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15 Important Lessons the Harry Potter Series Has Taught Me

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15 Important Lessons the Harry Potter Series Has Taught Me

Although the books about Harry Potter are technically a series for children, they explorer many different grown-up themes. From dealing with loss, to standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, the Harry Potter series is a thoughtful and poignant one. Whether you fancy yourself a Gryffindor or a Slytherin, a human or a house elf, these 15 lessons from Harry Potter will have you pondering your approach to life.

We are only human.

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    “Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” –Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

    Much of the conflict in the Harry Potter series centers around greed and ego. The only way to overcome these problems is to see ourselves as fallible, and accept that sometimes we are wrong. The Harry Potter series consistently reminds us to look at our own faults before tearing down others.  

    You can move on from loss.

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      “The things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end—if not always in the way we expect.” – Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

      Another theme in the Harry Potter series is unexpected loss. Growing from tragedy and moving on is something we all have to learn to do. Ultimately, we recover from loss by growing in unexpected ways, which happens a number of times across the series.

      Love is irreplaceable.

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        “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

        Love is the closest thing to magic that we have, so in the Harry Potter universe, it’s only fitting that love has special powers too. A recurring theme we could all emulate more, Harry Potter teaches us that love is the best solution.

        You can overcome fear.

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          “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

          The Harry Potter series attacks head-on our desire as humans to insulate ourselves from the world. While pretending something doesn’t exist is comforting, ignorance of what challenges us only causes more problems. The Harry Potter series periodically reminds readers that fear of a problem is much worse than the actual problem.

          Death is inevitable.

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            “To the well-organized mind, death is merely the next great adventure.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

            Another theme explored in the Harry Potter series is death. While Harry Potter starts the series ridden with tragedy, he grows to understand that fearing death only takes away our ability to enjoy life.

            Courage is complex.

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              “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

              Where most adventure tales involve standing up to powerful villains, the Harry Potter series doesn’t shy away from the challenges of standing up to your friends. At the end of the first book, when nerdy Neville challenges the cool kids to try and save their lives, he requires just as much courage as those of us standing up to evil. It is important to remember that all kinds of courage are required to be a good person in life.

              We can make our choices.

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                “It is our choices that tell us who we really are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

                Harry Potter is a character whose life is marred by attention and speculation. However, Harry learns that regardless of the abilities he’s born with, the decisions he makes are far more critical for the future. This is a recurring theme that shows all of us we can become what we choose.

                Respect makes a difference.

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                  “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

                  The Harry potter series is full of inequality between those of different species and backgrounds. Despite the attention that surrounds Harry, however, he refuses to treat anyone like less than a friend. The lesson that everyone deserves respect is a powerful and poignant one.

                  Question authority.

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                    “I have no reason to believe that your views are anything other than bilge, Dumbledore. The dementors remain in place in Azkaban and are doing everything we ask them to.” – Cornelius Fudge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

                    Throughout the series, powerful institutions are sabotaged to benefit those doing evil. Because the leader of the Ministry of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, won’t admit he’s lost control, many characters end up suffering. A powerful lesson for everyone, learning to question authority is a crucial lesson for muggle and wizard alike.

                    Understanding others is valuable.

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                      “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

                      With such a complex society, the Harry Potter series parallels many struggles we face in the real world. When Harry is forced to increase his understanding to reach his goals, it’s a reminder that knowledge is power, and empathy is critical.

                      Apathy is toxic.

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                        “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

                        Never shying away from caring for others, master wizard Albus Dumbledore is quick to prompt Harry, and each of us, that indifference is the real enemy of good. Spurring Harry to act on behalf of others reminds all of us to care more about the people in our lives.

                        Loss does not define us.

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                          “You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself plainly when you have need of him.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

                          Another way the Harry Potter series tackles loss is by emphasizing Harry’s memories of those around him who have passed. By learning to treasure our memories of deceased loved ones, we can feel less like we’ve lost someone dear, and more appreciative of the time we had with them.

                          Hope can never be extinguished.

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                            “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” –  Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Alkaban

                            Throughout the course of the series, Harry Potter faces some truly troubling challenges. Despite the evil and darkness he fights, Harry is never willing to give up or grow jaded. This is a powerful reminder that each of us has the power to make the world a little brighter, regardless of our circumstances.

                            Life wasted is worse than death

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                              “Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

                              In chastising Voldemort, Dumbledore reminds all of us that worse than death is a life wasted. Though Voldemort seeks immortality throughout the books, what ultimately defeats him is the rest of the characters’ refusal to waste their lives in fear and suffering.

                              Age is just a number.

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                                “Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

                                Another incredible lesson from the Harry Potter series is that age is no barrier to what you can accomplish. Despite their youth, Harry, Ron, and Hermione conquer some of the most dangerous forces in their world. On the other hand, however, aging wizards like Dumbledore still remain powerful and capable. Emphasizing once again that choices define who you are, the Harry Potter series shows people of all ages limited only by their motivation and imagination.

                                Featured photo credit: Harry Potter/Halle Stoutzenberger via flickr.com

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                                Alicia Prince

                                A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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                                Last Updated on October 21, 2021

                                How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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                                How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

                                Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

                                Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

                                The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

                                Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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                                Program Your Own Algorithms

                                Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

                                Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

                                By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

                                How to Form a Ritual

                                I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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                                Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

                                1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
                                2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
                                3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
                                4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

                                Ways to Use a Ritual

                                Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

                                1. Waking Up

                                Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

                                2. Web Usage

                                How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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                                3. Reading

                                How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

                                4. Friendliness

                                Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

                                5. Working

                                One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

                                6. Going to the gym

                                If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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                                7. Exercise

                                Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

                                8. Sleeping

                                Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

                                8. Weekly Reviews

                                The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

                                Final Thoughts

                                We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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                                Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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