t seem to resolve in my head: you note that it’s a common fallacy to think that negative feelings should be expressed or “vented” — but in fact expressing such feelings only deepens, rather than dissipates them. Yet, at another point, you talk about how people who express negative feelings (Eeyores) want them to be validated, not chirpily dismissed.

    Both of these facts make sense to me, but I can’t figure out how that plays out in day-to-day interactions — that is, when an Eeyore is being Eeyore-ish, it seems that it’s best to acknowledge their point of view rather than seek to change it; but doesn’t this ultimately encourage them to vent more negative feelings, which in turn only deepens their negativity?

    Although now that I’m thinking about this in the context of your point that Tiggers and Eeyores don’t WANT to change their perspective, I see that I have made a faulty assumption, which is that an Eeyore’s negative feelings are in some way wrong or bad. And that isn’t fair. It must be something that I was brought up to believe, that being positive and happy is a moral imperative.

    Fascinating stuff. I could go on for DAYS!

  • Bluetamarai

    I saw these links in your weekly email and I had to laugh out loud! I have always loved Eeyore, he’s my very favorite Pooh character. But I am such a Tigger. “Happiness is a choice…” Yes, that sounds like me. In fact, I have talked about my affinity for Eeyore and how that seems counterintuitive since I have been “accused” (by myself included) of being a Tigger.

    I don’t know what draws me to Eeyore as a character, although I really do want to give him a big hug. And I have tended to be drawn to sad sacks at different points in my life (and even ended up married to – and later divorced from – one). But I don’t want to be around them all the time, and if they’re really in deep Eeyore mode I will try very hard to Tigger them out of it. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts, they are extremely useful and I’ve got some pondering to do!

    I’ll still go on loving Eeyore, though, and wondering why I don’t have a cuddly replica in my possession yet. What, 42 is NOT too old for stuffed animals! 😉

  • KAB

    Wow, love this topic and all the great discussion. I have been interested in this since my kids were born. I have an Eeyore and a Tigger, who are now teenagers and I can see that many of traits of each have been there since they were babies! Being a Tigger myself, I read “The Optimistic Child” by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D, when they were toddlers and tried to foster the ideas presented in raising them. What I have found is that much of who they today, is how they were as babies! Sure we can provide experiences to foster optimism in our kids (giving them choices and boundaries) and be aware of our own responses to life events and their influences, but isn’t much of who we are just well, who we are? I agreee that we all have the ability to alter our responses and make choices as we grow, but at the same time we all are unique in our life experiences.
    Oh, there is a great piece written by Sara Berman a few years back, “An Optimistic Mother Ponders her Pessimistic Child” if interested. Thanks for the great post!

  • Like many, I’m a little big Tigger and a little bit Eeyore. But what I’d really like to be, and I’m working on it, is quite a bit Pooh. Too much Tigger can mask real feelings that need addressing. Too much Eeyore can put you in a permanent state of depression. Learning to move through life with ease and expectation of all being well, The Pooh Way, I think ultimately leads to the most lasting happiness of all.

  • I love this. I’ve been thinking a lot about introversion vs. extroversion lately, because even though I’m kind of in the middle, I think the world is very hard on introverts (Eyeores). It is as if bubbly, outgoing-ness is the standard from which we judge others…and I think that’s really unfair to people who are quietly going about their lives and doing good in the world.

  • Willsmama

    I’ve always been a pretty upbeat person (definitely a Tigger), but don’t remember ever telling anyone – especially a stranger – to “smile” or “cheer up.” However, one afternoon a stranger decided that I looked way too sad for her liking and as she walked by said “Hey, c’mon, smile! It’s a great day, so cheer up.” She went blithely on her way, leaving me wishing I had a good come-back for her. Just thought she ought to know that my 4-year old nephew died that morning after a long illness. I had every right to look and feel sad and she had no right to assume that I was just a purveyor of gloom. There is a HUGE difference between chronic negativity and a natural reaction to a tragedy…which should make all of us think before opening our mouths.

  • Breeze AZ

    I liked the comment about there being a lot of piglets and kangas and roos, too! And Rabbits! There really is the whole spectrum of personalities living in the woods of Pooh. If everyone was all the same, the books would have no depth and the storyline would be rather flat. Our world and lives need a variety of personalities, too, to not be boring and all the same. It creates a balance, also, so we can look at issues from different perspectives. Makes us more well-rounded.

    Someone mentioned Pooh also. He deserves some thought. Pooh is usually not terribly excitable, he takes his time. He says, “Oh, bother!” when things don’t go quite the way he hoped. He also takes the time to sit down and think when faced with a challenge. He knows when to ask for help. He seems to know when to mind his own business. He’s thoughtful and likes abeing around his friends. He doesn’t have a boring life because knows how to have adventures. And maybe best of all, he knows how to just relish a pot of honey in the comfort of his own home.

  • Verstehen

    What an awesome comment!  I’ve had somewhat of a similar experience, but took a bit longer to become as self-aware as you…in fact, still working on it.  😉    It’s such a help for my focus, keeping in mind what both you and Gretchen have said.

  • Jadujen

    That’s such a good point.   If I think about it, I can call to mind many instances where, when I or a different female friend was walking along, in a fine mood, just not smiling~ it wouldn’t be unusual for a man to comment on it.  (But when I was younger; not so much now 😉  However, I really can’t give any examples of the same thing happening to male friends.   That’s really interesting to me…

  • verstehen

    This is a great perspective too~thanks for sharing it! It’s actually quite inspiring to me.   =)

  • verstehen

    I know of male Tiggers & female Tiggers also.  So I don’t think the disposition is gender-speific.  But I DO think it’s interesting that some people seem to expect women to be more cheerful & upbeat, at least in certain regions of the U.S.  Not that I live in another region, I see just how much parts of the South really expect/prefer females to be happy & cheerful, or put a good face on everything.  I notice the lack of this cultural norm in the Midwest (or at least the parts I’ve been).

  • ruby

    I am tigger and being one is hard . I am starting to become more of a realistic tigger

  • Carol S.

    I’m a Tigger through and through now. I went through a long period of life as an Eeyore, while I was very ill, injured, coping with constant work changes, and living in a city I now realize I can only take in small doses. My post-surgery life (since 2000) has been much more cheerful. I still slip into Eeyore mode for short intervals, but I am able to catch myself fast and literally “bounce” out of it just like Tigger.

  • Carol S.

    The only way in which I am NOT a Tigger, is that I am cheerful and happy for myself alone, I never demand that anyone else should feel happy when they don’t. In fact most of my friends describe me as a compassionate listener and a valuable confidante.

  • kathy b


    Im a TIgger married to an Eeyore. My Eeyore comments on others negativity and calls THEM Eeyores when he is an eeyore himself. THANKS For the tip not to engage in a conversation with him about it. I once tried writing all the negative things down he said in a day and confronting him. HE said I was being oversensitive and he was just teasing…..
    Once I tried beating him to the negative punch. THat was fun. He looked at me like I was crazy until he caught on.d FOr instance we were int he car and i yelled at a driver before he did. THen I said, Damnit I think hear a knocking engine sound. Can’t this car run right for a week? He found that humorous.

  • Don Karp

    Actions speak louder than words. In his book, “In and Out of the Garbage Pail”, Fritz Pears tells how all conversation is really s**t. About the weather = chicken s**t, about someone else its bull s**t, philosophy is elephant s**t. And to me this blog seems a mixture of bull and elephant.

  • cinna

    I’m an Eeyore that tries to be a Tigger

  • Ducky7

    This is really interesting. I think I’m definitely a middle of the road person, neither a Togger or Eeyore, and I would argue most people are in the middle somewhere. That said I do empathize with the Eeyore “authenticity” part. I have a friend (an ENFJ, for you Myers Briggs types), and she is a definite Tigger. In her case it drives me nuts because it’s so clearly all about her and her sense of self, but she pretends it’s all about making other people happy. I think it’s actually disrespectful.At the same time, I don’t think being an Eeyore is always respectful, either. You have to honor people where they are at.

  • lannabanana

    Maybe the secret is this: However you feel, quit being so pushy about it–especially if others disagree. It’s not the kind of argument that ever leads anywhere. And if others push or trigger you, ignore/avoid/distract/tell them to back off. Act on your own feelings (instead of recruiting) the way we’re supposed to act on our own values (instead of proselytizing). Apparently, in these situations, the two categories are easy to confuse: people make value judgments ABOUT their feelings and then generalize them to other people’s.

    I happen to be an Eeyore, but I dislike other Eeyores intensely. They (we) really do suck. But having a bunch of Tiggers in the room sucks almost as much because I have no way to relate to them, and I assume *a priori* (and apparently correctly) that they wouldn’t want to understand me even if they could for fear of contagion. I’d rather be somewhere in the middle, needing neither state of mind to feel “virtuous.”

    Love the sidenote that random acts of kindness don’t actually help the recipients as much as the donors. I feel much less guilty now for never wanting to do that. :p

  • Name

    Ok, disclamer first: I am a definite tigger. (Though I definitly preffered eyore in the book) I always try to look on the bright side of life – but i see this as a coping mechanism mostly. I do not believe that being a tigger or eyore says anything on you’re actual happiness level. Both can be equally happy or unhappy, but is the way that is easiest for them to face the world, sort of their natural mask. That is also why I dissagree with the ‘fakeness’ comments on the tigger. I admit, I am not always as happy as i act. But for me acting happy, and looking on the bright side, is the best way to deal with the issues I have and try to concentrate on what I find important. If you get to know me better, you will also find an hidden eyore, but I only share this with the ones really close to me, when I really need to/ am lost. On the other hand, I have a very good eyore friend who, to everybody who first meets him, is the biggest eyore ever. Statler and Waldorf are little miss sunshines compaired to him. But when you get to know him you find out that this is also his coping mechanism, and actually he is not as ‘grumpy’ as he seems. In fact, (most of the time) we make exactly the same life choices , and give others the same kind of advice. And the funny thing is, we both agree that though we choose a different kind of ‘mask’/ coping mechnism, the way, and situations in which we use it are often identical. I was wondering if any other tiggers with eyore friend (or vice versa) have observed this too?

  • st4rchy

    I personally cut out of my life anyone who is opposed to “negativity.” Give me a #$%^^&$ break.

  • Robyn Armstrong

    What if I’m a Piglet, and he is an Eeyore?

  • sukim88

    This is one of the best posts that I have ever read and totally relevant in my life now. I am an E and am also feeling this way has I have just switched to an extremely challenging job.

    I have 2 group of girl friends who are Ts and are in challenging situations themselves (ie break ups and difficult marriages etc) However I have noticed the difference in how they react to me in particular. One group of Ts would be provoking (” you are so boring” “you should smile more”). Whilst the other group would be more understanding (“maybe you need a holiday” “just relax its’s going to be ok).

    Is it the maturity? Understanding of the other persons situation? Being gracious in our words? Compassion?

    Being an E, we also have to be aware that nobody likes being around a Grump. I am an E but not allllll the time. And I hope people are aware that Ts are NOT Ts alllll the time either.

    Also this really only a dimension of who we are. As humans, we are complex and it is this complexity that makes the world all interesting and exciting. Namaste !