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7 Life Lessons from Sherlock

7 Life Lessons from Sherlock

We still have a few days until series four of Sherlock starts on New Year’s Day. But while we wait for the return of our dear crime sleuths, we can look back at our previous encounters with them and learn a few life lessons. Yes, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson have not just given us exciting crime stories to watch and enjoy, but they have taught us much more than just crime solving without us even realizing. Looking closely at the series reveals that there are life lessons we can learn from these characters, and indeed some very important ones!

1. Pay Attention to Details

What makes Sherlock Holmes so successful in solving his cases? He notices the things that we generally miss. There are many times when the solution is right in front of us. However, we are so absorbed in the world we live in that we tend to miss those clues that can lead to resolving the issue at hand. Developing Sherlock-level attention to detail may be challenging, but it would definitely be worthwhile.

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2. Focus on What Really Matters

“Listen: [pointing to his head] This is my hard-drive, and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful. Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish, and that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters! Do you see?”
~Sherlock Holmes

This means that useless information in the brain is like having junk all around the room. It makes it difficult to store something important or to find what is needed. Sherlock suggests that peripheral distractions that clutter the mind can derail the focus from important things and goals. So say no to activities, people, issues, and meetings that distract you from the goals you have and pay more attention to what’s really important.

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3. Don’t Have a Job or Are Unemployable? Just Create Your Own Job

Our consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, also shows us that being unemployed or unemployable is just fine, or perhaps more than fine. One can invent their own job and do what they are passionate about. If they give it their best shot, utilizing all of the strengths and skills they have, then lo and behold: the job is done!

4. One Good and Like-Minded Friend is All You Need

For many of us, the philosophy is “the more the merrier”. However, from Sherlock we can see that even one friend or a few trusted ones are enough. Sherlock is a solitary character with only Watson as a sounding board. Hence, he gives us this lesson that having a friend who understands you, gives you honest opinions, and guides you when you are going in the wrong direction is all you need. With this friend, you can share and discuss anything and everything, voice your thoughts or vent your frustrations. It is also not necessary that the two have similar personalities, as Sherlock and John are two very different people. However, they should be able to understand and value each other.

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5. Never Let Failures and Criticism Drive Your Life

Facing failures and getting criticized by people are inevitable aspects of life. Many times people lose hope when they fail, or they feel dejected when they are criticized for their failures. However, all is not lost as long as one doesn’t lose hope in themselves. We can see that for Sherlock, too, success is not a luxury. Instead, he works it out by means of careful planning and utilization of his skills. During many cases that he takes there are ups and downs, and many times he faces failures. Similarly, despite all the fan-following that he has, he is criticized by people for a variety of things. The episode, “The Reichenbach Fall” illustrates how a person at such great heights of popularity suddenly becomes the “Fake Genius” in the eyes of the people. He is also called a psychopath at some instances. However, he doesn’t allow any setbacks or criticism to stop him from doing what he wants to do and being who he is. His attitude towards both failure and criticism teaches us how not to give these the authority to rule our lives.

6. There is Always More Than One Way to Approach a Problem

Sherlock Holmes makes use of many approaches to problem-solving. Sometimes he disguises himself, other times he searches for information and then makes a plan, and at other times he makes use of clever deception for drawing the players into the game. In case an approach fails, he does not end his pursuit of the solution, but looks for other options and approaches to take. Hence, we can learn from him that there is not just one way of approaching a problem. To be clear, I am not suggesting to take his indoor target practice as a lesson; there are many other approaches apart from that to learn from him.

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7. Don’t Judge Anyone by Face or Appearance

How do we perceive someone we have met for the first time? We tend to judge that person, assign him or her to some sort of category, or come up with some explanation of what that person is or what he or she is likely to be. Sherlock shows us the extent to which one can be wrong when they judge anyone by face or by some of his or her initial actions. This we saw through his initial judgment of Moriarty as gay and how he was later revealed as a totally different person. Even though Moriarty was disguised that way and wanted Sherlock to believe him to be gay, Sherlock only judged him by his appearance and did not look beyond that when he first met him.

Conclusion

These were a few lessons that I learned from Sherlock. There are many others that you may deduce on your own if you pay attention. Fingers crossed for the new season that is set to bring some more life lessons and be just as entertaining as the previous ones!

Featured photo credit: Sherlock via pbs.org

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Mehwish A. Wahid

Writer and Researcher

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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