My name sake ‘Michael Bond’ wrote a series of very sweet, small-scale books about a bear called Paddington, so named because he was found at Paddington Station in London after having spent his early years in “darkest Peru”.
Adopted by the Brown family — Henry, Mary, Judy, and Jonathan — Paddington explores London and gets to know this very busy new world he’s landed in, especially his new neighbourhood of Windsor Gardens. His blue jacket and red hat complete his iconic appearance, and everyone in London seems to be just fine with the idea that he is a talking bear who loves marmalade sandwiches.
Paddington is, in essence, a very well-behaved 7-year-old. He is polite to all, looks for the good in other people, and takes in the world with great curiosity. But he also has a tendency to get in over his head and make huge messes, which are mostly forgiven because he’s such a thoughtful and kind bear. He is a classic children’s book character: gentle but rambunctious.
Notably, Paddington’s exploits have been adapted several times for television, with the 1975 BBC series being a particular standout for its blend of a stop-motion puppet Paddington with two-dimensional, traditionally illustrated backgrounds. It looked like nothing else in kids’ TV at the time, and it underlined why Londoners seemed so unfazed by Paddington’s presence: He was more “real” than they were, an idea that certainly must have seemed true to his youngest fans. Despite Paddington’s TV success, it took until 2014 (and 2015 in the US) for the bear to get a big-screen movie adaptation. But both Paddington 1 & 2 have been huge box office successes.
1. Work hard and stay the course
Paddington has a very small ego, but a huge heart. It’s this talent that enables him to work hard at any job to make ends meet. In his most recent film, Paddington 2, he wants to buy his Aunt Lucy a special gift for her 100th birthday. But he’s short on cash. So, he works odd jobs until he saves up to buy a unique London themed pop-up book from a local antique shop. (Aunt Lucy had always wanted to visit London from her home in “Darkest Peru”) Paddington figures the book is the next best thing, and washes pets, cuts hair at a salon, and even cleans skyscraper windows to make it happen. Along the way, the pop-up book gets stolen right before Paddington can buy it. Police think he did it, and he is sentenced to 10 years in prison for grand theft. But despite such setbacks, Paddington’s initial lesson remains: Work hard…and things WILL go your way…eventually!
2. Look for the good in everyone
There is always more to someone than meets the eye. And in today’s fast-paced world, this can be hard to see. But not for Paddington, even when he’s in jail. So, hit pause, and get to know people. What good qualities do they possess? Society tends to pick out people’s faults first, but don’t make this mistake. What good qualities come to the surface? Next time you converse with someone, take a moment to really understand them. People (and small bears) who see the good qualities in others tend to be happier and experience happiness more deeply.
3. People can change
Even in jail, imprisoned alongside London’s worst criminals, Paddington’s charm wins new friends. Since Paddington sees the good in everyone, it’s easy for him to accept that people CAN and DO change. It can be hard, but it happens. Hardened inmates start changing for the better because of Paddington. If society’s worst criminals can start down the road of change…anyone can. Perhaps all that is needed is a bear to lead the way.
4. Be kind. Mind your Manners. Pay attention to “old fashioned” values
It’s the simplest of advice and can be the hardest to follow. Be nice. Be kind. Paddington Bear encompasses kindness, manners, and just about every “old fashioned” value you can think of. In the beginning of the film, Paddington greets everyone in town; it’s his calling card. In our cynical society, it seems basic manners and just “being nice” has fallen by the wayside. When manners are considered an “old fashioned” value, something is upside down in our society, and Paddington Bear would agree. Just paying attention to basic manners is not only kind, it’s respectful of others. When’s the last time you greeted someone? Or held the door open for them? If we all were a little nicer to each other, the world would get better. Take it from Paddington.
5. Always look on the positive side
This is also an easy one, but it can be hard to enable. Paddington has made looking on the bright side of things an art form. Really, it’s an engrained habit you have to cultivate. Paddington was born with a natural “upbeat” personality. Not everyone is – but everyone can learn to look on the positive side of things. Poor Paddington confronted roadblocks at every turn, including being wrongly accused of stealing, and being sentenced to jail. He suffers from characters, like Hugh Grant’s “Phoenix Buchanan,” who don’t like him and do everything in their power to hurt him. We all have people like that in our lives. Accept there are some things out of your control (and that includes other people and their opinions) and just focus on your own positive attributes and circumstances. Paddington faces some real-world challenges in his second film.
The challenges are daunting…but as long as Paddington stays true to himself, and his life values, you know the end of the story will be a happy ending. More than that, we also have to trust, that our own film’s ending will be a happy one, too!