Since everyone dies on Game of Thrones and Game of Thrones is based heavily on real life, we decided we should learn something from the characters and attempt to avoid their grisly fates. And yes, we recognize that we’re not going to get hacked to death by vengeful swords or poisoned at our wedding. We’re talking more about the lessons hiding below the surface. Stuff that you might not recognize is bad until you’ve seen children get murdered for the exact same behavior. Watching Game of Thrones as a cautionary tale changes some of the scenes for us, and we have to say, we learned a lot about how to better enjoy, and extend, our lives. Here are 12 life lessons from Game of Thrones.
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Keep Your Dog on a Regular Feeding Schedule
The whole point of pet ownership falls apart if all you do is neglect your canine companion. This is a creature that depends on you for food and shelter and offers you companionship and protection. Plus, especially domesticated, dogs are creatures of habit and will act out in increasingly significant ways if their routines are disrupted. You only have yourself to blame if you establish 6 o’clock as feeding time, then ignore them for a week because you’re too forgetful, busy, or, worse, straight up abusing them. If, at 7:30 you come home to a living room that looks more like Germany in 1945, that’s all on you, man.
It’s also easy to forget that while domestication might be written into DNA, dogs are more than willing to switch back to wild animal mode. And in wild animal mode, your body looks like a decent sized meal.
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Talk Shit, Get Hit
If you’re going to be running your mouth like an impudent little shit, you’re going to have to deal with some physical consequences. Eventually you’ll push the wrong buttons and someone will haul off and punch you and it’ll be because you didn’t know when to shut your stupid mouth. What’s more, you’re not going to have anyone on your side when it happens. Run it long and annoying enough and you getting a good jab to the teeth is going to be met with open celebration. People have been waiting a long time to see you get some comeuppance, so when it finally comes around, expect the guy who does it to score instant points with the crowd.
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Make Friends with the Weird Guy
Everyone has someone at work or school or in the family who’s a little weirder than the rest of the group. We’re not talking high level weirdness here either, so don’t think we’re telling you to make friends with the guy who routinely names raindrops as they hit his face or cooks on the underside of pans. The level of weird we’re talking is working theater metaphors into everything he says or only buys one type of pants but a whole bunch of pairs at the same time. Those are off-putting things to do, but not so off-putting that we can’t get to know the guy behind them.
If you put the time in to get to know the guy, chances are you only stand to benefit. In our own personal, anecdotal experience, we’ve made friends with the maintenance staff of assorted work places and where other people try and avoid being around them while also waiting weeks for their work orders to be filled, we have engaging conversations with them and never wait longer than a few hours.
And rereading that last paragraph, we realize we’re making this sound like you should get to know people who can get things done for you. We’re not. We’re saying this is how human decency works. If you can make someone feel a little more welcome, that kind of positive energy can only make your workplace more pleasant. Don’t go out to a bar looking for an electrician because your house’s wiring needs some work. Make friends with an electrician because he’s human person and needs friends and then also maybe can help you with the wiring when the time comes and if he wants to.
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If You’re Going to Do Something, Stop Talking About It and Do It
We all have that one friend who’s spent more time talking about their life goals than actually accomplishing anything. They might have been working on the same manuscript or screenplay for years or have a home renovation they never get around to or they’ve been stuck in the same job for ten years and talk about quitting all the time. And to be fair to them, we’ve all been that person at one point or another, with aspirations that spend more time in the planning stages than actual execution. Whatever it is, everyone can agree that anything after a handful of conversations gets exhausting.
Don’t get us wrong, we get the hesitation to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. You might trip and fail, which is like being rejected by your own talents and hurts far more than any sort of external rejection. But if you spend too long talking about stuff, your friends are going to get more and more annoyed until they eventually lash out and do something drastic.
So if you want to start a screenplay, take a class and fire up Celtx. If you’re planning a home reno, call up that contractor and start planning demo day. If you’ve spent the whole night talking about how badly you want to fight the guy at the end of the bar, you’d best start it, because you won’t like it if word reaches him and he gets the jump on you.
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You Cannot Take the Toughest Guy at the Party and He Will Come Looking for You if You Try
A lot of things instill false confidence and being surrounded by your friends is probably the easiest one. Their mere presence goads you into doing things you wouldn’t have done if you were in a different group or by yourself. One thing that’s bolstered as often as not is someone’s belief in their personal fighting abilities. In large groups, especially those whose ratio heavily favors men, people think they can fight anything, including, but not limited to people their size, teenagers, small dogs, medium-sized horses, female UFC fighters, male UFC fighters, brick and mortar walls, and the guy at the party who’s clearly the unholy spawn of Brock Lesnar and an ent.
Stick with that last one, because there’s an important difference between you and him. Both of you have the same level of confidence, but his was earned. He’s fought a dozen people like you, probably that same day. If you start something, he’ll finish it. If you start something and he doesn’t get to finish it, you’ve now turned what was a fun little get together into a full on manhunt. You’ve not only guaranteed you’ll get your ass handed to you in six separate chunks, but you ruined everyone else’s good time.
By the way, those friends who gave you all that confidence aren’t going to back you up. Hell, they’ll be the ones to sell you out. They all knew the guy was part mountain troll, which is why as soon as the fight started, they all remembered they came to the party with other people or had a midnight dentist appointment or that there was a deck outside they wanted to check out.
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Sibling Rivalries are Usually Only Fun for One of You
Antagonizing a brother or sister is a time-honored tradition and a dynamic that’s built into the relationship. You don’t get to be siblings if you’re not messing with each other at least a little. Some razzing here and there is healthy, helps build character, and prepares you all for impending, more mean spirited bullying. Plus it can end up making you even closer to your siblings years down the road.
But sometimes it gets out of hand and one of you ends up being the one who’s obviously far better at antagonism, creating an imbalance in the relationship and fostering actual ill will. This is the situation we’d recommend you avoid. The only possible outcome is a huge wedge being driven between siblings, where one thinks everything is in good fun (or worse, is knowingly bullying the other) and the other allows animosity to fester below the surface before finally exploding on the other.
Your siblings are the family members you should be closest to, so turning one of them into an enemy automatically makes them more dangerous than some random nemesis. You’ve inadvertently created someone who knows exactly how to destroy your very essence. At that point, your only chance at survival is being adopted by another family and trying to build relationships that need you intact as much as your sibling wants you obliterated.
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Keep Your Sense of Entitlement in Check (Better Yet, Don’t Have One)
Entitlement might be the least attractive personality trait. You’re immediately an exhausting person to deal with, make it easy to dismiss a specific age group, and generally ruin everyone’s good time. Maybe the worst part is, of the people we’ve seen flagrantly brandishing their entitlement, most are completely oblivious to their greatest fault. These aren’t people who think to look inward when things go wrong. Entitlement has taught them they are the greatest thing to happen to their immediate vicinity and everyone within that vicinity owes them a great debt of gratitude.
They’re wrong, obviously, because no one is owed anything. Everyone should have to work for what they have and none of us should be expect anything at birth. And if we should, then the expected thing should begin and end with a healthy family life. Every baby is entitled to loving parents and some of them don’t even get that, so no, graduating high school isn’t a large enough accomplishment to justify a new BMW.
There’s so much disdain for the entitled that retribution is pretty much guaranteed. You don’t get to go through life demanding unreasonable things from everyone and get off without some punishment. That punishment might not come right away, or even within your lifetime, but your victims are patient and are going to hold a healthy grudge, so know that it’s coming and it’s going to incorporate some irony.
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Make Sure You’re the One Who Knows Yourself Best
A common and increasingly annoying trope in storytelling is the classic line of “I know you better than you know yourself.” There are variations, but that’s the general gist, whether it’s in a villain’s monologue, a best friend’s “heartrending” soliloquy, or a parent’s gentle lecture. At this point it’s a shortcut to familiarity and we’re not ones to approve of shortcuts in storytelling.
The most obvious solution is to not let it be right. There’s a lot of strength in having a solid sense of self knowledge. You won’t bend to peer pressure quickly, and if you do, it’s not a sign of weakness. Few things can be used to insult you, because you’ve already come to terms with them, if you’re not already totally comfortable with whatever shortcomings you may have. Things will also generally go your way, because while a lot of people talk about how much time they’ve spent alone “getting to know themselves on a deeper level,” not many people understand the claim they’re making. Introspection is a modern fad rather than a genuine philosophical pursuit, so there are a lot of people walking around out there with glass cannons for self esteem.
That’s why this scene wouldn’t have worked with anyone but Tyrion and Jon Snow. Tyrion’s had years to come to terms with his short stature and while it’s still a raw nerve for him, an insult rarely causes him to act rashly. If anything, someone dropping one of the same six insults clarifies his motivation and allows him to act more rationally. Jon Snow using the same process creates a leader and swordsman of the highest quality. Also, props to Tyrion for not using the classic “know you better than you” line. There are assumptions he can make about Jon and be right, but he also recognizes he doesn’t know him on a personal level. That says just as much about Tyrion as it does about Jon.
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Clarify Exactly What It Is You’re Buying or Selling
One of the easiest ways to get burned on a transaction is to not properly communicate what you’re looking for. History is littered with big groups of people getting screwed out of ancestral lands, crucial resources, food, shelter, economic opportunity, life, and a dozen other things because one side went in with the full intention to be complete dicks. Shrink those down to everyday human sizes and regular people are constantly getting shafted by corporations and governments, mostly because they didn’t fully understand what they were signing.
The easiest practical application of this lesson is somehow buddying up to an attorney. Whether that’s marrying one, putting one of your kids through law school, or just trolling some upscale happy hours for some legalese speakers, you need to get close to someone who actually understand what’s happening in all those contracts. If you’re about to buy a house but not the land underneath it, that’s something you need to know. If you’re trading a brick of solid gold for an authentic Shelby Cobra, make sure you’re not about to get what Hot Wheels authentically built as a Cobra. If you’re selling an army of slaves and getting a legendary fire breathing lizard, you need to speak lizard to make that work.
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Grudges Don’t Mean You Can’t Still Be Decent
Holding a grudge, whether it’s personal, for a family member, a group decision, or otherwise, isn’t a completely unhealthy practice. If you have a grudge against someone, a reasonable grudge that is, it’s a protective measure. You’ve probably been put through some sort of suffering by them, so you’re putting up guards against that sort of thing happening again. Totally cool.
What that doesn’t mean is you’re permitted to be an unforgivable dick to that person. Everyone’s still a person and should be afforded a base level of respect. Don’t go out of your way to sabotage that person’s life. If anything, and if you can stand it, you should try to make their life somewhat easier. A grudge against someone doesn’t mean you can’t help them in their time of need, whether that’s a ride home after a night out, some light tech support, a bit of home maintenance, or some small favor.
Chances are, if you do anything like that for the person, that will become the avenue for healing whatever damage there is in the relationship. The initial personal offense could end up creating one of the better friendships you’ll build, all because you rose above instead of being a petty jackass. Bigger things that your perceived slight have been forgiven, so there’s no reason you can’t try too.
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Don’t Try and Force Your Friends to Be Friends with Your Other Friends (NSFW)
It’s completely normal to have separate groups of friends you hang out with. Most people have a wide variety of interests and it’s extraordinarily rare that you’d find someone whose interests totally overlap with yours. Naturally, you have to find different people to hang out with depending on what you want to do. If you like UFC, you’re probably not going to go to a match with your League of Legends clan. You go with your friends who like UFC.
But, because we’re all fallible humans who also enjoy efficiency, sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking the two groups would mix well. Maybe your League of Legends clan would like to watch some UFC and the group you go camping with would find multiplayer gaming quite enjoyable. Inevitably, once you mix them, you’ll see how wrong you were. Sure, some people genuinely enjoy themselves and make an easy, one time conversion to the other group, but ultimately, you’re stretched too thin trying to entertain two groups of friends with you as their only real common ground.
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If You Have a Part in Any Type of Service, Practice Beforehand
We can’t think of any major life stages or accomplishments that aren’t accompanied by some kind of service. You can generally expect weddings, birthdays, bachelor and bachelorette parties, funerals, divorces, adoptions, and housewarmings to have some kind of ceremony attached to them, and those are all just the ones we can think of. For everyone’s sake, if you’re part of the ceremony, put a little time into your part, whatever it is. If you’re someone’s best man, at least have some index cards with you. If you ever find yourself lucky enough to be carrying the Olympic torch, jog a bit in the month leading up. If you’re eulogizing someone, it’s totally fine to cry during it, just make sure you’re crying during a rehearsed speech.
There’s nothing wrong with improvising bits of something, but there’s everything wrong with completely winging it. Most ceremonies require cohesion and flow to maintain their desired atmosphere and nothing kills the mood quicker than someone who obviously wasn’t prepared for their job. Suddenly, the wedding becomes about how the best man hasn’t had a complete thought in his life and everyone at the funeral can’t stop thinking that maybe this priest hasn’t actually read the Bible.