Five Life Lessons I Learned From Watching The Walking Dead


Zombies, man . . . they're everywhere these days, and nowhere is that more true than on AMC's The Walking Dead.  So many seasons in, and it still delivers shocks, thrills, gore and even a few laughs.  I don't think anyone would argue with any of that.

But life lessons?

I say yes, absolutely! I am of the school of thought that you can learn anything from anywhere and here's proof of that with just five of the biggest life lessons I've picked up from watching this gory, action packed festival of horrors (and not to mention that sexy-ass Darryl!). 

Life Lesson #1:  Listening to your parents isn't always the best or right thing to do....

If I had a nickel for every time Rick or his wife Lori told their son Carl to stay in the house, I'd be rich right now.  But oddly enough, Carl is also the only child to have actually grown up rather than suffer a terrible, gruesome death.  Maybe Carl understood that his parents didn't always know everything?

Now this idea isn't new, remember when Will Smith brought to this light in the 90's?  Parents just don't understand, and that's a simple fact of life.  They don't understand kids, and that fact doesn't change just because zombies are eating people's faces and what have you.  "Why can't you just stay in the house, where it's safe?" we desperately ask our kids.  "It's so obvious!"  But Rick and Lori were just acting out of fear (which any good parent would), and Carl was having none of it.  

And while we parents would want to keep our kids safe every moment of the day if we could (especially in a zombie apocalypse), his generation has figured something out that the adults STILL haven't six seasons later: there are no safe zones.  And while we love to think that our houses are the safe zones in real life, are they really?  Anything can happy at any time, anywhere, but we've trained our brains to believe that outside = DANGER!  Which is sort of true--as WAY less people get hit by cars while being inside of their houses.  So there's that!  😉

Kids see life differently than us: they see the world without the boundaries that we as adults have acquired through living so many years of our lives.  Some of those boundaries we have to pass along "Of course you have to wear pants when guests come over!"  But most of them are born out of fear.  Though...isn't fear the primal feeling that we use to keep ourselves alive?  I am sticking to that sentiment, thank you very much.

And I don't care if I am wrong, I'd still make Carl stay in the damn house.  "Get in the house CARL!" 

Life Lesson #2: The government (or anyone else) can't always protect you....

I will start by saying I am not a Libertarian.  I am not a survivalist.  I am not anti-government.  I just have some common sense. 

At first, everyone on TWD thought the government was coming to swoop in and save them all.  But then SURPRISE!  The government had fallen.  Oops!

We saw this in real life when hurricane Katrina came in and ripped apart the lives of those in Louisiana.  Those people, who sat and waited for the government to come and save them, instead were all shoved into the big Superdome to await rescue (all the while many were robbed, raped, and starved). 

The point is: I trust my government, but only so much.  If something HUGE happened, we cannot expect that they will even have the ability to swoop in and save us all.  Because of that, I would like to be able to know how to take care of myself and my family without leaving us open to being robbed, raped, and starved.  It's just common sense.  I am not saying go and build a fortress around your house, but at least having survival packs ready to go when needed maybe is a good idea.  Something is better than nothing.

And in the meantime, I've got my bats and my HUGE crowbar ready to go chop some zombie brains if need be.  But hopefully they'll just stay in my corner, unused, and never needed.

Though, there is one exception to this entire thing:  


We could count on him to swoop in and save us all.  *swoon*


Life Lesson #3: Listen to your own personal Dale...

Do you remember Dale?  He was a cool character from season one who dressed like a modern day Gilligan, owned a broken down RV and served as the group's collective moral conscience.  When Shane wanted to shoot a man without first giving him a trial for a crime which was allegedly committed, Dale asked Rick not to allow this to happen -- he warned, quite rightly, that if they allowed the group to go down this path, they would lose sight of who they were.  As later seasons showed, his prediction certainly did come to pass: the group's humanity was and continues to be compromised.

When you give in to doing only what you think is right in life without taking anyone else's desires and concerns into consideration, you create your own Ricktatorship.  The longer you pursue that line of thinking, the harder it is to remember how to be otherwise.  It's important to seek out the Dale in your life: the person who will guide you to stay on the right path.  These people are rare.  Keep them close and cherish them.

What if you don't have someone like Dale in your life and there's a big decision coming up?  Imagine the ideal king -- just, strong, compassionate and above all else, impartial.  What would they say about the situation in which you've found yourself?  This is a great way to stay grounded when there's a lot on the line and something absolutely has to be done.

And in that case, go get yourself a Dale-style fisherman's hat for yourself.  They've been proven to increase rational thinking by 300%  😀

Life Lesson #4: There is no universal meaning to life....

The meaning of life, in The Walking Dead's world, is that there is no meaning -- or, more precisely, no external meaning.  There's no objective meaning to life that everyone and everything has to bend to fit into, like "love conquers all" or "courage will save the day" or "we are put here to worship".  Instead, as the characters started to discover throughout season six, the meaning of life is inherently different for every living person.

For Glenn and Maggie, it's about surviving one more day for love.  For Rick, it's about protecting the ones we care about.  For Darryl, it's being at one with nature and helping his friends.  You could go on down the line, and for each character, you will find that each person carries their own meaning to life.

And each character faces dire perils (while you and I also face dire perils, at least we aren't getting eaten by zombies!), and if they survive.  And the next day they are stronger, wiser, and wear their battle scars for the world to see.  They grow and change and while for some it makes them more angry and for some, it drives them over the edge (can we say Shane and the Governor??), for most it makes them better.  Better people, better fighters, and better friends.  They know what's at stake, and there's nothing like watching a zombie chomping down on your friend to make you realize what's important in life. 

How does this apply to the real world?  The better question is how doesn't it?  You can't control what the world throws at you on a daily basis, but you can control how you roll with the punches, and how you react is all determined by your own personal interpretation of what life's all about.  

What we don't realize however is just how much control we really have over not only the meaning of life, but our experience of life in general.  We might internalize events one way, and then when we change how we react to what happens in life, it affects how we see things next time which in turn tweaks how we will react in the future.  In time, we can train ourselves to see the world in a more positive way, especially when we remember our bottom line (which is our own personal meaning of life).  When we find that bottom line (for our life's meaning, which is family, friends, nature, etc.), we can respond to life's ups and down in accordance with it.  Say your meaning is your family.  And in times of real need, your bottom line feeding your family.  You want to make sure food is always on the table.  So, every choice you make in life will be so that there is always food on the table for your family.  Money troubles?  As long as your family is fed, then you're still doing good. 

Each of us can find our own meaning in life, and in turn, find our bottom line, just as everyone on TWD does.  Rick's bottom line is keeping his people alive.  Hershel's bottom line was making sure his children stayed alive.  Abraham's bottom line was keeping Eugene safe. 

So, what's your bottom line?  Figure out what your own personal life meaning is, and then create a boundary by which you will always make your life choice's from (the very least you will accept).   This creates a set-point (you can read more about set-points in the badass book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms by Mindvalley's creator Vishen Lakhiani) (<----badass affiliate link) which says what you will not go below.  If you do, then you will realize that change is needed in order to get you back to that set-point (or above it). 

Having your own life meaning, rather than a generalized one that fits all human beings, is how we find happiness.  For some, that life meaning is having children.  For others, it's having a good career.  And other, it's working with animals.  There are as many life meanings out there as there are people.  Once you know what yours is, then find your bottom line, and go from there.  In TWD, their bottom lines are blatant.  Make sure yours is just as much so, and you'll find it easier to make decisions in life and you'll find yourself happier every single day.  Like the example I give above, at the end of the day you can say "At least we have food on the table, and that's all that matters".  *cue happy heart*

And besides, as long as there's no zombies, I think we all can find a way to handle the things life throws at us.  Just always keep that in mind when something happens: "At least there's no zombies!"  And it will help keep things in perspective for you 😄

Life Lesson #5: Revenge isn't always worth it...

In case you haven't noticed, almost every single time the characters on TWD have gotten revenge, it has pretty much always come back to bite them in the ass. 

I think this reoccurring theme is trying to tell us something, something that obviously the characters on the show haven't learned yet: getting revenge makes you no better than your bully.  And also indicates to your bully that "the game is on" and you are fair game for more bullying.

Yeah, yeah, I know, pouring that cup of soda on that girl's car while she was at work and then squishing up cinnamon twists to sprinkle on top may have felt good at the time (no, I never did that...never!  not me....😇), but the next day when a police officer is at your school asking about the vandalism done to that girl's car and everyone knows you did it, well, it doesn't feel so good now, does it?  (yeah, that was in gym class senior year, btw)

We do stupid things a children, sure.  But what happens when we're still doing these things as adults?  Most likely, we had bad role models (I know I did!).  Because while adults want to pretend they are all adulty, most of us are just big kids wrapped in more expensive clothing (or, if you're like me, less expensive used clothing).  We didn't learn better coping skills as children, so we grow up doing the same stuff we did back then.  And revenge is one of those things.

Though I will say that sometimes people need to learn their lesson--bullies who continuously harass us or hurt us may be in need of a life lesson of their own.  Now, the adult version of this would be do something legal.  Because who wants to be in jail for a bully?  Get a restraining order on them.  Take them to court over the money they owe you.  Things like that.  Find out what they are doing that qualifies as being illegal (consult your local legal aid lawyer--damn, that's a lot of L's) and get them to leave you alone that way.  If that doesn't work, then ignore them (sometimes the best revenge is never speaking to them again) or moving far way (haha, like that's a real option for everyone, but for some, it can be...I had a friend who moved away because their landlord was insane).

But the all time best revenge to serve on someone who's hurt you?

Become a better person.  

Get into shape (if that's your thing).  Go to college in order get a higher paying job.  Start your own business.  Create a non-profit.  Or simply: just be happy.  Finding happiness without said bully is the #1 way to get the best revenge.  Showing them you don't care about them anymore by going off and having a life without them?  That's the true way to win as an adult.

Rick could really use that piece of advice.  Maybe I should be his life coach?? 

"Alright, Rick, fill out these worksheets."
"But I don't have a pen......and there's a zombie behind you I have to kill."
"C'mon, dude!  If really want your enemies to feel the burn of your revenge, you need to work out your issues."
"Right now my only issue is trying to stay alive." *stabs zombie with crowbar*
"See?  That's a start.  Now, what about your bottom line?  How would do you make sure that every single day you're meeting it?"
He looks around at all the dead zombies and spreads out his arms in a circular fashion. 
"Oh, I see.  Yeah.  You're killin' it!  Um, literally even." *picks up foot off a dead zombie arm*
"Okay, I found a pen, what do you want to me write?"
"That's the spirit!"

If only Rick and his gang of wacky followers would just do some introspection and some soul searching, they may be able to fight their foes with integrity, rather than guns and other killing implements.

Well, except the zombies.  They have to kill those guys.  But they don't count.  Zombies aren't even real.  Duh.  


So there you have it -- five real life lessons from The Walking Dead.  Who says you can't have gut munching zombie action and not anything of substance to think about at the same time?

Well, as it turns out a whole lot of people.  But now you can tell them they're all wrong, because there's actually a lot of thought provoking content on the show.  There has to be -- if it was literally just different angles of exploding zombies, it wouldn't have lasted seven seasons to date . . . maybe two or three, max.

Thanks for reading and enjoy watching more episodes of The Walking Dead!

And here's to hoping they never kill off Darryl!!  *swoon*

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