When I was small, my Ma used to read to us Dr Seuss’s classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Later in my life, I used to read the same story to my children. It was a book we read again and again because of the message.
I love the message. It is about the adult world and human nature. The Grinch was a mean, small-hearted creature who, because of his loneliness, hated the Whos who were happy and joyful everyday. One Christmas, the Grinch decided to steal the Whos food and presents so that the Whos will not be able to celebrate Christmas and be as miserable as him. But you know what, the Whos were such a joyous bunch that despite having no food and no presents, they continued to sing and dance and celebrate as joyously as they always did. Even better, they invited the Grinch to be part of their happiness. And the Grinch was transformed by the Whos kindness and generosity. Love is indeed transformational.
One day, my son Jack asked me, “Why was the Grinch so mean, Mum? What made him mean?”
As Jack was very young then, I told him, “Because he was unhappy inside and unhappy people always want to make other people unhappy like them.”
What could we do to help Grinches? Love them like the Whos loved the original Grinch, I guess, in the hope that they join us in Whoville. But beware, don’t get yourself dragged off to the lonely unhappy Grinch mountain to keep the Grinch company in his misery!
Note: if you are interested in neurobiology of human emotions, read John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago’s Psychology Department’s Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. After extensive study and research analysing brain responses via MRI, Cacioppo concluded that physical and social isolation cause some people to be ‘more comfortable’ in unhappiness, but also seem obsessed with the emotional “drama” (that ‘wrong movie’ feeling). The Grinch lived for years in his lonely mountain on his own with only his dog for company.
I strongly believe we’re only at our best when we allow loved ones to be part of us and my source of joy had always been my family. We are on this earth to help each other, not to live like islands.