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5 Positive Takeaways from The Grinch

“‘It came without ribbons! It came without tags!’
‘It came without packages, boxes, or bags!’
And he puzzled three hours till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.’
‘Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’”
– Dr. Seuss

Over the years, there have been several iterations of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, including the 1966 and 2018 animated versions, even a musical version in 2020, and, of course, the 2000 live-action version starring Jim Carrey. As a kid growing up in the early 2000s, Jim Carrey’s Grinch was always iconic, and it’s a movie my family and I still re-watch each Christmas. Although the Grinch is quite a salty character at first, the people of Whoville, particularly Cindy Lou Who and her family, help him understand the true meaning of Christmas, ultimately causing his heart to grow three sizes! Besides being an uplifting, heartwarming tale for you and your family to enjoy, there are also many takeaways from the story. For example, Cindy shows us that you should never judge a book by its cover and that we can all use a friend. And the Grinch demonstrates that no matter where you’re at in life, there’s always room for positive growth and change. By the end, we understand the underlying sentiments that Cindy has been trying to convey: that family and friends are more important than presents, and a little kindness can go a long way. So, grab your trum-tookas and your sloo-slunkers and let’s take a closer look at 5 positive takeaways from the Grinch and how you can utilize them to become your best self and live your best life! 

  1. Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover 

I’m sure we’ve all heard the cliché phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, as cliché as it might be, Cindy Lou Who truly demonstrates why it’s important to look deeper into the pages before making a full assessment. When Cindy has to go into the back stock room at the post office, she interrupts the Grinch throwing jury duty notices and blackmail letters into the postal boxes of the Whos. As Cindy and the Grinch come face-to-face, she gets nervous and accidentally falls into the mail sorter, which is dangerous and could crush her, but before that happens, he saves her at the last second. I think it was at this moment that Cindy knew the Grinch’s heart wasn’t completely ice cold. This example also shows that you never know who may step in to help you in your moment of need, and that’s why you should always spread kindness and never judge a book by its cover. This interaction between the Grinch and Cindy sets the stage for the rest of the film; we know that the Grinch can be inclined to do positive things (although begrudgingly still at this point), but it’s not until Cindy digs deeper with interviewing people from the Grinch’s past that she truly comes to understand why he acts the way he does. As Cindy discovers, you may never know what a person has experienced in their past to make them the way they are today. We’ve all been through hardships and rocky times, but for some reason, we often forget that others may have dealt with similar or even worse situations. Ultimately, Cindy Lou Who and her reception of the Grinch in the initial part of the story really underlines the point of why you should never judge a book by its cover, always spread kindness, and work to mold yourself and others into their best versions so you can all live your best lives. 

  1. We All Need a Friend 

Another thing that Cindy keenly demonstrates is the fact that we all need a friend – even just one friend to begin with. Even though the mayor didn’t want the Grinch to be a part of the Whovilation ceremonies, at the town meeting Cindy convinces everyone by saying that it should go to the Who that needs it the most, and she thought that was the Grinch. Next, she makes her way to the top of Mount Crumpit and chases the Grinch around his lair, trying to convince him to come to the celebrations – if that’s not a dedicated friend, then I don’t know what is! Even though the Grinch ultimately wrecks the Whovilation ceremony (I would say because of Mayor Augustus Maywho being a jerk, by the way!), and THEN he steals Christmas out from under everyone, Cindy still sees past it all and can empathize with the Grinch and how he’s been treated in the past. Honestly, real friends stick with you through thick and thin, and it’s clear that Cindy Lou Who is an ideal model of friendship throughout the entire story. A real friend has your back and doesn’t talk poorly about you behind it, and they’re also there to guide you in the right direction or even sometimes challenge you in ways that force you to grow. Ultimately, I think it’s true that we all need a friend in order to become the best versions of ourselves and love the life we live. 

  1. Family Is More Important than Presents

Although it is important to have friends, something else the film makes clear is that family is more important than presents. In the epigraph, I quoted the lines where the Grinch realizes that ‘maybe Christmas […] means a little bit more,’ and Lou Lou Who (Cindy’s father) outright states to the mayor and other people of Whoville that he’s glad the Grinch stole the presents, that Cindy was right all along, and that he has all he needs right there with his family beside him. This is probably one of the most significant underlying messages throughout the Grinch narrative, no matter which version you watch. The Grinch will always steal Christmas, and the people of Whoville will always realize that it’s not the packages, boxes, or bags that make Christmas; but rather, it’s who you surround yourself with that matters most. Living in the highly capitalist society that we do nowadays, we could do well to remember that family is more important than presents or that quality time is more special than a quantity of gifts. For example, my family and I get together each year to do Christmas baking, cooking, and decorating, and it’s always something that stands out as an amazing memory, and yet it has nothing to do with giving presents. I often find that giving gifts is overhyped – people spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on dozens of gifts that mostly won’t even get used. I always try to find something sentimental or useful for the person that doesn’t break the bank, and I always keep in mind that time spent is more meaningful than money spent. In the end, connecting with loved ones during the holiday season and prioritizing your relationships over presents will help you begin to mold yourself into your new, best self and live your best life. 

  1. There’s Always Room for Growth 

Another one of the main underlying messages in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, exemplified through the transformation of the Grinch, is that there’s always room for growth no matter where you’ve come from or where you’re at. Thanks to the efforts of Cindy Lou Who, as well as some self-discovery on the part of the Grinch, the once salty protagonist is able to completely change his ways and attitude by the end of the story. Once he realizes that Christmas means a little bit more than just presents and that it is going to come whether he wants it to or not, he starts to begin ‘feeling’ again and ‘leaking’ (we call it crying LOL). Next, when the Grinch remembers that he stole Christmas, he has a new level of empathy and care towards the situation, so he saves the presents and returns them to the people of Whoville. Not only does he return the presents, but he even apologizes, which is something we don’t necessarily expect from the Grinch due to his generally unapologetic behavior throughout the rest of the film. However, his new perspective has given him a whole new lease on life, and he truly becomes a different person once he gains this new mindset and fires his old self.  His sincere apology gets him out of any trouble for the fact that he stole the presents (not very realistic, but it is a kids movie based on a Dr. Suess story after all), showing that when you genuinely repent for your wrongdoings, you can be rewarded for your efforts towards growth and change. As the Grinch shows throughout the story, growth and change can be one of the most uncomfortable things. One of the best, visceral (over-the-top) examples of this is when his heart grows three sizes, and he’s writhing around in pain and agony outside his cave. Ultimately, the Grinch proves that there is always room for growth no matter who you are, and he is a true exemplar of how to fire your old self to make way for your new, best self so you can love the life you live. 

5. A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way

Cindy Lou Who is the most obvious example of how a little bit of kindness goes a long way throughout How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Her consistent thoughtfulness towards the Grinch drives the entire story and proves why being kind to others is so important. Without Cindy Lou Who and her curiosity and determination to befriend the Grinch, he would still be alone in his cave. She puts it perfectly when she says, “I came to see you. Nobody should be alone on Christmas!” Furthermore, Cindy helps the Grinch become accepted by the rest of the Whos, and it’s not until the very end that we see how this kindness and acceptance can positively impact even the grinchiest of folks. The people of Whoville open their arms to the Grinch to join around their large tree in the square and sing their Christmas carol. This scene is basically a visual representation of what it means to be a community, and the Grinch even joins in with trying to sing the words to the carol. In the end, when we see the people of Whoville enjoying roast beast in the Grinch’s cave, it’s an incredibly far cry from some of the opening scenes, in particular when the Grinch takes the Who phone book and goes down the list yelling, “hate, hate, hate, double hate, LOATHE ENTIRELY!” By the time the Grinch is carving the roast beast, we see his total transformation and how the kindness of the Who people have affected his entire demeanor and attitude. Of course, change comes from within us, but having a positive support system makes it easier and more comfortable to adapt to change. Thanks to the kindness of Cindy Lou Who and the other Whos, the Grinch now has a new mindset and has been able to mold himself into the new, best version of himself.

Final Thoughts 

The classic story How The Grinch Stole Christmas, originally told by Dr. Seuss, is chock-full of life lessons and positive takeaways. The story helps us remember that we should never judge someone before we get to know them because we don’t know their background or what they’ve gone through. Furthermore, it teaches us that everyone needs a little kindness and a friend in their life to help support them, and it can make a world of difference for your mindset and overall attitude. We all just want to be heard, understood, and validated, whether we are a Who from Whoville or a human from Earth. I think the best thing that the Grinch exemplifies is that it’s never too late to change or grow, and in fact, it’s necessary to become your best self. He also helps us realize that Christmas is about so much more than just gifts or monetary exchanges; it’s about the memories, moments, and love you get to share with your family and friends. Ultimately, we can all learn a little something from the 5 positive takeaways from the Grinch that we have discussed here if we are to truly fire our old selves to create our new selves while remembering Life’s Short, Love the Life You Live! 

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Dani VanDusen

Dani VanDusen is a freelance writer and editor located in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. She holds a BA in English from the University of Alberta where she graduated with distinction, and has been freelancing since the middle of the pandemic. An avid mental health enthusiast, rollerblade extraordinaire, dog mama, and pizza lover, she is a self-proclaimed ‘weirdo’ and says that this helps her be relatable and open in her writing. Dani has been a writer for the Fire Yourself movement since August 2021 and is an integral part of our content team.
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