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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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          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 July 8, 2020

                                          How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

                                          How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

                                          Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

                                          For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

                                          But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

                                          It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

                                          The Importance of Saying No

                                          When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

                                          In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

                                          Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

                                          Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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                                          Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

                                          “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

                                          When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

                                          How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

                                          It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

                                          From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

                                          We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

                                          And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

                                          The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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                                          How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

                                          Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

                                          The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

                                          1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

                                          Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

                                          2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

                                          Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

                                          3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

                                          When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

                                          6 Ways to Start Saying No

                                          Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

                                          1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

                                          One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

                                          Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

                                          2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

                                          Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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                                          Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

                                          3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

                                          Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

                                          Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

                                          4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

                                          Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

                                          Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

                                          5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

                                          When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

                                          Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

                                          A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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                                          6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

                                          If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

                                          Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

                                          Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

                                          Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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                                          Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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