Eleven Great Lessons From Terry Pratchett

On 12th March 2015, this world bid farewell to fantasy author Terry Pratchett.

Writers explore the human condition every day. If they want to be successful, they have to touch people in the most sensitive parts of their souls. The really good ones teach people great lessons that stick with them forever. They use their stories to help readers better understand the world they live in.

Terry Pratchett was as wise and wonderful as any.

“Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom. No one ever learns anything if they get everything right first time round. The people who think they have nothing left to learn are the ones who will get left behind as the world turns around them. In order to truly have advice to give or a story to tell, you have to get something wrong first.

“Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to.” – Your views are your own, but your actions affect everyone around you. Let your beliefs be personal and your behaviour be for everybody.

“It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.” – Adversity is not always a bad thing. In fact, the things that it is most important to change are the things that are going to be the most difficult. When things are tough, remember that all worthwhile things have to be.

“Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” – There’s no point pretending you know everything. You get found out eventually, and you’ll never learn anything if you don’t admit you need to. People prefer honesty every single time.

“There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.” – If something is worth fighting for, keep on fighting and never stop. Know what you want and know why you want it and stick with those convictions for as long as it takes to make something beautiful.


“The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.” – Being too certain of a world as inexplicable and incredible as ours is dangerous. Never presume you know. Always suppose that you have come to the best conclusions you can based on the experiences you have had. And nothing else. If someone else’s world view is different, think about why. Think about what they’ve learned that you haven’t that your thoughts contrast so. Explore everything and always ask questions. The things you find out will never stop astounding you.


“Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.” – If a person is just a means to an end to you, then that person has more important things to worry about. Likewise, if you someone treats you that way, then you’re wasting your time on them.


“It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.” – Too many people dismiss critical thinking for no other reason than that they prefer the world to have a bit of mystery. And a bit of mystery is nice. But ignoring the truth of the world is pain. And there is enough wonder out there that you can spend your whole life learning about the universe and never know a thing about 98% of it. Things don’t stop being amazing just because you’ve looked closely at them. In fact, most of the time, they get better. This world is mind-blowing and you’re missing out if you ignore so much as a second of it.


“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.” – Don’t shy away from getting involved in other people’s narratives if they want you there and you want to be there. But make sure that you make decisions because you want to. Make the most of the short, short time you have to write your story exactly the way you want to.


“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.” – Even once you’re gone, the impact you leave on the people around you remains. You’ll be remembered for the way you treated people, the way you behaved towards the people you loved and the people you didn’t, the things you stood for and the things that mattered to you. Your effect on the world could be forgotten in half an hour, or it could last forever. Think about what you want people to say about you once you’re gone, and be that person today.


“When in doubt, choose to live.” – No matter what you believe in, all anyone can say they know for sure is that you have this life. Make it exciting and amazing and brilliant and good. Put your everything into it. Love it.



Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.