March 2nd marks the birth of one of the greatest philosophers that has ever lived: Theodor Seuss Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss. This is a man who not only got our picky eaters to eat green (green!) eggs and ham, but also taught us to seize the day with brains in our heads and feet in our shoes.
It's been 59 years since The Cat In the Hat was published-but Dr. Seuss' work remains timeless, striking a chord in readers both young and old. In honor of what would have been the prolific poet's 112th birthday, we've rounded up a few of the invaluable lessons we've learned over the years from the beloved children's author.
1. Recognize how wonderful your quirks are.
We all have special talents and things we are good at-and not so good at. But that's what makes you you. "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You," Dr. Seuss wrote in his 1959 book, Happy Birthday to You!
2. Don't cave in when the going gets tough.
In the book Oh, the Places You'll Go! Dr. Seuss pretty much shares an inspirational lesson on every single page. But let his exploration of failure sink in: "I'm sorry to say so but, sadly it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you." Kids and adults alike can all relate to feeling down in the dumps, but in the pages that follow, Dr. Seuss reminds us all that "somehow you'll escape all that waiting and straying. You'll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing."
3. Take care of the planet-it's the only one we've got.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not," Dr. Seuss writes in The Lorax. All the Truffula trees are chopped down and the Bar-ba-loots get the "crummies because they have gas and no food in their tummies." They decide to leave for better land-that is, until the Once-ler tosses a single seed to someone who cares, telling him to plant it and "treat it with care." The lesson? It's up to us to keep our Earth healthy. So plant a tree! Recycle those wine bottles! Turn off the lights when you leave the room!
4. It takes a whole lot more than just blood ties to be a parent.
In Horton Hatches the Egg, Dr. Seuss shows us exactly what it means to be a parent. Unfortunately, it's a reality that parents abandon their kids. Take Mayzie, the bored, lazy mama bird who abandons her egg to chill out on in Florida, for example. But luckily there are others, like Horton the Elephant, who may not be connected to a little one biologically, but is certainly a better parent than a bird who couldn't care less. Horton sat all day and all night - and when the egg did hatch, to his surprise, an elephant-bird was born. Why? "Because Horton was faithful. He sat and sat! He meant what he said and he said what he meant."
5. Be open-minded.
"There are so many things you can learn about, but you'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut," writes Dr. Seuss in the book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. Dr. Seuss encourages us to be curious about the world around us, to ask question and open not only our eyes, but our minds and hearts, too.
6. Be gracious.
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are is a book we should all be reading whenever we want to throw a pity party for ourselves. There's always something to be thankful for, so take the wise words of Dr. Seuss to heart: "You oughta be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the people and places, you're lucky you're not." Make some moves! If you don't like your situation, change it.
7. Work hard. Play harder.
"And when they played, they really PLAYED. And when they worked, they really WORKED," is a line from the book The King's Stilts. The message is simple: Do a good job, but remember to have fun. Life isn't about working ourselves to the bone-take a break every now and then! Balance is key.
8. We are all equal.
Yertle the Turtle is a book that explains to children that we are all equal regardless of skin color, religion, the amount of money in our bank accounts,or who we choose to love. In fact, even adults can use a refresher from the wise Yertle: "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights."
9. Keep an open mind.
How do you know if you don't like something unless you give it a whirl? This goes for food, a job, a person who might make a great new pal, a workout ... anything! Do as Dr. Seuss says: "Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say." Because being open-minded might just lead to this: "Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!"
10. Stand up for yourself.
Ahhh, sweet Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose. This softie reminds us not to be doormats or pushovers. Look, it's swell to be kind, but remember, it's a two-way street. In the book, Thidwick, allows "thingies" to live on his head, and soon his antlers become sore and beat-up. He doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings - but is anyone feeling anything for him? Nope. At long last, he stands up for himself and kicks those thingies to the curb! Bottom line: The story explores the limits of hospitality and sharing. Make sure people are respecting you, and not taking advantage.