Little Women is one of those novels everyone should read in their lifetime. It’s a true classic for so many reasons. I re-read it recently after the movie came out, and each time I read it, I discover a new little nugget of wisdom or life lesson. Even though it was set in the 1860s, it’s still relevant for encouraging girls to be strong women today. Here are some of my favorite life lessons that Louisa May Alcott gifted us in Little Women.
Let your word mean something.
Jo, our prolific writer, says in the book, “I like good strong words that mean something.” Especially as a woman trying to break into a predominantly male occupation, the words you choose have a huge impact on how you are perceived. Choose your words carefully and express yourself in the way you want to be understood.
You can handle whatever life throws at you as long as you try.
Marmee, is the true moral center for the four March sisters. Her husband is a chaplain for the Union army and this basically makes Marmee a single mom the majority of the time. Somehow, she must navigate an uncertain world on very little money while at the same time holding her family together. She steers an emotionally charged household with four teenage daughters and manages to navigate an uncertain world on very little money while still raising her daughters with love and values.
Kindness is the greatest value.
Do you remember that part of the book where the girls wake up Christmas morning to find Marmee gone and helping deliver a baby? They end up taking their modest Christmas feast over to the house of a poor family, even though they don’t have much themselves. Kindness is one of the cornerstones of how Marmee raises her girls, and in turn they learn how to weave kindness into their everyday.
Let go of expectations.
Amy tells Laurie, who’s been in love with Jo for years, that he can love her forever if he chooses. She adds: “But don’t let it spoil you, for it’s wicked to throw away so many good gifts because you can’t have the one you want.” No listen, I think Jo should have ended up with Laurie as much as the next person, but I’ve accepted that it’s not meant to be. And just like Amy suggests, I’ve let go of my expectations and accepted change. Is there a more quintessential human challenge than letting go? Don’t let the one thing you thought you wanted ruin all the good things you have going on in your life.
Keep a healthy balance in your life.
As a workaholic, I feel this one deep in my gut. But Marmee is right, as she usually is. We never know how much time we have here on earth, so we have to make the best of each and every moment we are given.
If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love anyone else?
OK, so that might be a RuPaul quote, but the sentiment is the same. The Little Women quote, “Be worthy love, and love will come” is as applicable today as it was in 1860. We can’t expect someone to come along and save us or make us whole. We have to be fully satisfied and sure of ourselves as individuals before we can truly experience everything that love has to offer us.