10 Life Lessons from Albus Dumbledore

by Shaun Fitzpatrick

I'm not usually a big fan of life advice. As a twentysomething woman, it seems like everyone wants to give me dating tips or help me figure out what I should do with my future. Even Tom Hiddleston wants to help me. I know everyone means well, but it can be pretty annoying at the same time. Can't I just live my life in peace?

There is one person, however, that can give me all the advice he wants. And by "person", I obviously mean "fictional wizard." That's right, from now on I am only accepting life advice from Albus Dumbledore. He's probably the most well-qualified person, fictional or otherwise, to be dishing out life lessons due to all of the tragedies and successes he has had during his life and tenure at Hogwarts. He's managed to defeat numerous evil wizards, successfully run a magical school for decades, and even keep disaster-prone Harry Potter alive. If we should be listening to anyone, it's him.

I revisited my collection of Harry Potter books for roughly the 10th time this year and found some of Dumbledore's best advice. Just pretend that you're sitting in his beautiful office with Fawkes on your shoulder as he talks you through your problems.

1. "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."

A good lesson for Harry, and probably one that resonated with a lot of us young bookworms as well. I was (OK, am) guilty of sometime preferring my world of books and stories to real life when things get tough, and when I find that happening I think back to this line.

2. "There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."

This applies to more than just Neville! Not only is it good to remember that there isn't just one type of bravery, it's also important that we stand up to our friends if they seem to be becoming toxic or begin to go down a bad path (like attempting to sneak past a three-headed dog in the forbidden third-floor corridor, for instance).

3. "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Harry might have the characteristics of a great Slytherin, but all of that pales in comparison to his desire to be brave and help those that he loves. So while you may not be perfect by nature, choosing to be better than you think you are reflects the type of person you are more accurately.

4. "You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?"

Considering that shades of his dead parents pop up throughout the series, this quote applies a bit more literally to Harry. But it's a nice sentiment nonetheless, and comforting to think that in times of need our loved ones will be with us, at least in spirit.

5. "You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!"

Fudge and the other bigots at the Ministry of Magic never quite got this idea through their heads, but many of the other characters in the series showed that your status at birth doesn't at all reflect on your worth as a person. Who wouldn't rather be a muggle-born and turn out like Hermione than be a pure blood and end up a Malfoy?

6. "Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open."

Considering the turmoil our world is in today, we would all probably benefit from taking a moment to think about Dumbledore's message to the different wizarding schools. We may look different, observe different customs, and speak different languages, but if we all work toward making a more peaceful world, we'll find that we have way more similarities than differences.

7. "There is no shame in what you are feeling, Harry. On the contrary ... the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength."

Stoicism doesn't really have a place in the Harry Potter universe. Harry tends to prefer yelling, breaking things, and seeking revenge when he's upset to bearing it all in silence. But as Dumbledore points out, acknowledging and expressing your pain is healthy, and reminds you that you aren't a magical sociopath like Voldemort.

8. "And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."

Anyone else like to say this to themselves before they go out for the night? No? Maybe that's just me. But I love this reminder to look for adventure wherever you are, and to chase it rather than wait around for it to come to you.

9. "Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love."

Facing the fear of death is a running theme in the series, and Dumbledore in particular really hammers in the point that there are things way worse than death. Here, he points out that those who really deserve our sympathy aren't the dead, but those like Voldemort who live a completely loveless and lonely life.

10. "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

One of my favorite lines in the entire series, this quote pretty much sums up a Harry Potter fan's relationship with the books. More importantly, however, it reminds us that we aren't forced to live only in the mundane "real world." Your inner world can be every bit as vibrant and important as the external one, and while you can't completely check out of reality (remember what he said about the Mirror of Erised?), there's no reason you can't take breaks from it every once in a while.

Images: WiffleGif (10), Warner Bros.