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World’s best “how-to” book not found in the self-help section

“Your opinion of yourself becomes your reality. If you have all these doubts, no one will believe in you and everything will go wrong. If you think the opposite, the opposite will happen. It’s that simple.”
–50 Cent

My favorite how-to book will never be found in the self-help section of the bookstore. It was written long before the term self-help was even coined.

It’s a children’s book called Harold and the Purple Crayon and it rivals Oprah when it comes to addressing the possibilities of the human condition.

Written by Crockett Johnson in 1955, this little 65-page masterpiece tells the story of a little boy named Harold who decides to go out for a walk one evening. When there isn’t any moonlight (and, of course, everyone knows a good walk requires moonlight), Harold just takes out his purple crayon and draws the moon.

He also needs a sidewalk (which he draws) that leads to a forest (he only draws one tree because he doesn’t want to get lost) that turns out to be an apple tree (or at least it is after Harold’s crayon gets ahold of it). Unfortunately, the apples aren’t ripe yet, so Harold draws a frightening dragon to guard the tree.

When he falls into the ocean, Harold is able to grab his wits and his purple crayon to draw a boat and set sail for a beach, where he draws a picnic lunch with nine kinds of pie.

The whole book is about Harold’s great adventures scaling a mountain, soaring in a hot-air balloon and touring a city, all created by his ever-faithful purple crayon.

It’s a powerful book because it demonstrates a great spiritual truth—we are the authors of our own lives. We draw every detail—even the dragons and the oceans we “accidentally” fall into.

Harold could have gone on his walk, noticed there was no moon and sat down and pouted. Isn’t that what most of us do? “Damn, no moon. Better call my therapist, hit some pillows.” Or he could have drawn his moon, compared it to El Greco, and said, “I’m a hopeless sham. What was I thinking? Me? An artist?”

Instead, he kept reaching for his purple crayon and drawing every event, every answer, every friend he needed. We all have that power.

Harold was only a kid. He hadn’t yet lost his imagination, his sense of wonder and awe. No one had explained yet that he couldn’t have whatever he wanted. As long as he had his purple crayon, he could ride the universe.

Remember that big box of Crayolas with the 64 awesome colors? With that one small gold and green box you could have absolutely anything-—navy blue carousels with peach prancing ponies, magenta castles with yellow-green drawbridges, puffy white clouds and purple grass although your teacher might have frowned on that kind of thing. “Grass is green, don’t you know.”

Each year of school, the Crayola stash gets smaller. By the time we graduate from high school, we’re wielding nothing but a blue Bic for figuring our checking account.

Let’s go out this week and get some crayons. Let’s create our world the way we want it. And if we happen to fall into an ocean or run into a dragon, we’ll just draw ourselves a lifeboat and head for the beach, where at least one kind of pie will be waiting.

Pam Grout is the author of 17 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the recently-released sequel, E-Cubed, 9 More Experiments that Prove Mirth, Magic and Merriment is your Full-time Gig.

49 Responses

  1. Once again your words inspired me at a time that I can and Will put them to use. Thank you Pam!!

  2. Wow Pam I never looked at the harold book that way! what an eye opener! We all have our own Purple crayon!We just have to use it! I will share this with my family! Thanks so Much!

    1. I discovered Harold when my daughter was small. I read to her every single night. And Harold was a favorite…until, of course, Harry and Ron and Hermione came along. Of course, they were writing some pretty exciting adventures themselves.

  3. As I’m reading this at my desk, I am looking right at a brand new large box of crayons that I bought for the grandkids. Hmmmmm, I’m getting some wonderful and fun ideas! Thanks for another inspiring post, just when I really needed it.

  4. I love your posts Pam but how do I find the correct crayon? And when I do, how do I use it correctly? I am the sort of person who needs solid info as opposed to figurative.

    1. Here’s the thing, Harriet. They’re all the right crayon. Whatever is in your NOW is your crayon. You can do with it what you can imagine. Most important is to HAVE FUN!!

  5. Very inspiring! I am going though a very hard time but this gives me some hope. Thanks a bunch!

  6. As an Art Teacher I have often read Harold and The Purple Crayon to children to inspire their creativity……..thank you for reminding me that I can use it to inspire myself….

  7. This is a beautiful message, Pam — thanks so much!!

    Is there a way to participate remotely with your weekly group?

    Annette Ermini

  8. Perfectly AWESOME “illustration”/message! Rummaging thru my Crayola box now!

  9. Pam I haven’t come down from the motivation cloud since your inspiring talk in Denver this weekend. And now this. I feel as though I have my own personal cheerleader! If any of you out there EVER have the opportunity to see Pam speak in person, get your crayon out and draw a train, plane, car, go cart or camel … whatever you can to get there! As always I’m putting the vibe out to The Dude and all of you about Lazarus ..
    Bless you all for your inspiration! Lots of good energy coming from me to you.

  10. Thanks Pam!I’m in recovery from recent surgery. Your posts help ma a lot! Can’t get around yet except in a walker (I call it my cage) but folks tell me that with my upbeat and positive attitude, I will recover completely! I have a lot to be grateful for, and you are one of those helps I need!

  11. Pam, I absolutely love this post. I look forward to receiving your posts as much as I do an upcoming vacation. Seriously. Don’t ever stop!

    P.S. I’m buying a blank coloring book…


  12. Pam I just love you!! Another amazing post that just makes my soul leap a little on the inside and reminds me that I am the artist who creates my canvas. Thank you 🙂

  13. Pam, you cosmic fount of soul joy —

    I’d love to share your posts on Google Plus. Any chance of adding a button for G+ also?

    With appreciation —


  14. Crayons, pencils, I use a journal..I already have written about trip to the Holy Land with Wayne..Pam, I just love your writing!!

  15. I just love this story about Harold and the purple crayon, thank you for sharing! Kindest regards and blessings Katy Hart Gisborne, New Zealand

  16. HI Pam,,

    I have two boxes of crayons and a fairy coloring book along with a web site that has pages you can print out and color (for adults)! Harold is a great example and I thank you for sharing your insight once more so that I can “awaken” to a deeper level” of understanding and also to give myself permission to play instead of work towards creating the world I want to live in! By the way, the bubbles I play with every day are AMAZING TOO!!!

    Rev. Janet Ellis

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