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11 Important Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss

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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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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