February 7, 2012

16 life lessons I learned from Dickens.

(Wikimedia Commons)

All I Need to Know I Learned from Dickens.

Happy 200+th birthday, Charles Dickens!

Everyone loves Whitman, Twain and Thoreau when it comes to literary advisers, but what about good old Charlie? His stories are enchanting and delightful, but there is a depth beneath them that gives us something beyond a simple narrative.

16 life lessons I learned from Dickens:

1. “Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”

{Three goals to which I daily aspire.}

2. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

{Everything else is drunken dumbshow.}

3. “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.” (from Great Expectations)

{It’s never a waste if we learn from it.}

4. “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” (from A Christmas Carol)

{Frequent laughter is a sign you are succeeding.}

5. “To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.”

{Be true, always.}

6. “I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”

{I choose to believe that they are.}

7. “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

{You get to choose how you look at it. Look at the good!}

8. “My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.”

{Don’t be half-way, give everything.}

9. “Family not only need to consist of merely those whom we share blood, but also for those whom we’d give blood.”

{By blood or by choice–family is essential.}

10. “To a young heart everything is fun.”

{Keep it young. Wrinkles don’t matter, but don’t harden your heart.}

11. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” (from David Copperfield)

{Be your own hero. You can do it!}

12. “Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”

{Was Dickens studying the eighth lojong as well?}

13. “In a utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that fairy tales should be respected.”

{Knowledge is important, but imagination is essential.}

14. “Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of good looks.”

{Dickens knew maitri. And perhaps inspired Dahl as well?}

15. “Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.”

{He had no idea how true this would be today! Stop texting and have a conversation.}

16. “A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.” (from A Tale of Two Cities)

{Dickens had it right: “If you want to be happy, think first of others. If you want to be unhappy, think only of yourself.” }

So pull up a chair, open up a copy of Great Expectations or A Tale of Two Cities, and toast a cup of Earl Grey to Mr. Dickens for the 200 years of wisdom he’s shared with us all.

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