Dr. Seuss may have done most of his influential writing in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – but even though his most popular titles are more than 50 years old, some of the life lessons they contained still ring true today.
Dr. Seuss didn’t always just write children’s books. He studied English literature and spent his early career working on various forms of writing, including political cartoons and war posters. He felt a great sense of pride in conveying important messages, which is likely why his popular children’s books offer such influential stories.
Here are 8 life lessons you can learn from the various works of Dr. Seuss.
1. You Can Make a Difference
There’s no greater influence you can have on someone than to show them how they can personally make a difference. It’s easy to push decisions aside thinking that they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. After all, you’re just one person, right?
In The Lorax, Dr. Seuss teaches us that we can make a difference if we show that we care. He impresses on the reader that if people don’t care – people like you – nothing will ever change.
2. Be Yourself
This is a recurring theme you can find throughout his books, but nowhere is it more evident than in Happy Birthday to You!
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
You’ll find this message in many of his characters and books. He really tried to show young people that they’re original and that’s better than ok – it’s who you are, and the world needs someone just like you.
3. Look at the Brighter Side of Things
In One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Dr. Seuss explores the complex life topic of looking for the good in everything:
“From there to here, From here to there, Funny things are everywhere.”
“Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
It’s about living in the present and really exploring the positive aspects of life. It’s really easy to get caught up in the negative things and think tomorrow will be bleaker than today. Dr. Seuss really tries to get us to think differently about today, tomorrow, and every day.
4. It’s Not All About You
It’s especially difficult to get children to understand that not everything is about them. However, you see this more in adults these days than ever before. Wallowing in your own sorrow will not get you anywhere. Dr. Seuss knew this better than anyone, and made it a central theme in Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
“You ought to be shouting how lucky am I. Some people are much more, Oh, ever so much more, Oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”
Look outside your own bubble and you’ll see how much better you have it than a lot of people that are out there struggling. Understand what you have and be thankful for it.
5. Try New Things
If there was ever a writer that tried to push people into new and exciting ventures, it was Dr. Seuss. One read through Green Eggs and Ham and this becomes abundantly clear.
“Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!”
Trying new things isn’t always easy, but it’s important that you don’t dismiss them before trying them. You may even surprise yourself with the things you like. The worst part about never trying something is you may never know if you could be missing out on the best thing in the world.
6. Use Your Imagination
Creativity is abundant in the works of Dr. Seuss. He wanted children to use their imagination and know that they were capable of almost anything they can dream up.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
That excerpt from Oh, the Thinks You Can Think really gets to the heart of the matter, even though you can find this mentality in almost any book that Dr. Seuss penned.
7. Equality for Everyone
A rather large topic for a children’s book, but Dr. Seuss hits the nail on the head in Horton Hears a Who! Complex themes like racism and prejudice were very difficult to tackle in the ’50s. In 1954 this book tackled it head-on.
“Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small!”
Probably one of the more powerful lessons you’ll find in his book is that everyone is equal. No one person is better than the other. He hammered this point home time and time again, while other leaders of the day were pushing for the opposite. This meant his work at the time was more important, and difficult, than ever.
8. There’s a Time for Work, and a Time for Play
There comes a time in everyone’s life where work begins. This is usually younger than most people would like. Usually beginning with chores and helping around the house, but continuing into adult life. In The King’s Stilts, Dr. Seuss expresses the importance of work and play.
“And when they played they really PLAYED. And when they worked they really WORKED.”
The important thing we’re taught here is how important play and relaxing is. In fact, it’s no accident that it comes first – before work – in the structure the doctor use here.
Writing is a very difficult career, and as this list shows, many people can’t do it all. This is why so much of what Dr. Seuss wrote is relevant today: not many can do what he did in the way he did it.
We can all learn something from the many works of Dr. Seuss. We just need to use our imagination, and revisit a book or two!
About the Author
Kerry Creaswood is a young and ambitious writer from Savannah, GA. She is fond of various forms of art and thinks that everything we can imagine is real. To find more about Kerry – check her Twitter. Image source: www.flickr.com
PS: Please comment at the end of this article and tell me what life lesson inspired you the most? And also, do you know another life lesson from Dr. Seuss? Access the list of positive words to brighten your day!
Take a look at Attitude, Presence, and Gratitude Quotes: The Importance of Being Present because everyone deserves to take a step back from everything going on in the world and live in the moment with the ones they love.