After being turned down by eight publishers and with very little hope left, J.K. Rowling published the first Harry Potter novel in 1997 being very unsure of the outcome. Ten years later, she released her 7thand final novel in the fantasy series. Rowling created a fantasy wizarding world in Britain and her series of books chronicles the life of Harry Potter, a young boy living in Surrey with his aunt and uncle. On his 11thbirthday Harry finds out that he, like his parents, is a wizard. This sets the premise for the following seven novels. However, aside from creating the ultimate form of escapism for readers looking to venture into a world completely different from their own, J.K. Rowling also gifted us with something else -life lessons. Through thousands of pages Rowling provides readers with lessons not only applicable to the wizarding world, but also to out own. Below you’ll find a list of 20 important lessons J.K. Rowling taught us through the Harry Potter series.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” –Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The lesson here being that although having dreams and aspirations are vital to a happy and successful life, one cannot forget to appreciate and revel in the present moment.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” –Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
It’s easy to call out those we don’t like, it can actually be enjoyable. But sometimes the real test of character is how we react to those we care for when we know they are wrong. Standing up to friends carries the risk of rocking the proverbial boat and sometimes, more often than not, it’s necessary.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” –Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
They say that every cloud has a silver lining. But if we’re honest with ourselves, very often we can’t see it. Although it’s important to always look for the positive in a negative situation, perhaps what Rowling is getting at here is the importance of actively finding the good in an otherwise unpleasant situation.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” –Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
It’s easy to sit around wondering why we weren’t born with the ability to win marathons or paint like Picasso. What Rowling teaches us here is that what matters more is how we direct our own lives through our daily choices -abilities we are born with are secondary to this.
“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals” –Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The way we treat those equal to us is ultimately very little to write home about. When everyone is on the same level there is usually a mutual level of respect and kindness. The way we behave towards those below us, be it in our career or social standing, is what really defines us.
“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” –Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
You can’t heal a wound with another wound, but you can apologise for it and explain yourself.
“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Although Rowling was actually comparing good people and Death Eaters, the principle remains the same. The fact of the matter being that no person is either good or bad -it is what we choose to act on that truly matters.
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Be it a person, a friendship, or a job -losses are unavoidable. The good thing, however, is that regardless of whether we believe in fate, luck, or religion, the universe has a funny way of surprising us when we least expect it.
“Books! And Cleverness! There are more important things –friendship and bravery.” –Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Hogwarts’ resident academic, Hermionie Granger, taught us a lot throughout the series. While being smart and knowledgeable are certainly desirable qualities, there are others ust as important, if not more so.
“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!” –Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Again Rowling highlights the importance of self-determination and strong will with regards to what we become.
“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Luna Lovegood was quirky, gentle, and wise. Here she reminded us of the importance of a good laugh.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Dumbledore taught as a lot, including to never disregard something because it appears to only be happening inside our heads.
“You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Perhaps some of the time a little nerve is all we really need.
“You think the dead we loved truly ever leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly in times of great trouble?”–Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
There are many ways to look at this one. There’s no denying that throughout the Harry Potter series many of the characters suffered terrible loss. Harry lost his parents when he was just a baby and their deaths played a prominent role in Harry’s personal development. Whether we believe in religion or not, it is a comforting thought that perhaps those we have lost will never really leave us and simply having the ability to think of them in times of need is reassuring.
“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
It’s okay and perfectly human to dislike certain people. There is not one person on the planet who likes and cares for everyone. However, what Rowling is illustrating here is that it is the way we act to those we dislike which does far more damage than the dislike itself.
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”–Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
There are no shortcuts to recovery and understanding and what has happened is a vital step in the recovery process.
“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” –Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Frequently referred to as You-Know-Who, Lord Voldemort was the most feared character in the wizarding world. Witches and wizards feared to even speak his name. But this turned out to be counter-productive and simply caused witches and wizards to fear the Dark Lord even more.
“Time will not slow down when something unpleasant lies ahead.” –Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Regardless of whether we must face the consequences of our own poor choices, a task we are dreading or the loomingdeath of a loved one, being prepared for the inevitable will always pay off.
“And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred’s eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.”–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Perhaps one of the most heart-breaking moments in the Harry Potter series was the death of mischievous, quirky, optimistic Fred Weasley. His death broke hearts across the globe but in it lies a lesson that no one ought to forget -the dead live on. Perhaps not physically, but once someone has gifted us with their presence on Earth, they will be remembered. Fred was known for his playful, light-hearted way of being and Rowling played tribute to this with the illustration of his last laugh being etched upon his face during his moment of death. What we give we leave behind and this cannot be taken from those still living.
“What’s life without a little risk?” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Go on, risk it.