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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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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