Cut from the same cloth as Laurel and Hardy, Bert and Ernie are Sesame Street’s classic comedic duo. They were the only Muppets to appear in the 1969 pilot episode. Their appearance was the only segment that tested well, which led to the decision that Muppet characters would be the “stars” of the show.
Over the years, Bert and Ernie have helped many kids strengthen their math and language skills while learning about important concepts like sharing and cooperation. Even though the show is geared toward children, there are actually some pretty good lessons we can all learn about dealing with Adultitis from our old friends residing at 123 Sesame Street…
1) Take More Baths
One of Ernie’s favorite things to do is take baths with his rubber duckie. (Did you know that his performance of “Rubber Duckie” landed him at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1970?)
We don’t take enough baths these days. In our society, most young children take baths. Most adults take showers. Is it any surprise that kids are way less stressed than most adults?
When Kim and I give Lucy a bath (which she loves), the getting clean part is a byproduct. To Lucy, splashing around and having fun are the main attractions. Her little fingers and toes turn to raisins long before she’s ready to get out.
For us adults, it’s a different story. Showers trump baths because they fit better into our busy lifestyle. We’ve even combined shampoo and conditioner in order to streamline the process even further. It takes time to enjoy a good bath, and nobody has much of that these days.
[ Interesting fact: The amount of time in an average day in 1909 compared to 2009 has decreased by an alarming 0%. ]
Ironically, the exact way to create more time and experience more balance is by doing less. The genius of utilizing the bath for sinking stress is precisely the fact that it requires time. Time that can be used to stop. To think. To breathe. To be.
Ernie has always known that baths are where it’s at.
2) Hang Out with Childlike People
One of the things that keeps strait-laced Bert from experiencing full-blown Adultitis is the fact that he hangs out with Ernie. Ernie keeps Bert in balance. Just imagine how much worse Bert would be if he hung out with Oscar the Grouch all day long!
There are certain people who have the uncanny ability to suck the life, optimism, and energy out of any room they enter. My friend Lisa calls these people Energy Vampires.
The sad truth is that Adultitis is contagious. The good news is that so is a childlike spirit. If you want to decrease the Adultitis in your life, hang out with more Ernies and less Oscars.
3) Have a Hobby
Bert has a long list of hobbies and interests, including playing checkers with his pet pigeon, Bernice, and collecting bottle caps and paper clips. Bert also loves brass band music, oatmeal, weather forecasts and playing the tuba. Ernie’s favorite hobby seems to be playing practical jokes on Bert.
We all need hobbies as a way of releasing stress. Carving a little “me” time into your day is imperative in your fight against Adultitis. Sure, the amount of time might look different for a stay-at-home mom of five compared to a retired widower, but fifteen minutes a day, or a solid hour or two a week can go a long way. Hobbies help recharge us and fill us up, and you can’t help anybody else if you’ve got nothing left to give.
I believe a good hobby is 1) pretty much anything that you enjoy doing just because, and 2) something that gives you a bit of a a mental or physical workout. Things like Scrapbooking. Building a model railroad. Gardening. Golfing. Photography. Woodworking. Cooking. Scuba diving. And yes, even playing the tuba.
(And no, watching TV for three or more hours a day is NOT a good hobby.)
4) Be Quirky
Okay, so Bert’s hobbies are a little weird. Bottle caps? Oatmeal? Did I mention that he is also the President of the National Association of W Lovers?
Everybody is a little weird.
We all have our own quirks that make us unique. For instance, I have an unhealthy admiration for a fictional character named Horatio Caine. I’ve named every Mac I’ve ever owned. (So far I’ve welcomed Godfather, Ferris, Superman, and Castor into the family.) I enjoy watching wrestling documentaries with my brother. I am a font nerd.
The surest path to a serious case of Adultitis is trying to keep up with what everyone else is interested in while suppressing your own interests and idiosyncrasies. You weren’t born to blend in.
The people in life who are most liked, most successful, and most happy are those who are not afraid to be themselves. They are comfortable in their own skin, even if their skin is made of fabric.
So there you have it. Some pretty big life lessons from a couple of humble Muppets. What did I miss? What’s something you’ve learned about life from Bert and Ernie?
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