35 Ways Harry Potter Is Still Crazy Relevant
Find the magic in everything.
No one can dispute that the Harry Potter books were a really, really big deal. The original seven books have sold more than 500 million copies globally, and it remains one of the best-selling book series in publishing history.
But, would it be fair to say that the content of these magical books is still relevant? The last book, The Deathly Hallows, came out in 2007—more than a decade ago—and its movie adaptation was released in 2011. A lot has happened since then—not just in literature and film, but in the world in general. Why should anybody pay attention to the adventures of a young wizard with a lightning bolt scar? It’s yesterday’s news, the byproduct of another era. Who cares anymore, right?
Wrong! In many ways, the Harry Potter books are more important than ever. Within the pages of those seven books are life lessons still useful today—perhaps even more so than they were when author J.K. Rowling first sat down to write them. As we approach Rowling’s birthday (she turns 54 this month!) let’s take a moment to look at some of the ways Harry Potter can help you make sense of your life in 2019.
J.K. Rowling is still the ultimate rags-to-riches story.
Rowling came up with the Harry Potter story on a train while on her way to a low-paying job. What’s more, she finished the first book of the series while enduring poverty, a divorce, and the death of her mother. If there’s any billionaire we can learn a thing or two from, it’s J.K. Rowling.
Dumbledore is the mentor figure we always needed.
Dumbledore’s wise words make sense not just during the Triwizard Tournament, but also in everyday muggle life. Whether you’re deciding on a career path or choosing a house to buy, you can always turn to the headmaster’s words of wisdom to guide you.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” he once said. You don’t need to be a teenage wizard to get goosebumps from life advice like that.
Sometimes the fool can turn out to be the hero.
In the beginning of the series, it was easy to write off twin brothers Fred and George Weasley as nothing more than jokesters. They were harmless but inconsequential goofballs that were easy to love—and ultimately, they couldn’t be counted on to save the day. In the end, however, Fred died heroically fighting against the Death Eaters. It’s a nice lesson in never judging a book by its cover.
Don’t spend too much time looking in the mirror (or at a screen). It’s not a real depiction of the world.
The Mirror of Erised shows Harry and his friends the idealized version of their desires. But what they see in the mirror is not the real world, and they eventually learn to look away. In Dumbledore’s words, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
Always read the book.
Books always have the answers—whether you’re reading the dictionary, the encyclopedia, or Hogwarts: A History. (No knock to the films, but the Harry Potter books have way more detail and nuance. Read them, then watch the adaptations.)
The people who seem the most different from you can end up mattering to you the most.
Professor McGonagall was an animagus, Hermione Granger was a “mudblood,” and Hagrid was a half-giant. And yet, without them, Harry wouldn’t have even made it past the first book.
Your flaws can be your strengths, too.
Harry had a tendency to be impetuous—and in some cases, this resulted in disaster. However, his so-called “flaws” were also what led him to perform unimaginable acts of kindness and bravery. And for more ways to imbue the world with some much-needed kindness, check out these 33 Small Acts of Kindness You Can Do That Will Change Your Life.
The things that seem boring today could save a life tomorrow.
When you’re a young and restless kid, paying attention in class is almost impossible. However, sometimes those dull lessons can come in handy. Case in point: It was thanks to a lesson learned during Potions class—a class taught by the sketchy Professor Snape—that Harry was able to save Ron’s life when he was poisoned.
Anger leads to hate and hate leads to the dark side.
Voldemort started out as just a young, angry Tom Riddle. But with all that pent-up anger inside him, he turned to hate and became the starring villain of the Harry Potter series.
You can only pretend to be someone else for so long.
Eventually, the Polyjuice potion wears off.
A bully might just be scared of what they don’t understand.
Bullies tend to blindly believe in whatever lies are being fed to them. In the Harry Potter series, all of the bullies had one thing in common: none of them bothered to understand why they hated—only that they should.
Your soulmate might just be the person who’s been right there the whole time.
Ginny and Harry; Ron and Hermione; Lupin and Tonks. In Harry Potter, it was pretty much a prerequisite to be friends before you became an item.
Help is available to all who ask for it.
There’s no shame in asking for help—even the wisest man still has something to learn. It could be as simple as needing advice for a problem in your life, or even needing a ghost’s help to crack a secret golden egg. It’s all the same—asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you (and everyone else) stronger.
The simplest gifts are the best.
It really is the best feeling when you give someone the perfect gift. And most of the time, it’s the simplest of gifts that mean the most. Perhaps there’s someone you know who’d love a pair of new socks or even just a single old stinky one; if Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that a single sock can change a person (or elf’s) life—literally.
Never take the car without asking.
It doesn’t matter how old you are: If you “borrow” your dad’s flying (or grounded) Ford Anglia and crash it into a tree, you will get a Howler from your mother.
You decide who your family is.
At the end of his life, Sirius Black’s family was comprised of a werewolf, a gaggle of children, a house elf that hated him, and a Hippogriff. And yet, he was the most content family man there ever was.
Sometimes kissing the wrong person can be disastrous.
Before kissing anybody new, ask yourself, “Is this person a Dementor who’s going to suck out all of my happiness and maybe even my soul?” Some romances are just not worth it.
Never trust a rat.
Trust is important, but not everyone deserves a place in your inner circle. Someone who doesn’t keep your secrets isn’t worth letting into your life—or, in Harry Potter terms, into your hollowed-out Whomping Willow. (If you’ll recall, Ron’s rat turned out to be the turncoat Peter Pettigrew.)
Your memories are always worth preserving.
Harry Potter had the luxury of a Pensieve—an object that “siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure.” But, unfortunately, we muggles have to do it by hand. So, take the time to write down your memories and snap photos; one day you’ll look back on those moments past with a faint smile and sense of nostalgia.
Grammar and proper pronunciation count.
If you can’t say the spell correctly, it will never work. As Hermione once reminded Harry, “It’s Wing-GAR-dium Levi-O-sa. Make the ‘gar’ nice and long.” If wizard kids can figure out these complicated spells, surely your Facebook friends can remember the difference between “your” and “you’re.”
If you treat the animals and plants with respect and care, they’ll take care of you.
The world is a symbiotic place, so treat it with care—it might just pay off in the long run. For instance, if you bow to the Hippogriff, they will help you soar.
Always keep chocolate around.
You never know when you’re going to need it. For instance, just like Harry found out, chocolate is the only antidote for a horrifying encounter with a Dementor. Hey, it’s not like we needed another reason to love chocolate, but we’ll take it!
The wand chooses the wizard.
Or, in other words, don’t put a round peg in a square hole. You were meant to do something amazing in this world, and it’ll choose you, not the other way around.
There’s always going to be a teacher who doesn’t like you.
Just do your detention, keep your mouth shut, and wait for the year to be over when you’ll inevitably get a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Your words matter.
And that means you should only use them for good. As Madam Pomfrey once observed, words and thoughts can “leave deeper scars than almost anything else.”
Imperfect actions and imperfect thoughts are perfectly perfect.
No one is perfect all the time, but it’s what you do after those imperfect moments that define you. What can you fix? Or, what can you do better the next time you lash out at your friends in the middle of a quest to save the world?
Trust that you’ll be strong enough when the time comes.
Neville Longbottom began the series as the most shy and clumsy kid at Hogwarts—hardly the one anyone would look to as a hero in the making. But that shy kid came out of his shell and saved Harry and his friends by destroying the seventh and final Horcrux. Inside every kid lacking confidence and athletic ability now there may still be a hero waiting to be born.
Sometimes you’ve got to run full speed into a brick wall to see what’s on the other side.
Do it with reckless abandon and you might just be rewarded with a magical journey. You also might smash your head into solid brick, but you won’t know either way unless you take the leap of faith.
Tell someone how you feel. It matters.
Harry and Snape’s love-hate relationship was one for the books (and the movies), and Snape had no problem demonstrating how much the young wizard annoyed him. But when it came to his admiration and, ultimately, protectiveness towards Harry, he played his cards close to the chest. In fact, he died before Harry was able to thank him for saving his life (on multiple occasions) and never got the chance to tell Harry how much he really cared. Speak up before it’s too late!
Just because someone isn’t talkative and outwardly warm doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to say.
McGonagall’s still waters run deep, but her stern exterior masked an intense loyalty and boundless love. So, next time you meet somebody who seems emotionally closed off and overly strict, don’t be too quick to rush to judgment. With some people, you just need to look deeper.
You’ll never go wrong if you stand up for yourself.
Hermione’s the smartest of Harry Potter’s friends—and often the most level-headed and independent. She showed women around the world that they should never be afraid to stand up for what’s right. So, if you ever need a reminder of what a true feminist looks like, look no further.
There’s always a way to defeat a dragon.
And no two muggles or wizards are going to do it the same. Trust that your instincts won’t lead you astray.
Things that seem impossible today could become real in no time.
Harry Potter technology is inching closer to becoming real by the day. Have you seen the Tile—a Bluetooth tracker that helps you find your phone or keys? It’s pretty much the Remembrall, the glass sphere that turns red when you’ve forgotten something. (But let’s be honest, the technology we really want is the Firebolt.)
There’s magic in the ordinary if you look for it.
In the end, it came down to a stone, a stick, friends, family, and a cloak. Nothing out of the ordinary, but when combined, they had an indelible effect on everyone who came in contact with them. Be careful what you value: the simplest things—those that might otherwise go overlooked—are often the most powerful.
Harry’s story never really ends.
The story never ends in our minds because we’re all a part of Harry Potter’s history and his future. It’s the reader, the re-reader, the viewer, the theater attendee, the illustrator, the fan-fiction writer, and the librarian that all still turn to Hogwarts every once in awhile, just to see what’s happening and maybe get a little advice on how solve something in our own muggle world. And for more fascinating things, check out the 50 Incredible Things You Never Knew Existed.
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