Give Your Life Balance by Looking at an Upside-Down World
5 Life Lessons from Alice
Tomorrow is Lewis Carroll’s birthday. I love his stories and poems and I think he had a brilliantly creative mind and imagination. His works were not only fun, humorous, and satirical, but contained true and significant life lessons. We can derive powerful benefits from reading great works of literature like his.
I don’t know if most people would place Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in this category of great novels, but they should certainly take them into consideration.
Alice was presented with many choices during her journey throughout Wonderland. We too are faced with choices every day in this wonderful life and many of these decisions correlate with those offered to Alice. I will point out five important life lessons that can be gleaned from analyzing some of Alice’s adventures.
“One side will make you grow taller”
(Carroll, 2005, p. 34).
1. Be Proud
In growing taller, I am not talking about steroids or hormone treatments. I’m talking about standing tall and being proud. Pride, however, should not mean being puffed up or putting yourself above others.
There are different definitions of pride. A famous verse from the Bible says,
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
(Sproul, 2016, p. 1088)
You’ve probably also heard the saying, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” This can be true if you have an overwhelming opinion of yourself. When you put yourself so high or allow others to put you on such a lofty pedestal and then are brought back to reality, the fall can be embarrassing and devastating.
The definition of pride to which I am referring is “proper respect for oneself; sense of one’s own dignity or worth; self-respect” (Agnes, 1999, p. 1193).
It is a good quality to have healthy self-worth. Be happy with how you were created and don’t be afraid to show it. This kind of self-confidence not only attracts people to you but garners admiration from others.
I am reminded here of an article I read recently by Internal Dialogue about confidence and overcompensation. People who are arrogant and boastful are overcompensating for a lack of self-assuredness.
If you are truly aware of your abilities and they are grounded in reality, why would you need to brag about them, if only to receive validation from others?
In summary, be proud, but don’t be a jerk!
“And the other side will make you grow shorter.”
(Carroll, 2005, p. 34)
2. Be Humble
No, this is not a sequel to “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” I’m talking about humbling yourself. This may seem like a contradiction to the previous section, but it is not. Just as pride should not be taken to the point of arrogance or putting yourself above others, humility should not be taken to the point of belittling yourself.
I don’t want a misunderstanding here. I am not talking about making yourself “less than.” Humility does not mean allowing others to walk all over you; nor does it mean you cannot be proud of who you are or what you’ve accomplished.
To me, one of the most attractive features in another person is humility. Conversely, if I see a handsome guy, but then discover that he is cocky and completely arrogant, he becomes physically unattractive to me. I see his smile as fake and condescending, I take notice of his boastful and arrogant swagger, and view his bulging muscles as overcompensation for a lacking personality. It’s a very interesting phenomenon.
I don’t believe anyone achieves success on their own. Even the “self-made” millionaires received some assistance from others, whether it be family, customers, listeners, lenders, or partners. To be humble is to acknowledge and show appreciation for those individuals who helped you get to where you are.
“Off with her head!”
(Carroll, 2005 p. 93)
3. Don’t Offend the Queen
The Queen of Hearts makes her own rules and they may not make sense to us. It is unlikely that any of us has ever “brushed elbows” with royalty — especially not a leader who has a proclivity for beheading her subjects at the drop of a hat, so to speak.
We do go into other people’s homes and they may have certain rules — taking off your shoes, for instance, because they have a light-colored carpet. Even if there aren’t set rules, it’s not a good idea to enter someone else’s space and intentionally do something to offend them. If I were invited for dinner to the home of someone who is vegan, I’m not going to bring a dish of roasted duck!
On Medium or WordPress, our virtual “homes” are our blogs, so I do not go to someone’s blog and leave a disparaging remark. I don’t try to offend them with my beliefs. I may disagree with what they’ve said, but I’m the one who chose to read it. I can also choose to leave without clapping or finishing the article. I can even block them if I want.
I have had only one negative comment on my blog on Medium since I started a few months ago, and I have not deleted it. I think it is good to show that I can tolerate someone else’s opinion, even if they may have misunderstood my intentions or they just say something out of jealousy or spite.
I was following this person until the negative comment and then I unfollowed him. I don’t go out of my way to contradict any of his comments or posts; in fact, I don’t read them at all because I don’t have to. He is the king of his own castle with his loyal royal followers and I am the King of mine.
Now, if he or anyone else decides to come and be hateful and offensive, I may call for the executioner. “Off with his head!”
“Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and to stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.”
(Carroll, 2005, p. 60)
4. Think Outside the Box
Some of the most successful people in the world came up with new worlds and stories dreamed up from wild imaginations. George Lucas, J.K. Rowling, James Cameron, and Lewis Carroll are just a few. Could your name be added to this list? It’s possible.
“The Jabberwocky” is probably Lewis Carroll’s most famous poem. Over half (67%) of the words in that poem are not actual words; he made them up. Even so, the story depicted in the poem is easily understood.
His novels defy logic, question rational thinking, and they repeatedly ask the question “Why do things have to be as we know them?” In his world, they don’t.
You may not want to use flamingoes as croquet mallets, or hedgehogs as balls, but don’t limit yourself to what society has defined for you. Be imaginative, be creative, and try new things. Follow a rabbit down a hole and see where you end up.
“And that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents.”
(Carroll, 2005, p. 150)
5. Celebrate Life
What is a birthday? It is an annual celebration of your life. What if we didn’t limit the celebration to only one day each year? How would that look? There are 364 other days throughout the year that you can celebrate yourself and be happy with the life you have.
Birthdays also mark the passage of time. We grow older, and to remind us that we are aging, we add another candle to our cake. Suppose you didn’t celebrate your birthday in that way. Imagine if you were to take a moment every day to reflect on what you have and be happy that you’re alive. Your actual birthday would no longer have a negative connotation to it.
I say you should focus on those other days, and have 364 merry un-birthdays. Humpty Dumpty was portrayed as being a bit “dull,” but I think he had quite a good idea. Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss.
Through the Looking Glass
We may not be able to literally step through a mirror and into another world, but we can look at Alice’s adventures and learn some valuable life lessons. Make your own rules like the Queen, keep smiling like the Cheshire Cat, be mad as a Hatter from time to time, and maybe even talk to a caterpillar and eat a mushroom every once in a while. 😉
Step through the looking glass and look at the world in a different way. Looking at an upside-down world at times may be better than reality.
Agnes, M. E. (1999). Webster’s New World College Dictionary (M. E. Agnes & D. B. Guralnik, Eds.). Wiley.
Carroll, L. (2005). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Digireads.com Publishing.
Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2016). Reformation Study Bible-NKJV. Reformation Trust Publishing.
Copyright © 2023 Brandon Ellrich
*Originally published on Medium
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