Always Pour Your Own Wine and 14 More Lessons We've Learned from Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is known for its most shocking moments – brutal massacres, gratuitous sex, horrific weddings, gut-wrenching tragedy (plus, literal gut-wrenching). But aside from shaking us to our core on a weekly basis, the HBO hit teaches us about what it means to be – and succeed as – a human being in a cruel, unforgiving world.
In anticipation of the season 5 premiere, we’ve gathered some tried-and-true tips from the Game of Thrones.
1. ‘The truth is always either terrible or boring,’ so prepare yourself emotionally.
Sansa Stark never fails to awe us with her wisdom (it helps that it’s always delivered so morosely that it sounds like it came from the mouth of a jaded 77-year-old). Then again, she’s a teen who’s seen it all – an abusive husband, sadistic in-laws, a beheaded father – which makes us trust her even more. Bottom line: The truth does not always set you free, so maybe opt for a white lie and prioritize other things, like survival or instilling fear in enemies.
2. Karma is real.
It’s one thing to be smug, and it’s one thing to be a jerk. But to be a smug jerk child? A smug jerk child king? If Joffrey’s story arc proves anything, it’s that you should at least put some effort into not alienating every single person you ever meet (besides your mother, who doesn’t care you’re a jerk, you jerk).
3. Drink some spirits to lift your spirits.
Alcohol is the gods’ gift to man. Hey, it could even make the “terrible or boring” truths of the world feel much more bearable. (Though avoid dependency at all costs. Plotting universe domination becomes impossible if you’re drunk all the time. Side eye, Tyrion.)
4. Important qualification: Always pour your own wine.
Time and time again, GoT has taught us that trusting people leads to disaster. Hold on to your chalices, y’all.
5. Lean in.
Arya Stark is a survivor, and that’s because she leans the hell in. (And remember, this was ages before Sheryl Sandberg.) Even the people who love you can’t protect you forever, which is why you must know who your enemies and make sure they fear you. While in the dysfunctional protectorship/kidnapping situation with the Hound, Anya preservers with strength and confidence until she eventually makes her brave-as-hell escape. (She could have very easily “leaned out,” curling up in the fetal position for the remainder of the franchise.)
6. Meaningful eye contact can wield more power than actual words.
Cersei may not have successfully navigated the complicated terrain of not having sex with family members, but she has totally mastered the evil eye – and she wields it with subtlety and grace, instilling fear in literally everyone except her awful son.
7. When people forget who you are, remind them.
If someone dares challenge Dany’s supreme authority, all she has to do is state her identity – “I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyeria” – for people to proceed with caution. (Repeat your identity as many times as needed until people respect you. If you don’t have a fancy title or prestigious blood, make something up.)
8. Keep your loved ones (and/or dragon babies) close.
More crucially, do not get in the way of a mother and her dragon babies. It will never, ever end well for you.
9. Being underestimated is not necessarily a bad thing
Hodor may have the intellectual capacity to say nothing more than the word “Hodor” repeatedly, but he’s also still alive – which is insane, considering how many life-threatening situations he’s Hodor-ed around in. Because he’s not viewed as a threat, he survives – and sometimes even saves the day.
10. Having said that, there is definitely a time and a place for threats.
When Dany’s slimy older brother Viserys slaps her, she fires back with the greatest threat of all-time (and confirms her role model status): “The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands.”
11. Entrances are everything.
The Game of Thrones world, just like the world world, is all about power – showing it, hiding it, faking it, abusing it. If you want respect, try to stand out – whether that means riding a horse into your next job interview or running your hands through a candle as you smugly enter a dinner party.
12. Change your wardrobe, change your life.
At the end of season 4, long-suffering Sansa finally broke free from her victim status after several seasons of anguish. How? By slipping on a goth chic outfit and push-up bra, of course.
13. Good friends are absolutely essential.
Especially in duel situations where you’re permitted to have someone fight in your stead.
14. Live in the moment.
Seriously, praise the gods that Jon Snow and Ygritte hooked up when they did. Because their window of opportunity was tiny, as tends to be the case when you’re at war with your lover’s people.
15. Because the night is dark and full of terrors.