Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from… ‘Parks and Recreation’



Parks and Recreation is one of the happiest office television shows I know of. Every single character is unique. While some characters show us what not to do (i.e. Councilman Jamm with his corrupt government ways), most of them provide a great example of how to be a good person. I believe in simple life lessons. Parks and Recreation is simple. The plot isn’t complicated. The character development isn’t twisted and confusing. Its simplicity allows for very clear lessons to shine through. Below are some of the things I’ve learned through the seasons with the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Staff.

Dream big

Lesley is the definition of being ambitious. She is always thinking about how she can better serve Pawnee. Every step up the government ladder puts her closer to her dreams of being the first woman President of the United States. And Lesley’s not the only dreamer. Tom is relentless in going after what he wants. He wanted to be a self-sufficient entrepreneur. Tom’s not quite to the self-sufficient part but he did start Entertainment 720 and Rent-A-Swag. The cool thing about the show is that you get to see them achieve their goals, instead of just talking about it. It’s inspiring.

Treat yo self

Tom and Donna designated one day a year to go all out and treat themselves. Food, trinkets, scarves—do you want it? The answer is yes! I’m not advocating for the exuberance of over-spending on material goods. Spoiling yourself periodically though is healthy. It’s important to remember that our own happiness matters. It doesn’t have to be a shopping spree, maybe you treat yourself to a new book or a day off of work. Imagine the possibilities.


Eat what you want

Lesley loves waffles. Ron loves meat. Ben loves calzones and everyone loves Paunch Burger. And you know what? They eat those things whenever they want. Pawnee knows a thing or two about obesity since it’s ranked fourth in obesity, but everything in moderation. If waffles make you happy, eat some waffles. Depriving yourself of simple happiness like a favorite treat in the name of being skinny is not worth it. Be healthy and happy.

Compliment those around you

“Good memory, sunfish.” “Ann, you’re beautiful and you’re organized.” Lesley has the best compliments ever. People love compliments. It’s nice to recognize the good qualities in others. Everyone needs an ego boost once in a while. Plus, smiles are contagious. Think about how good you’d feel knowing you made someone’s day. It doesn’t have to be fancy and colorful like Lesley complimenting Ann.


Basically, Parks and Recreation tells me every episode to be myself unapologetically. It’s also about having big dreams, being a good friend and loving yourself. What better life lessons can you ask for? To start off, I suggest treating yourself to watching Parks and Recreation if you don’t already. The optimism is beautiful.

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