Life Lessons From Mr. Rogers: 10 Inspiring Messages You Need To Hear

Mr. Rogers life lessons
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood… for life lessons from Mr. Rogers (Source: Wikipedia)

Those of us who grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood know Fred Rogers’ smile by heart. He was a comforting presence in a confusing world, and he liked us just the way we were.

Join us as we head back to the neighborhood for some inspiring life lessons from Mr. Rogers himself.

1. Anger is totally healthy.

“Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness.”

A lot of people have an idea in their heads of Mr. Rogers being sugary sweet, but that doesn’t mean he avoided serious subjects. In fact, Mr. Rogers talked a lot about the challenges we face as humans — particularly about getting mad.

“It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets,” he explained.

“It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.”

2. It’s good to go the extra mile.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

My husband and I have a running joke about something he said to me once when I was super stressed (and maybe crying) about all my obligations. He told me, “You want to suffer? Help someone.”

It sort of goes back to that whole thing about no good deed going unpunished, and he was only being half serious. But what he said can feel all too legit to those of us who regularly try to go above and beyond.

Here’s the thing: Going out of your way to help someone can cause you a lot of stress and grief. Do it anyway. The world needs more of these little acts of kindness.

Just remember to take good care of yourself along the way. As Mr. Rogers advised, “Taking care is one way to show your love. Another way is letting people take good care of you when you need it.”

3. It’s okay to cry.

“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

Life isn’t a picnic for anyone, and we all face our fair share of heartbreak. Unfortunately, showing genuine emotion seems to be discouraged in our world.

But as Mr. Rogers so wisely said, “There’s no ‘should’ or ‘should not’ when it comes to having feelings. They’re part of who we are, and their origins are beyond our control. When we can believe that, we may find it easier to make constructive choices about what to do with those feelings.”

4. Kindness is contagious.

“Sometimes all it takes is one kind word to nourish another person. Think of the ripple effect that can be created when we nourish someone. One kind empathetic word has a wonderful way of turning into many.”

Kindness is certainly not weakness.

In fact, it’s one of the strongest forces out there. Whether it’s a smile, a helping hand, a compliment, or a simple, “Hello,” showing others your softer side is a surprisingly powerful thing — and it’s one of the best life lessons from Mr. Rogers.

5. Do the best you can.

“Little by little, we human beings are confronted with situations that give us more and more clues that we are not perfect. ”

If you’re beating yourself over a misstep in some area of your life, let Mr. Rogers give you a much-needed pep talk:

“Some days, doing ‘the best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect on any front — and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.”

6. We’re all similar.

“How sad it is that we give up on people who are just like us.”

In today’s intense political climate, you may have trouble believing that you have anything in common with your neighbor. But Mr. Rogers had a different viewpoint.

Seeing the best in other people can sometimes be a challenge, and Mr. Rogers suggested that we go about it through listening.

As he so eloquently put it, “Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors.”

7. There are more good people than bad.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

If you watch the nightly news, things look pretty bleak, don’t they?

It’s easy to lose sight of all the good in the world because of all the bad that seems to take center stage. Just keep looking for the helpers. And if you can’t find one, be one.

8. Happiness is the key to success.

“The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.”

You know what they say: Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

I think it’s so important for each of us to get in touch with our passions and our dreams. Life’s awfully short, and time’s far too precious to wish it away hoping for the weekend. It’s yet another one of those life lessons from Mr. Rogers that can really change your everyday happiness.

9. We’re in this thing together.

“There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” 

One of my favorite life lessons from Mr. Rogers is more of a story I suppose, but it always makes me cry. In a good way, of course:

“There was a story going around about the Special Olympics. For the hundred-yard dash, there were nine contestants, all of them so-called physically or mentally disabled. All nine of them assembled at the starting line and, at the sound of the gun, they took off.

But one little boy didn’t get very far. He stumbled and fell and hurt his knee and began to cry. The other eight children heard the boy crying. They slowed down, turned around, and ran back to him — every one of them ran back to him.

The little boy got up, and he and the rest of the runners linked their arms together and joyfully walked to the finish line. They all finished the race at the same time. And when they did, everyone in the stadium stood up and clapped and whistled and cheered for a long, long time.

And you know why? Because deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.”

10. You’re amazing just the way you are.

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

A lot of the life lessons from Mr. Rogers centered on each of us being our authentic selves, and he made sure we knew that we’re wonderful as-is.

“You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There’s never been anyone exactly like you before, and there never will be again. Only you. And people can like you exactly as you are.”

A Final Thought From Mr. Rogers

In 1999, Fred Rogers was honored by the Television Hall of Fame for his inspirational career.

Here’s the speech he gave that day:

“Who in your life has been such a servant to you? Who has helped you love the good that grows within you? Let’s just take ten seconds to think of some of those people who have loved us and wanted what was best for us in life, those who have encouraged us to become who we are tonight — just ten seconds of silence.”

“No matter where they are, either here or in heaven, imagine how pleased those people must be to know that you thought of them right now.”

Thank you, Mr. Rogers. Thank you for everything.

What are your favorite life lessons from Mr. Rogers? Share them with us in the comments!

Lesley Sheridan is a high-maintenance fashion, beauty and lifestyle writer who thinks she’s low-maintenance. (Yes, she stole that line from When Harry Met Sally.) In addition to writing for The Local Lifestyle, her work regularly appears on Zenni Optical and Slickdeals. Make her day by sending her a tweet.

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