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11 Important Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss

11 Important Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss

In 1984, Dr. Seuss won an award for his contribution to children’s literature.

In his years as a cartoonist and children’s writer, Theodor Seuss Geisel created some of the world’s most famous books and illustrations, including Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Cat, and The Lorax.

As lifehackers, we can learn a lot from the legendary Dr. Seuss. He was, after all, one of the pioneers of clever storytelling that didn’t insult the intelligence of children. For example, consider How the Grinch Stole Christmas!—an early criticism of commercialization—from 1957.

We can study Dr. Seuss’s successful children’s books to become more productive, feel more motivated, and live a rich life. But the “Father of Children’s Books” also has plenty to teach us about the importance of reading, believing in yourself, and doing the work.

Let’s look at some things Dr. Seuss used to say, and see what we can learn from each one of them.

1. On being yourself

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Don’t try to be someone else. No one can smile, laugh or talk like you. You have a unique voice. Use it.

As Dr. Seuss points out:

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

It’s scary to stand out, but that’s why you must do it. If you’re looking for inspiration, turn to this much-loved quote:

Say what you feel, and do what you say. Because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

2. On choosing your own direction in life

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go…

Life is full of choices. Do you choose where to go or do you let someone else decide for you?

You’re off to great places! Today is your today. Your mountain is waiting, so you get on your way!

Take that first step. Whatever you do, don’t stand still. Dr. Seuss warns us about a universal law called inertia. This means that things keep doing what they’re doing. So, if you’re standing still, you’re likely to stay still. But if you’re moving forward, you’re more likely to keep moving forward.

So, what are you waiting for? Get on your way!

3. On making the world a better place

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

If you want a better world, you have to care. You must take responsibility and speak up. Issues like global warming, poverty, racism, domestic violence, sexual discrimination, among many others, are not going to get any better unless you take action.

A person’s a person, no matter how small.

Everyone matters and deserves to be seen. We must never forget to respect each other’s differences.

4. On love, friendship and joy

We’re all a little weird and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone who’s weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness call it love.

You know you’re lucky when you’ve met someone who embraces your weirdness and loves you anyway. The same holds true for your friends. Where can you find your fellow weirdos? Hang out with them, and treasure each other’s imperfections. They can be hard to find, but they’re well worth the wait.

5. On reading and learning

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Reading books offers you more ways to look at life. It adds depth and color to the most unlikely places. Knowledge is a very powerful weapon indeed, so make the most of it. Read more books! You never know where it will take you.

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It’s better to know how to learn than to know.

This is a hidden gem from Dr. Seuss. How do you prefer to learn? Don’t underestimate this question; your learning preferences can seriously improve the quality of your life .

For example, consider if you’re:

  • A visual learner (you prefer mind maps, texts, and images)
  • An audio learner (you prefer listening to podcasts and lectures)
  • A kinesthetic learner (you prefer to do things)

Think about which learning style you prefer. Follow Dr. Seuss’s advice and figure out how you learn best because that’s more valuable than what you already know.

6. On procrastination and being stuck

Everything stinks till it’s finished.

Ever wonder why you never finish that book, set up that blog, or take time to sit down and meditate?

Our most important work is always the hardest. We fear our own potential and we feel the resistance. Procrastination kicks in and tries to trick us. “You don’t have to finish the book today,” it tells us. “You can do it tomorrow!” (Notice how it’s not telling us that we can’t do it, but it’s simply suggesting that we can do it another day.)

Fortunately, Dr. Seuss gives us a nudge of his wisdom on how to battle procrastination and many other pressing problems when he writes:

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

So, what’s the answer to the complicated question: “How can I overcome procrastination?” The answer is to sit down and get started. Simple does not mean easy.

But if you are determined to show up and do the work, then you will come through. Sure, you will encounter troubles along the way. As Dr. Seuss points out:

I’ve heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

7. On imagination and the creative process

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.

I like nonsense too. In fact, I get most of my ideas from it. But why is our imagination such a powerful tool? It’s because it lets us play with our thoughts, and try different angles.

We often take our ideas too seriously. We believe they must be perfect before we can do something about them. Indeed, it’s usually the other way around. It’s the work that refines the idea. Throw in a little nonsense and you’re more likely to find a way out.

Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try!

Creative people make connections others do not. You know that connect-the-dots drawing game you used to play as a a kid? There was always someone who shouted out the answer before the drawing was finished. These moments could be annoying, but also very telling.  Creative people can spot the whole picture before everyone else.

Life is like a big connect-the-dots game. What can you see that others miss? Show us. We want to see too.

8. On success

 And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.

If you work hard, you’re more likely to achieve success. But there’s always a slim chance (one and a quarter, to be exact) that you won’t. Success, just like happiness, is a by-product of your efforts. In other words, no one can guarantee you success.

But sometimes success can happen too fast. We might not feel ready for it. If that’s you, then remember these wise words from Dr. Seuss:

If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along and you’ll start happening too.

9. On life balance

Step with care and great tact, and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.

You don’t have much time and everyone is battling for your attention. These resources come in strict supply, which is why you must learn to set your priorities. This is not always an easy task, but you can begin by saying no to activities that don’t add much value to your life. Who is worthy of your time and attention? Make an effort to spend more time with them, but please don’t forget to take time for yourself.

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Life is a great balancing act indeed!

10. On appreciation and gratitude

From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.

It’s easy to forget the smaller things in life. But Dr. Seuss reminds us that there are lessons to be learned and people to be grateful for on every step of the way. Funny things are everywhere, so keep your eyes open!

11. On making the most of your future and embracing your inner child

Only you can control your future. 

This is one of Dr. Seuss’s most important life lessons. We can choose our response in any set of circumstances, and that’s what shapes us. How we choose to live our life is up to us. We can’t blame others for our mistakes. Indeed, we must stop comparing ourselves to others all the time.

His books encourage us to explore the world, have fun trying new things, and make new friends. But above all, he wants us to wake up to the child that’s living inside of us. As he points out:

Adults are obsolete children.

Embrace your inner child. You can learn a lot from her, if only you give her the chance. Listen to your childhood dreams and aspirations. It’s never too late to act. Whether you’re young or old, sick or healthy, remember this inspirational quote from Dr. Seuss:

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss’s legacy

Dr. Seuss’s work continues to inspire us, and his world-famous books live on. But some of Dr. Seuss’s most important life lessons are about perseverance, showing up and doing the work, and ultimately, finding the courage to be yourself.

Who are your childhood heroes? How has Dr. Seuss inspired you to be yourself and follow your dreams? Please let us know in the comments.

Are you in the mood for some more inspirational life lessons today? Check out 11 Life Lessons from Albert Einstein

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Featured photo credit: Universal Studios California/davebloggs007 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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