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20 Life Lessons I Learned from Harry Potter

20 Life Lessons I Learned from Harry Potter

For Millennials like myself, Harry Potter wasn’t just a book series; it was everything. When Harry Potter enrolled as a first year student at Hogwarts, many of us were starting school for the first time too. The end of the book/movie series even finished around our high school or college graduation. We grew up with Harry Potter, and his story developed with ours.

So it comes as no surprise that there are several life lessons the majority of our generation learned from the series along the way. After all, Harry Potter wasn’t exactly the “chosen one” when it came to being a model student. Here are 20 life lessons we learned from Harry Potter over the course of the series and our adolescent lives.

1. We can’t change our past, but we can change our future

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    Despite the inconsistencies that Hermione’s time turner created for the novel’s plot (because why save only Buckbeak when they could save Lily and James Potter too, am I right?), the above still rings true. Our past shapes us as people, but it doesn’t have to shape the course of our lives. While it can be said that all the series’ characters are prime examples of this, the most obvious of all is Harry, who lost his parents as a baby and as a result had to live with his retched uncle, aunt, and cousin afterward. And yet, this all changed his life for the better by him choosing to attend Hogwarts. The rest is magical history.

    2. Sometimes we have to face our fears to get what we want

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      As much as we’d all like to stay in the comfort of our bubble, sometimes life requires us to pop it for our own good. In Ron’s case, “following the spiders” meant finding the answer to rescuing Hermione from her stunned state in the second novel, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. In Harry’s case, learning to use his patronus meant protecting himself and others from the soul-sucking power of the Dementor’s kiss. In our case…well, we just have to get through an average day to make it to bed by the end.

      3. Money can’t buy happiness

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        You know what people say – money isn’t everything. And it’s not, but it’s hard when you’re a young kid unlocking a vault full of galleons to not think it is. And let’s be real, seeing Harry practically rolling in money like Scrooge McDuck probably sparked the inner gold-digger in all of us. That is, of course, until we realized the Mirror of Erised didn’t show him a landmine of coins, but rather the reason for his inherited wealth – his deceased parents. Still, think that trolley full of pumpkin pasties were a fair trade for a family? Yeah, didn’t think so.

        4. We are never truly alone

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        A-Guide-to-Weird-and-Rare-Harry-Potter-Patronuses

          All of us are subject to the feeling of loneliness, but are we ever truly alone? While seemingly on his own most of the time, Harry Potter always had the support of his friends and guardians, showing us that there’s no such thing as ever being truly alone. The best example of this in the series for me was when Harry wasn’t receiving any letters from his friends all summer, feeling neglected and rejected by them, only to find out Dobby had been hiding them from him the entire time. The next scene that followed, with Ron and the Weasley twins rescuing him in their flying car, was just the cherry on top of the surrounded-by-support sundae.

          5. Friends will get you out of trouble, but best friends will get in trouble with you

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            Sure, a friend will help you out of a predicament (like Lupin did when Snape caught Harry with the Marauder’s Map), but a true best friend will be right there in the thick of it. Any time Harry found himself in a troubling situation, Ron and Hermione faced it with him. I mean, think about it. Can you imagine facing a whomping willow, three-headed dog, and life-size lethal chess set without your best friends? My guess is no.

            6. Sometimes we have to face our own battles alone

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              As much as it helped to have his friends through every obstacle, Harry always ended up confronting his challenger alone and for good reason. We can’t rely on our friends or family to somehow save us from our own problems every time. We have to learn to fight our own battles at some point, whether it’s dealing with the petty jealousy of a friend when you’re unknowingly entered in a contest, or defeating a massive basilisk in the demented water park of your school’s basement. No one said it’d be easy, but Harry Potter proved it’d be worth it.

              7. Animals are sometimes (and often) better company

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                I don’t think any of us needed the Harry Potter series to learn this life truth, but somehow seeing Harry happily flying over the Hogwart’s lake with Buckbeak and stroking Hedwig’s head after a hard day made this lesson 10 times more relatable.

                8. Confidence is not the same thing as bravery

                Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart

                  While Gryffindor was known for producing the bravest of the Hogwart’s bunch, Ravenclaw was known for producing an imitation hero, and his name was Professor Lockhart. More than anyone in the novels, Gildroy Lockhart proved to us that bravery comes from within and cannot be confused with its egotistical cousin, confidence. And look where all that “bravery” got him – a faulty memory, a worthless book deal, and the boot from Hogwarts.

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                  9. You should never let anyone get the best of you

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                    We may not have realized it as children, but Malfoy’s slandering of Muggles, especially Hermione, was an evident example of the prominence of racially-charged bullying. Hermione’s “non-magical blood” made her an enemy in the eyes of the “pure-blood” Slytherins (tell me that’s not a reference to racism). However, Hermione showed us how we shouldn’t be defined by what we are, but rather who we are. And she certainly succeeded in doing so when she punched Malfoy in the third novel. You go, Hermione.

                    10. There’s always some mysterious force working in our favor (or to our disadvantage)

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                      This kind of goes along the same lines as the “you’re never alone” lesson, but speaks to the surprise element of our sly support system. While Harry didn’t know it throughout the course of the series, Snape was always on the side of Dumbledore in protecting Harry from Voldemort, despite Harry’s continuous distrust in him. On the flip side, Harry trusted Mad-Eye Moody in the fourth novel and ended up in a graveyard with the reinvented Voldemort to be nearly killed. So if you think about it, the Harry Potter series destroyed our trust in everyone.

                      11. You should never go anywhere alone without telling or bringing someone

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                        This life lesson was beaten into our brains when we were kids, but still applies to us adults. If we learned anything from Hermione discovering a psychotic troll in the girl’s bathroom while alone, it’s that we should always tell someone where we’re going or bring a buddy with us. Girls, this is a warning – never let your friends go to the bathroom in a bar alone. You never know what other kind of troll is going to be lurking nearby.

                        12. There’s more to others than meet the eye

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                          Often times we unintentionally judge others based on their appearance, but sometimes our assessments aren’t accurate. A great example of this in the Harry Potter series was the character of Sirius Black. For the majority of the third novel, all of us, including Harry, thought he was some crazy, traitorous murderer with a bone to pick with the Potter boy. Then J.K. Rowling did a 180 and turned him into the caring, cool godfather trying to avenge Harry’s parents. Talk about a plot twist.

                          13. Adolescent dances are terrible

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                            Do I need to say more? After watching Ron pine after Hermione, Hermione cry over Ron, and Harry sit alone like every uninterested young boy after his date angrily left him to go dance, I think we could all say the movie scene brought back a lot of bad memories. Those dances should just be banned all together, right Umbridge?

                            14. Being invisible isn’t as great as we think it’d be

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                              As great as the superpower may seem for every introvert and grumpy cat-like person, invisibility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, it’s pretty awesome that Harry gets to move around unnoticed and avoid unwanted attention, but the costs sometimes come more than the rewards. Take for instance when Harry’s roaming around Hogsmeade in his invisibility cloak. He’s all happy, licking a lollipop, and then all of a sudden – boom. He overhears the rumor that Sirius betrayed his his parents. In the next moment, Harry’s crying in the snow and shouting, “He was their friend!” Yeah, I think I’d rather have the gift of cooking delicious Harry Potter meals instead.

                              15. Ultimate power must be used with caution

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                                If there’s anything we’ve learned from Harry Potter, it’s that power is a great and terrible thing. When it’s used for good, power has the ability to change the world for the better. When it’s used for evil though, power has the ability to destroy it. Aside from Voldemort, the best example the novels give us of the detrimental nature of ultimate power is the creation of the elder wand. Wizards have to kill its master to own it, friends kill each other to own it…it’s just all around a machine of destruction. However, I will say the elder wand would make a fantastic travel companion. Accio best vacation ever? I think so.

                                16. With age comes wisdom

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                                  Of all the quotes I’ve accumulated in Word documents, notebooks, and Pinterest over the years, the majority of them come from the Harry Potter series – and most of those were spoken by none other than Dumbledore himself. Whenever Harry found himself in a tough situation, we could always rely on Dumbledore to give brilliant advice or offer a wise suggestion. After all, the man had lived for over a century. It’s not too far-fetched to say he’d learned a couple things or two in his lifetime.

                                  17. With age comes attractiveness (or unattractiveness)

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                                    I’m not the first to say it, but I think I speak for us all when I say Neville pleasantly surprised everyone by the end of the movie series. Talk about a transformation! It just goes to show us that attractiveness can develop over time, and the same goes for unattractiveness. Not to name names, but a certain Gryffindor cutie didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped he would.

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                                    18. The power of love is stronger than the power of hatred

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                                      The phrase “kill them with kindness” applies here. We can’t possibly win over everyone, but Harry Potter showed us that we can triumph in our relationships with loved ones. Even with Voldemort’s constant death threats, Harry Potter always had a support system of family and friends to help him along the way. And in the end, that made all the difference.

                                      19. Sometimes our enemies turn out to be our friends in disguise

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                                        Have you ever known someone you couldn’t stand, only to find out they were actually a pretty decent, bearable person? The question’s rhetorical, but it’s true – our original assumptions of others are often not as spot on as we think. In Harry Potter’s life, this seemed to be especially relevant. From Snape to Sirius, to even Dobby, Harry was proven wrong time and time again by his initial judgments. Then again, when you’ve got an entire band of evil misfits against you, it’s safe to say you’d be a little weary of people too.

                                        20. Magic exists, even for us Muggles

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                                          It’s cheesy, I know, but there’s a certain magic we all experience at some point or another in our lives. While it might not be in the form of witchcraft, the magic we come across can be found in the people, places, and things around us. There’s magic in travelling, writing, reading, music, friendship, love, you name it; and it’s often found where it’s sought.

                                          So for those of us who began and ended our childhood with Harry Potter, fear not. The magic lives on, just in a different way.

                                          Featured photo credit: Never enough time to read…/Kayleigh Nelson via flic.kr

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                                          Last Updated on August 6, 2020

                                          6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

                                          6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

                                          We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

                                          “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

                                          Are we speaking the same language?

                                          My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

                                          When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

                                          Am I being lazy?

                                          When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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                                          Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

                                          Early in the relationship:

                                          “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

                                          When the relationship is established:

                                          “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

                                          It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

                                          Have I actually got anything to say?

                                          When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

                                          A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

                                          When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

                                          Am I painting an accurate picture?

                                          One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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                                          How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

                                          Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

                                          What words am I using?

                                          It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

                                          Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

                                          Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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                                          Is the map really the territory?

                                          Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

                                          A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

                                          I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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