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Tag Archives: Dr Seuss

Think outside the box. Or, climb out completely.

I sometimes wonder if we all live in boxes.

Personally, I dislike – nay, am very uncomfortable – being in a confined space of any sort. CloseThink outside the boxd into a box, with a lid shut down on me – even the thought fills me with the heebie-jeebies. Our cat, now, there is a different creature. No matter how small the box, our daft moggy will attempt to squeeze herself inside. Bits of her sticking out all over, but something about being in a box makes her feel safe from the world (not that the world in which she lives – our home – is in any way scary; the only risk here is being loved to death by Younger Members of the household).

But a quick trawl of any kind of management or business publication or website would suggest that boxes are our preferred domain. After all, exhortation is all around us to “think outside the box”.

This has become one of those grossly over-used phrases that has largely lost it’s impact. Now more of a tired cliche than a novel challenge to change the way one thinks. The phrase apparently originates in the late 1960’s – I had no idea that it had been around that long.

But to think outside the box suggests that you do indeed have to be in a box in the first place.

And therein lies the rub. For sometimes, it is easier, or safer, or more comfortable to remain within the confines of our own familiar way of thinking. Assumptions, expectations, past experiences, lack of confidence, or the belief that our way is the only way or the right way can all form boxes within which we choose to remain.

Sometimes it is our attitudes that need a gentle challenge or prod to get us to start to think differently. To step back and consider that another view point might also be valid.

Sometimes, when we feel constrained by the box we are in and have lost inspiration for the task at hand, climbing out of the box and walking away from it entirely is required. I came across this fun quote of Dr Seuss in my recent meanderings through his sayings –

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

And there is the irony. Sometimes, it is only when we stop actively trying to think that inspiration comes. How often have you found yourself facing a computer screen or a page, brain filled with fog, struggling to express or write or draw or design what you need to do. Box walls all around, closing in, squeezing and inhibiting ideas and original thought.

What to do? Climb out the box altogether.

Leave the room and go and do some completely unrelated mundane task. Leave the building and go for a walk. Do a few star jumps, go and post a letter, walk up and down the stairs a few times, hang the washing out. Switch off the trying-hard-to-think brain and often what happens is space opens up for the creative wiring in our brains to start to crackle and fizz, and we are off!

When our cat climbs out of a box into which she has squeezed herself, she will indulge in a long and luxurious stretch. I watch her and think, I could learn from that. To stretch myself, metaphorically speaking, to try new things. To reach further, to engage bits of me that have lain dormant. To extend myself well beyond what I thought was possible.

Need to think outside the box? Maybe climb out altogether and have a good mental stretch.

Words of wisdom for summer from Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss remains a deep well of inspiration to mine for wisdom and challenge. Try some of these on for size –

If you never did you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.”

If I asked you the question, what do you do for fun, how would you respond? I have observed a curious response to this question from a number of people – that I am asking them a question in a language they simply do not understand. I might as well ask the question in Swahili for all that it can be computed and processed.

Just having funFun? But my life is so busy, so full of duty, responsibility, doing the right thing, there is no room for fun. Duty, responsibility, service – all are very important. However, the absence of life-affirming, joy-restoring, just-for-the-sake-of-it fun can cause us to slowly frizzle up. Slipping and sliding down the path of weariness, stress, mental fatigue towards burnout. To lose touch with the inner child, with part of who we are at our core, with what it is just to engage in a bit of nonsense. Or to do something simply for us – to prioritise ourselves for a brief spell.

Fun is an important aspect of our lives. It is good for mental renewal, for spiritual and emotional recharging, for expanding our creative free thinking and inspiration. And to keep us, and our outlook on life young.

If you had a clear diary, and nothing hindering you, what would you do for fun?

How could you incorporate just a little bit of that into the every-day? But it’s complicated I hear you say….again, to quote Dr Seuss –

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

How often is the answer simply a matter of prioritising our time differently? Busy people often say, well it’s not that simple – but actually, what that belies are many excuses for why making a simple decision is difficult.

We might have to face some inner demons, we might have to let some people down, which is never easy. We might have to acknowledge what needs are being met in being super busy – our need to be useful, needed, responsible – and without that, who does that make us?

How often do we choose to not face up to the simple answer because it demands too much of us?

This is linked to the idea of having fun. Fun is important, and takes a little time and shifting of priorities. This can be as simple as we choose to make it. I would be sorely grieved indeed to get to my funeral, and have people say of me, as perhaps Dr Seuss might –

she was responsible, organised, could get all things done,

but she didn’t seem ever to have time just to for fun.

More musings inspired by Dr Seuss…and fish.

teach a man to fish

Teach a man to fish…

As part of an occasional series of thoughts and musings based on Dr Seuss words and quotes, here are another couple of my favourites:

 Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!”

There has been much in the popular press recently about the scientifically proven power of gratitude. I can testify to this in an entirely unscientific way. Furthermore, I have anecdotal evidence of several clients. Each of them is choosing to record three things daily that they are thankful for, or that are good in their lives. And each one speaks to the huge perspective shift they are enjoying –

immensely helpful

empowering

“focusing on positive outcomes and feeling much better”

Try it for a week – at the end of each day, simply write down three things you are thankful for. And see what happens Duckie.

 

It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

I LOVE this. If there is one sentence that sums up the power of life coaching, then this is it. If I tell you the specific solution to one particular problem that you have in your life, then once that problem is resolved, you potentially find yourself back to square one when the next problem comes along – stuck with a new problem and no solution.

However, if I enable you to come up with solutions for yourself by learning how to problem solve, then you are potentially set up for life. Each of us has the ability within ourselves to come up with creative and unique solutions to our own problems. What we sometimes lack is an outside perspective, and some objectivity to think outside of the box and learn how to problem solve.

Put it another way –

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.

Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. 

‘Twas my grandfather who used to say that, not Dr Seuss. Ancient Chinese wisdom was considered to be the source of this saying, although doubt is now cast on this. It matters not a jot.

What matters is the ability we each of us have to learn how to learn, and therefore be better equipped for the rest of our lives.

Need help learning to fish, metaphorically speaking? Get in touch – I can help! Find out more about what life coaching is and how it can help you here.

 

Dr Seuss inspired thoughts Part 2

Think and wonder, wonder and think.What I love about Dr Seuss is his ability to encapsulate huge concepts in only a few words.

And to do so in beautiful, succinct and often very funny rhyme and rhythm.

This is such a small phrase, and such simple concept.

And yet, in this multimedia, technological world, how much more important to take time to switch off, unplug, and create physical and mental space to think and wonder.

Everyone around us has an opinion. And the extraordinary assault on our minds that is social media ensures that those opinions are entering our lives and homes and minds all the time. But we have a choice – a familiar refrain here. And that choice is to switch off sometimes from the opinions and views of others, and instead choose to wonder and think our own thoughts. Not necessarily that we might then share those thoughts on those very same social media platforms. But that we might simply again stop in wonder like small children at the extraordinary natural world around us. At the enormity of our own capacity to think original thoughts and wonder our own original wonderings.  And that fits well with –

You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”

What did you miss last week because you had your eyes shut, metaphorically speaking?

We can keep our eyes shut to what is around us by being glued to technology – smart phone engaging part of our brain, half listening or half paying attention with the other part.

By being focused with tunnel vision on what is The Next Thing we need to do, driven by our to-do lists.

By being emotionally absent because we are trapped somewhere else in our minds due to negative self-belief or self-talk, worry or anxiety, our own selfish agenda.

What would it mean to open our eyes instead, that we might really see what is around us – to see and notice the wonders of the world in the small, everyday moments?

To not miss the body language in conversation that indicates more is below the surface if we would only draw it out?

To see the emotion behind the words and be present in that, entering into that space we might otherwise miss?

To receive the compliment as it was intended, and not bat it away with our own negativity? All this can be learned and it starts with keeping our eyes open. And sometimes, when we keep our eyes open and don’t miss what is actually going on, we might find ourselves opening up to new opportunities or perspectives:

If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

If we are honest, perhaps that is what we are afraid of….that our own agenda and carefully crafted and controlled plan for our day/week/life will be derailed in a direction over which we seem to have no control.

Maybe that is just me……

…..but I am learning to sometimes let go of my own agenda, and get myself out of the way.

To practice opening my eyes to what is most important in that moment, and in so doing, to catch the emotional connection, or conversation opening, or spark of silliness that I would otherwise have missed, that I might not initially have thought there was space for.

Sometimes I need to recognise that my need to control often clouds or blocks entirely opportunities that make my life richer and allow me to learn more about myself and others, and take myself less seriously.

And surely Dr Seuss would approve of that!

Dr Seuss inspired thoughts Part 1

Last week’s post on not living out someone else’s values prompted a fabulous Dr Seuss quote from a dear friend:

Today you are you, that is truer than true; there is no-one alive who is you-er than you.”

I had a little fun looking up more Dr Seuss quotes, and re-reading some of our much-thumbed copies of his books.  And I thought we could have a little more fun looking at some of the thoughts that other quotes inspire.

Dr Seuss inspired thoughts

Dr Seuss inspired thoughts

This is another way of saying ‘Carve up the elephant’, which was one of my wise old grandfather’s favourite expressions.

Mountains are solid, huge, and look entirely immovable. What situation are you facing in your life that you would describe in similar ways? Perhaps a problem at work, an assignment or training need. Perhaps a relationship.

Perhaps a tread-mill way of living that is unsustainable but you have no idea where to start. Well, start with the first step.

 

 

  • Where do you want to get to? What is the mountain, and what would it mean to move it? Create that image in as much detail as you can, adding in how it feels to get there and what success in that area looks like.
  • Then work backwards – what would the steps be to get there?
  • And therefore what is the first step?
  • Make it small, achievable, and recognisable once completed.
  • Then take the next step.
  • And the next.

Before you know it, that mountain has moved.

 

And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed!)

Success is often achieved in the mind. That is not to say hard work, determination and resilience are of no use. They are incredibly important.

And of course, nothing in life is fully guaranteed (except that you are going to die, sorry).

But our mindset forms either the starter block or stumbling block to success.

If you believe you can do something, you are much more likely to succeed. If you fill your mind with negative thoughts of how much a failure you are, how little you have to offer, how you’ll never be able to be able to do whatever it is, chances are you will become your own self-fulfilling prophecy. Your efforts will be hamstrung at your own hand.

What we believe produces our thoughts, our thoughts dictate our emotions, and our actions follow on from this. Believe you will succeed, your thinking patterns will be more positive and success-oriented. You will feel more optimistic, energised and motivated. And your actions will put you well on the path to success.

 

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

This follows on nicely – we often fall in to the trap of believing we are victims of our circumstances or of the behaviour of other people. Actually, most of the time this is hogwash, but it can be painful and quite exposing to acknowledge that.

But we choose what we fill our minds with, and we choose how we respond to other people.

Event A happens and I respond like C. I then all too easily believe that A causes C. And therefore I blame A for my response or reaction. I believe I had little choice in what happened, and in so doing, put my circumstances in control rather than being in control myself.

But, as I said, hogwash.

In that gap between the two there is a choice – B. B is what we tell ourselves about the event A – the role of the ‘brains in our head’. Event A will have evoked certain beliefs I have about myself, which may or may not be true. I can then choose to identify what I am believing, correct it if necessary, and make a choice to respond differently – to steer myself any direction I choose.

This takes time, effort and practice, but if I have a positive mindset and expect to succeed, and take one step at a time to move the mountain, all things are possible!

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