By February 23, 2010 Read More →

Lessons Learned from Dr. Seuss

Lessons Learned from Dr. Seuss

“Kid, you’ll move mountains!  Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss

When I was a kid, Dr. Seuss was a constant source of inspiration for me.  His stories filled my head with endless possibilities.

Between Great Day for Up and The Cat in the Hat, I was pretty much prepared for making the most of any day.  I think his real masterpiece though was Oh! the Places You’ll Go!   This is the book that convinced me I could move mountains and that life is what you make of it.

21 Lessons Learned from Dr. Seuss
There are so many great lessons from Dr. Seuss.  Each of his book is such a treasure trove of ideas and actions for a better life.  What I did here is boil down a set of 21 lessons that highlight his key themes across his works and quotes:

  1. Be a thinker of great things.  Dr. Seuss teaches us, “Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”
  2. Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.  Sometimes you just don’t know what you’ve got until after it’s gone.  In Bartholomew and the Ooblek, King Didd got what he wished for, but the sticky Ooblek goo was worse than the fog, snow, sunshine, and rain that it replaced.  The King quickly wanted his old weather back and he learned to appreciate it.
  3. Be your best you.   In the words of Dr. Seuss, “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  Make the most of what you’ve got.   In Yertle the Turtle, we see “feather envy” and it’s a gentle reminder to be careful what you wish for and appreciate what you’ve got.
  4. Bend your world in wonderful ways.  Nobody bends it like the Cat in the Hat.   From the metaphors you use, to the thinks that you think, you can shape your world that’s right in front of you.
  5. Don’t put yourself in a box.  You’re only limited by your own imagination.   The Cat in the Hat teaches us how to let our imaginations run wild.
  6. Don’t waste your time worrying who’s better than who.  In Yertle the Turtle, Dr. Seuss teaches us that “You have better things to do than argue who’s better than who.”
  7. Dream it and do it.  You can move mountains when you put your mind to it.  Direct your life like a blockbuster and make things happen.
  8. Edutainment wins over boring and ho-hum.  With whacky words, wondrous worlds, and fantastical characters, Dr. Seuss taught us the edutainment is how you change a child’s life.  Reading is only boring if you make it so.
  9. Kindle your curiosity.  Keep your mind open and your eyes peeled.  Stay curious and follow your growth.
  10. Life happens in moments at a time.  Don’t miss out on life by tuning out the little things along the way.
  11. Own your fun.   There’s more to do than play in the rain.  When you’re bored, you’re boring.   The Cat in the Hat teaches us to be the maker of our own fun.  Make each day your own special blend of whatever it is that best floats your boat.
  12. Play at your day.  You can play at your day, in every way.
  13. Persistence pays off.  Be relentless in your pursuit of things.  In Green Eggs and Ham, it was through persistence that Sam-I-Am finally got the unnamed character to try the green eggs and ham.  In real life, Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before being published by Vanguard Press.
  14. Treat people fairly and squarely.  In The Sneetches and Other Stories, Dr. Seuss shows us that we can’t judge people by their lot in life or whether they have a star on their belly.  In Yertle the Turtle, it’s a reminder not to climb over people on your way to the top, because they’re same people you’ll see on your way back down.
  15. Try it … you just might like it.  In Green Eggs and Ham, when the unnamed character was surprised to find out that he actually likes green eggs and ham once he tried them.  You just never know until you try.
  16. Saying you’re sorry can help make things right.   In Bartholomew and the Oobleck, when the king finally said the magic words, “I’m sorry,” and “it’s all my fault,” he helped make things right again.
  17. See the bright side of things.  It’s a great day for up, when you can see the sunny side of things.  Sure sometimes you’ll have to work at it, but positivity is a skill.  Do it daily.
  18. Setbacks happen.  Deal with them and move on.   Make trouble think twice about messing with you.
  19. Some people are much more unlucky than you.  When you’re down in the dumps and things get real bad, remind yourself that somewhere, somehow, someway … somebody is much “more unlucky than you.”
  20. Success is a journey and we all have our own paths.  Make your journey count.  Don’t let fear stop you.  Don’t let conventional wisdom stop you.  Lead the life you want to live, and when there’s no path, make one.
  21. Your voice counts.  In Horton Hears a Who, Dr. Seuss shows us how one little voice can tip the scale … after all, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Top 10 Dr. Seuss Quotes
51J I 6 4IL__SL160_Dr. Seuss has so many quotable quotes, from enjoying your day to being more you.  He has such a way with words.  Even when he reminds us of something we already know, he has a way of saying it that makes an old song sound new.  Here is a sprinkling of some of my favorite quotes:

  1. Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
  2. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
  3. Only you can control your future.
  4. So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.
  5. The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
  6. Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.
  7. Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
  8. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
  9. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.
  10. You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

It’s inspirational gold.  There is nobody youer than you, and the more that you learn the more places you’ll go.  Bravo.

Dr. Seuss Quotes
51fcyIF5j0L__SL160_ If you’re not familiar with Dr. Seuss’s quotes, then you’re in for a treat.  It’s easy to read his words, and he’s a master of saying a lot with so little.

A nice simple way to leverage his quotes is to pick one or two of your favorites.  Sometimes the right quote is just what we need to hear and it can be the perfect catalyst that we need in our life.  Enjoy!

Aloneness

  • All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot.
  • I’m afraid sometimes you’ll play lonely games too, games you can’t win because you’ll play against you.
  • You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.

Be Yourself

  • If you’d never been born, then you might be an Isn’t! An Isn’t has no fun at all. No, he disn’t.
  • You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?
  • You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.

Everybody Deserves a Shot

  • A person’s a person, no matter how small.
  • I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.

Fun

  • Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.
  • From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.
  • I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.
  • If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.
  • It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how.
  • We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.

General

  • Be awesome! Be a book nut!
  • Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more …
  • I do not like green eggs and ham I do not like them Sam I am.
  • I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. Because an elephant’s faithful, 100 percent.
  • I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.
  • Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!
  • Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
  • So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.
  • They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!
  • Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.

Life Happens

  • I’m sorry to say so but, sadly it’s true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.
  • Things may happen and often do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

Make Things Happen

  • I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!
  • There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go.
  • Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.
  • Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Positivity

  • And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!
  • If you keep your eyes open enough, oh the stuff you will learn. Oh the most wonderful stuff.
  • It’s opener, out there, in the wide, open air.
  • Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky.
  • You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.

Thinking

  • Think and wonder, wonder and think.
  • Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!

Dr. Seuss Books
One of the best ways to get to know Dr. Seuss is through his books.  Here is a round up of his books::

Kid’s Books

  • And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street
  • Bartholomew and the Oobleck
  • Daisy-Head Mayzie
  • Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
  • Dr. Seuss Sleep Book,
  • Horton Hatches the Egg
  • Hunches in Bunches
  • I Can Lick Thirty Tigers Today & Other Stories
  • I Can Draw It Myself: By Me, Myself with a Little Help from My Friend Dr. Seuss
  • I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
  • If I Ran the Circus
  • If I Ran the Zoo
  • Happy Birthday to You
  • Horton Hears a Who
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • McElligot’s Pool
  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • On Beyond Zebra
  • Scrambled Eggs Super!
  • The Butter Battle Book
  • The Cat in the Hat Song Book
  • The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
  • The King’s Stilts
  • The Lorax
  • The Sneetches And Other Stories
  • Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose
  • Yertle the Turtle & Other Stories
  • You’re Only Old Once
Beginner’s Books

  • Dr. Seuss ABC
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Fox in Socks
  • Hop on Pop
  • I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!
  • Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!
  • Mister Brown Can Moo, Can You?
  • Oh! The Thinks You Can Think!
  • Oh, Say Can You Say?
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
  • The Cat’s Quizzer
  • The Foot Book
  • The Shape Of Me And Other Stuff
  • There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!

What has Dr. Seuss taught you about life?

32 Comments on "Lessons Learned from Dr. Seuss"

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  1. JB King says:

    The combination of humor, rhyme and insight in his works are something to cherish forever. Most of the time, whenever I see a Dr. Seuss quote, I’m almost always looking for a rhyme and that seems to make some of his stuff more memorable for me. Given my strengths, this shouldn’t really surprise me anymore, as I like to learn, think and see patterns and rhyming is a pattern.

    I remember pretty well that at my Grade 8 graduation we had “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” read to us by our teachers, which was an odd treat looking back at it over 20 years ago now. I may be old, but I can still be bold. ;)

    In addition to the power of imagination, there are also the lessons in the various Dr. Seuss tales, ranging the Grinch getting his heart, to lessons Horton found in a Who. Thanks for all the fish, Dr. Seuss. Did he ever get a doctorate degree to be a real doctor?

  2. It’s posts like this that remind me of why I mentioned your site as one I love in my post on Friday. This is a great post and I justed shared it on Twitter! :)

  3. davidburkus says:

    Great post. I’ve often gone back to “Oh the Places You’ll Go” but never stopped to consider the lessons in other works.

  4. Jenn says:

    J.D., I adore this blog so much! Totally what I needed right now in every way! I was noting the ones I really liked and yet this one made me giggle and feel better right away! thanks so much!
    wanna know which one? how can this not make anyone feel better!!!! :D

    Be Yourself
    * If you’d never been born, then you might be an Isn’t! An Isn’t has no fun at all. No, he disn’t.

    New Perspective
    * You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?
    * You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.

    thanks,
    xx Jenn

  5. JD says:

    @ JB

    “I may be old, but I can still be bold” … classic!

    I don’t think he ever got his doctorate, but Dr. Seuss is a pretty cool pen name.

    @ Positively Present

    Thank you! It’s these kinds of posts where I feel that we can stand on the shoulders of giants.

    @ David

    Thank you. That truly is a classic, but he’s got a lot of other winners too. I didn’t get much from Hop on Pop, but works like Great Day for Up have some memorable gems.

    @ Jenn

    Thank you!

    Yeah, being an Isn’t is no fun at all.

    Dr. Seuss really nows how to serve up a tall glass of positivity, and he really drives home the point, to be yourself … the best you can.

  6. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. my immediate reaction is .. how great here he is practising what he preaches .. summaries of the chapters – and thus always available for a succinct overview, which will bring to your attention perhaps the point you need at that moment.

    All the other Dr Seuss ideas too .. amazing resource.

    It’s interesting .. and now you can scan it into Evernote .. and thinking about it .. so can we from here?!

    The whole post is amazing – thank you .. Hilary

  7. My favoritte is: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Powerfully uplifting! Thanks for this comprehensive post. You really know how to grab the essence of value and present it. .

  8. JD says:

    @ Hilary

    Thank you. Dr. Seuss really makes it easy to draw a bunch of lessons from. His words are so powerful and precise.

    @ Tom

    Thank you. I enjoy the process of distilling greatness and sharing the gems.

  9. I love those quotes! Dr.Seuss rules! I am copying them to my quotes folder and going to use on my blog and tweets. Hope you don’t mind JD:) Thank you!

  10. Good golly, this is a fun post! I’m going to send it to someone I love, who happens to love Dr. Seuss.

    I’ve seen a few of those quotes here and there, but not all in one place. You’ve just become a bookmarked resource for all things Dr. Seuss! Thank you, JD!

    And so much of what you shared in the lessons part resonated with me. I learned early on to be careful what I wished for, and am now learning how to make each day FUN! Better yet, to expect nothing less than FUN from everyone and everything I encounter!

    Blessings of love & joy to you!

  11. JD says:

    @ Lana

    Dr. Seuss is the man!

    I don’t mind … goodness is meant to be shared.

    @ Megan

    Thank you!

    I like the fact you raised your fun bar and expect it from yourself and others. I think it’s these kinds of changes in life … “selective intolerance” … that actually make a difference.

    Joy is the way to go.

  12. Gianna Desanti says:

    Your voice counts. In Horton Hears a Who, Dr. Seuss shows us how one little voice can tip the scale … after all, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

    Sounds like even Dr. Seuss knew that abortion is wrong. Because a person’s a person—no matter how small.

  13. JD says:

    @ Gianna — Dr. Seuss was effective at giving people a model and a map for courage and conviction. He taught folks to think big, live large, own your day, and make the most of what you’ve got.

  14. Uma Sharan says:

    HiJD,

    What a great post. I am going to use bits and pieces from here for my kids (5 and 8yrs) daily motivational email!!!

    Thank you!!

    Uma

  15. JD says:

    @ Uma — thanks for stopping by! I hope your kids enjoy it.

  16. Julianna says:

    Does anyone know the context of the quote; “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

    I would really appreciate it, thanks.

  17. JD says:

    @ Julianna — I’m actually wondering whether it’s from Robert Fulghum.

  18. Kade says:

    The “were all a little weird quote” is from Robert Fulghum I’ve recently become a huge fan of his work and bought all his books and upon reading his “True Love” book, it’s a direct quote out it and it’s been my favorite quote for a long time, never knowing who wrote it, then I came across my current favorite authors book and low and behold it was in there. I was beside myself that I loved his work before I even knew who he was.

  19. JD says:

    @ Kade – Thank you for clarifying. Robert Fulghum sounds like an interesting writer.

  20. Kim says:

    I am an elementary school librarian. This would make an awesome poster. May I print it and post it in my library?

  21. JD says:

    @ Kim — Sounds good. Enjoy.

  22. Alicia says:

    Love this! I’m trying to identify the book by dr. seuss that this quote is from: I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind…

    Thanks!

  23. JD says:

    @ Alicia — Thank you. Good luck on your hunt. It might be I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew.

  24. Julia says:

    No matter how “OLD” we are, Dr. Suess keeps us young
    and gives us words to live by.

  25. JD says:

    @ Julia — How ironic. Today, I happened to hear that Dr. Suess once said, “I don’t write for children. I write for people.”

  26. Annie Definitely says:

    Thanks for publishing this list! I am an English teacher at a high school in upstate New York and am creating a “Dr. Seuss Birthday Party Goals Lesson” for this Friday! I am going to incorporate some of the lessons you listed here! TSG’s messages are TERRIFIC for ALL ages– I am excited to share with my students the ideas of positive thinking being the most powerful thing; of embracing and absorbing each moment; and of following their dreams, however big they may be, to cultivate for them a life they will love!

  27. Joelyn says:

    I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew is my favorite Dr. Seuss book.

    Since before I was old enough to read myself, this book gave me hope. Everyone has troubles. There is no choice but to face them.

    I do not have children, but it still sits on my bookshelf today.