February 7, 2012

16 life lessons I learned from Dickens.

(Wikimedia Commons)

All I Need to Know I Learned from Dickens.

Happy 200th 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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