7 Life Lessons from Harry Potter

Coat of arms of Hogwarts, the fictional school...

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I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. For me it is a wonderful escape into an alternate world that manages to coexist with mine. It offers mystery, adventure, laughs, some romance and most important of all instructions on life itself. While there are many insights and goodies throughout the series, some are truly thought provoking and downright brilliant. Mind you, these concepts have been elucidated time and again over the course of centuries by various philosophers. For me however, it is the ease, clarity and simplicity of how each is described that makes them standout and get me to write this post here.

1. The Unforgivable curses

In the Goblet of Fire, their new Defense against the dark arts teacher, shows his students the unforgivable curses. Each curse is a fantastic embodiment of our basic human rights i.e. to kill a person (the killing curse), to inflict pain (the cruciatus curse) and to control actions of another human being (the imperius curse). The first two are universally acknowledged and condemned everywhere; however it is the third one which we fail to realize, be careful of and need to be extremely cautious with. Thank you Rowling for highlighting this for everyone.

2. Choice between right and easy

This one is again from the Goblet of Fire and is part of a line by their headmaster Albus Dumbledore. I have used this as a gauge for decision making countless times. The absolute right thing is generally the harder to do out of our available options. This doesn’t mean that an easy choice is wrong; it is mostly a quick fix and will hurt in the long run.

3. The world does not consist of only good wizards and death eaters

In book five, The Order of the Phoenix, Harry’s godfather Sirius Black, does a fine job of explaining that the world isn’t split into good and evil or black and white. There are many shades of gray interspersed; and while the gray might not result in ultimate doom, it can be bad in its own accord.

4. It is our choices, not our abilities that define us

A simple line meant to console Harry is delivered at the end of book 2, the Chamber of Secrets. Dumbeldore, explains to Harry that while he has the ability in him to become a great dark wizard, it was his choice that landed him in a house where the concepts of friendship, bravery and courage were cherished and appreciated more than skill and mastery.

5. Contempt and utter disregard cause more harm than outright hate and dislike

Harry may have reacted negatively to this observation of Dumbeldore’s regarding Sirius’s behavior to his house elf (or slave) in the Order of the Phoenix, that resulted in death; however, the lesson is pertinent and holds true to human behavior. How many of us realize that our negligent behavior to our employees, spouse, children, colleagues and other relations can cause great harm. Hopefully, we will be better relatives, friends and coworkers after this.

6. Understanding is the key to overcoming an enemy/obstacle

The best moments in the Half Blood Prince lie in the memories that Dumbeldore has painstakingly gathered from people who knew the boy who later went on to become Lord Voldemort, the most feared dark wizard of all time. Here, he teaches Harry the importance of taking the time to know the enemy – in this case also Harry’s ultimate task -, discover the origins and draw out conclusions on how the enemy thinks and what he knows. For Dumbeldore, this knowledge was essential for Harry if he was to be truly successful in his task of defeating the dark wizard. We all know that this is what helped Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Deathly Hallows.

7. Thank people

How surprised are you with this one? If you are wondering where this is in the book then I will ask you to look at the dedication in The Deathly Hallows. Rowling does a fine job of thanking everyone and all the readers in a beautiful dedication perfectly tailored to mark the end of a great series.

Through analogies, J. K. Rowling manages to educate everyone who reads her books.

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