Parks and Rec: Subconsciously Teaching Life Lessons

By Gino Diguilio

Since I was four years old, I have been submerged in the educational system. Yes, I started preschool a year early because I lacked social skills, but let’s not talk about that. Sixteen years later and nothing has changed there! In all of those years of schooling, I’ve learned a lot. Unfortunately, the majority of the information learned has not been necessarily useful in the real world. So, allow me to rephrase my earlier comment.

In all of those years of schooling, I learned a lot of “stuff.” To be completely honest, everything I have learned about life, or at least the important and useful concepts, I have learned from watching “Parks and Recreation,” such as there is nothing in life that can’t be made better by the power of breakfast foods.

Yes, the show wasn’t the most popular series on the television at the time it aired. Yes, it did get off to a rocky start. Yes, it definitely wasn’t the type of show people were expecting to see coming from a large network. However, ratings aren’t everything. I would like to give thanks to the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department for teaching me life lessons in a hilarious and loving way, regardless if they meant to or not.

After re-watching the series from beginning to end for the sixth time — don’t you dare judge me — I have constructed a list of my top five most treasured lessons taken away from the series.

My list begins with a banger: breakfast, the most important meal of the day. In fact, why restrict yourself to only having breakfast once a day? Breakfast is fine for whatever time of the day. Break the standards!

Second, I learned to “treat yo’ self.” This was definitely the easiest life lesson to take in and accept. It is necessary to living a balanced life. Taking one day a year and treating yourself to whatever you want recharges the body and relaxes you. We all could use a day of pampering so that we don’t do something we regret to a co-worker or peer in the days coming! Do it. Stop asking questions. Stop. I said stop. Treat yo’ self.

Next, I learned that leading your own life is the only way to live. Everyone has things they enjoy doing and vice versa. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Some people like things like exercising, or eating healthy or weird stuff like that … Ann Perkins says it perfectly in the show, “I know it keeps you healthy, but God, at what cost?” I agree. I get you. I feel you.

Toward the middle of the series I realized that I shouldn’t be overthinking things. Now I’m not saying that the show taught me to be careless, but it did teach me to stop, think and be done with it. In fact, one of my favorite quotes of the series is soon going to be my new life motto. “I seriously cannot emphasize how little we thought about this.” Simple. Elegant. Deep.

And lastly, the biggest lesson I learned about life whilst embarking on yet another journey into the Pawnee, Indiana Parks and Recreation Department is that we have to remember what is important in our lives. Everyone has priorities and you need to prioritize them quickly. For Leslie Knope, it is, “Friends, waffles and work; or waffles, friends and work. But work has to come third.”

And with that, I would like to encourage everyone to use these short snippets of lessons in your own lives. I promise, they’ve helped me more than you can imagine.

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