Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! Theodor Seuss Geisel (yes, that’s his real name) was born today in 1904. His timeless books were celebrated not only for their inventiveness, but for the messages that they bestowed upon their readers.
Dr. Seuss claimed not to imbue his stories with morality on purpose. In fact, he described himself as, “subversive as hell.” Still, the author’s political beliefs are apparent in The Lorax, an environmentalist story, and The Butter Battle Book, which serves as a metaphor for the arms race. But some of Dr. Seuss’s best advice comes from his subtler, goofier stories.
Here are five things Dr. Seuss’s classic books can teach every adult:
1. If your present situation is wearing you down, don’t lose optimism about the future.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is perhaps Dr. Seuss’s most inspiring book of the bunch, as it instructs readers what to do in times of turmoil. It’s too easy to get bogged down in the details of day-to-day life; this book can be a refreshing means of regaining perspective, and reminding yourself that the world is wide, and opportunities abound.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
–Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
2. A little kindness goes a long way.
The Grinch is a classic example of a character who is grumpy merely because he’s often left out. It’d be easy to blame his bad attitude on his circumstances rather than including him in festive activities. Instead, ceasing to shun him helped the Grinch grow into a kinder version of himself.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
–How the Grinch Stole Christmas
3. Hold fast to your beliefs, even in the face of ridicule.
When Horton from Horton Hears A Who hears a voice emitted from a small speck of dust atop a flower, he concludes that the voice is coming from a person. He later learns that the speck of dust isn’t a speck of dust at all, but an entire planet, called Whoville, inhabited by the Whos. Unable to see his perspective, the other jungle animals pick on Horton, but Horton remains sure of himself, and continues to protect the Whos.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
–Horton Hears a Who
4. A little open-mindedness goes a long way.
The message of Green Eggs and Ham may be painfully straightforward, but it’s still a message that’s worth remembering from time to time. Sam-I-Am urges the narrator to try his bizarre culinary concoction, and even suggests a variety of locations and scenarios to do so (who wouldn’t want to try a new cuisine in the company of a fox?)! The narrator refuses, believing he’ll dislike the dish without ever having tried it. Talk about stubborn!
“Try them, try them, and you may!
Try them and you may, I say.”
–Green Eggs and Ham
5. Fun is good!
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish has less of an overt message than many of Dr. Seuss’s other books, perhaps because it is geared towards younger readers. Regardless, it epitomizes the irreverence and fun that all of his stories are peppered with, and in doing so conveys a message of its own, and it may be the most Seussian advice of all: “fun is good.”
Did you ever fly a kite in bed?
Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?Did you ever milk this kind of cow?
Well, we can do it. We know how.