13 Life Lessons Dr. Seuss Has Taught Me

DR SEUSS: thank you so much for your wisdom, guidance, and beautiful illustrations and artwork. My umma (in her rudimentary English) read you so many times to me as a child, when we were poor, living in a tiny 1-bedroom apartment in Alameda (when I was in the 2nd grade, 7-8 years old).


Dr Seuss Life Lessons – ERIC KIM


Thank you umma

I still vividly remember, when my mom could barely pronounce some of the words, and as I started to get older, I would actually help and correct her English and accent/pronunciation. I still remember the countless times my mom read me: “Horton Hears a Who!

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Anyways, I don’t exactly remember when I first read “Oh the places you’ll go!” (perhaps by my school teachers in elementary school), but I still remember how inspirational/motivational it was– and how timeless and memorable the illustrations were.


Appreciating DR Seuss even more as an adult

I first was read Dr. Seuss when I was 7 years old. I am now 30 years old; 23 years ago was my first introduction to DR SEUSS.

This is my lesson: many children’s authors are actually philosophers, dressed up as illustrators. They have a certain life philosophy they want to share/inspire others with. And often it is easier for us to understand certain moral/social messages through illustrations and stories, than told directly.

For example, the LORAX is just a critique on American consumerism, dressed up as a children’s book!

Or another example: ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell is just a warning against dictatorships/Stalin/Maoism/Communism. Or how ‘Brave New World’ is a warning by Aldous Huxley about the way that mass-media can drug us into indifference (SOMA, their fictional drug, is perhaps a symbol of stupefying entertainment).

Therefore I decree that Dr. Seuss wasn’t just a children’s picture book author; he was a philosopher and master of wisdom.


Get ‘Oh the places you’ll go!‘ for yourself, and others!

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Generally ‘Oh the places you’ll go!‘ is given as a graduation present to students, either from high school to college, or college graduates. But I don’t think they’re the ones who need it the most– they’re already motivated and inspired, and haven’t been jaded by society (yet).

I think it is actually us in our late 20s, early to mid 30s, or 40’s + who need this book the most! We must never lose sight of our child-like sense of hope and optimism. I plan on reading more children books, and studying more Dr. Seuss.

As a random note, Cindy, Annette, and I are currently working on a children’s photography book (titled: “My First Photography Book”) which will be a book to teach children how to take photos, and how to appreciate photography! But in reality, it is the best book for adults– for us to re-spark that child-like sense of wonder and appreciation we had for the world! If you’re interested in the upcoming children’s book. “My First Photography Book” email Annette (our illustrator) at annettekimart@gmail.com to be put on the waiting list.

Also very cool: You can get ‘Oh the place’s you’ll go!’ as a Kindle ebook. That’s how I bought it, and re-inspired myself with it!


So with no further ado, here are the lessons I’ve learned from Dr. Seuss’ book, ‘Oh the places you’ll go!’


1. You can steer yourself any direction you choose

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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.

You are an individual with free will, agency, and the power/ability to control your own direction or path in life. Use your brainpower and intellect to follow your heart, gut, and soul into the direction you desire.

2. Avoid going down the wrong path

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You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

Before you decide to go down a path, pause and ask yourself — whether you desire to go down that path or not. Use your intellect to predict how you will really feel going down a certain path in life. In psychology they call this the ‘pre-mortem’ — vividly predict your feelings going down a certain life path before you commit to it!

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.

Lesson: The hard thing in life is that society presents you with several roads to follow in life– and different career paths. But there might not be any paths you want to take.

But realize– you must create your own path; pave your own road, and you have the power to create your own job and your own lifestyle/way of living!


3. You have infinite potential!

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It’s opener there in the wide open air.

One of the things I love the most about being in open spaces; you literally feel infinite. You see all the empty negative space around you– and in front of you!

Know that you have no limits; just look out!

4. Be excited about where you will go!

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“OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!”

Remember when you were in middle school, high school, and in college– and you were so excited about your future potential? Don’t lose that spirit.

Know that there are so many epic, awesome, and exciting places you haven’t been to yet– shoot for the moon!


5. Soar to higher heights!

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You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

Know that your future has infinite potential, for you to soar to higher heights; to new atmospheres // out of the stratosphere!

In your life, seek to be a ‘high flier’ — don’t be boring and risk-averse; staying at ground-level.

Never stop flying higher!


6. Don’t lag behind; take the lead!

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You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Others might be ‘smarter’ than you, have more money, have more connections, and have more resources– but don’t let that discourage you. Instead, realize that your primary strength is speed, your spirit of hustle and hard work, and the fact that you’re not a laggard– you’re already miles ahead of your competition/others!


7. “Un-slumping” yourself is difficult; but you can do it!

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You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump, and the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump. And when you’re own a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

All of us in life will sooner or later fall into slumps. But know that a slump is just a momentary bump in your life; and you will be able to un-slump yourself!

Sometimes getting out of a slump happens naturally, other times you change your attitude and you get out of a slump. Or sometimes you try something new, and you exit your slump.

Just remember, whenever you’re in a slump; never lose hope or optimism for the future!


8. Avoid the ‘waiting place’

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Dr. Seuss warns us — some people end up falling into limbo in the ‘waiting place’ (which is a metaphor for individuals who are just sitting around, idly, waiting for things to happen to them):

“People just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go, or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.”

Don’t be a waiter. Sometimes you try to start business opportunities, but you have to wait for a response email for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. But no– don’t let yourself be a waiter; keep marching ahead at full speed, and create your own conditions for your own life!

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

I love this personification of a ‘Better Break’ and ‘Another Chance’. Often people in life feel like they’re stuck, and they are just waiting around for themselves to get a ‘better break’ in life. Perhaps if you hate your job, you’re just waiting for a recruiter to message you on LinkedIn– instead of going out and actively pursuing new options!

Another Chance: sometimes we attempt great things, fail, and then we become afraid. We are afraid of taking new chances, or even worse– we sit around passively waiting for someone to give us a new chance in life!


9. Don’t wait; make stuff, pursue new things, see new things, have novel experiences, and never run out of optimum!

NO! That’s not for you! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.”


10. Don’t play against yourself

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you.

In life, so many people are just running the ‘rat race’; which is a game they can’t win. People who are chasing for more money, fame, power, social media followers, etc.

But realize friend, in life — you have the power to dictate which games to play, and which games not to play!

For example, you have the power to decide NOT to play in the ‘rat race’ game. You don’t need to “keep up with the Jonses”. You can dictate what games you wish to play for yourself; according to your own rules; a game you can actually win (because you set your own rules).

And the wise saying of Dr. Seuss:

Don’t play against you.

I interpret this as the following:

Sometimes in life, we (for some reason) set ourselves up for failure.

But if you catch yourself doing that; STOP! Set yourself up for success!


11. Be dexterous/agile

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You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

In life, you never know what you’re going to encounter or what is coming your way. But the skill we can cultivate is agility, dexterity, and being flexible.

We cannot control the circumstances of our life, or what happens to us, but we can control how to react, respond, and act!


12. You will succeed!

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And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

In life, when we attempt the epic, great, and uncertain– will we succeed? YES WE WILL!

And more words of empowerment from Dr. Seuss:

KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

You have the power to move mountains!!!

Look at the illustration above of the kid, pulling the mountain with wheels! And physically; this actually makes sense!

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Ask yourself, “What is my archimedes lever in life?” Which means; what is your primary strength, where you can literally move the whole world with your lever/determining your fulcrum point of maximum strength?

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13. Your mountain is waiting; get on your way!

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So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!

“Great Places” — just imagine this as a real country or city in your head. Don’t wait around, and get stuck in the ‘waiting place’. Create the own conditions of your life right now, today, and get on your way!


Conclusion

Some takeaways:

  1. Illustrations are powerful, because they can help us better visualize/motivate ourselves to do great things! By studying the illustrations of Dr. Seuss, I better remember/internalize the positive and motivational messages, and therefore am actually more likely to DO MORE epic stuff in life!
  2. For yourself, realize that as a photographer, you have the power to illustrate certain ideas and concepts, by putting the right photograph in the right context.
  3. You’re infinite!

BE BOLD,
ERIC


Buy: “Oh The Places You’ll Go!” on Amazon >

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By ERIC KIM

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