Hands down one of the best television sitcom characters, Ronald Ulysses Swanson is everyone's favorite "Parks and Recreation" hero. His simple love for meat, the outdoors, capitalism, and pretty brunettes alongside his deadpan personality is what some of us find most charming about this Pawnee citizen. Despite his efforts to do as little productive work as possible for the government, the Director of the Parks and Rec department was known for some of his heartfelt advice he would occasionally dish throughout the series' seven seasons.
This majestic show may have reached its finale on television, but it will carry on eternally in our hearts. It is great to know that Nick Offerman, the actor who played Swanson on screen, also upholds many of the same values that are so closely related to his character. His real life success as a husband, actor, author, comedian, and carpenter is a true testament to his advice on the show. The following are a few lessons taken from Ron that we can all benefit from implementing in our own lives.
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1. Always Carry Yourself With Integrity
One thing Ron absolutely hates is lying. But one thing he absolutely loves is hard work and integrity. In Season 6, style icon Annabelle Porter and her popular magazine Bloosh want to take Swanson's chairs and mass produce them for the whole world to have access to. As his chairs are specially handmade in his woodshop, Ron refuses. With Tom's clothing rental business failing, he didn't understand why Ron would turn down the chance to make more money.
Ron's response: "I didn't sell my chairs to that website because I value my name. The only thing that's important at the end of the day is what's on your gravestone - Your name."
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2. Make Sacrifices And Do What You Can For Those You Love
Ron was accustomed to living his life a certain way for the first couple of seasons: eating everything except fruits and vegetables, drinking as much as he wants, and being alone. But when he gets sick, he realizes that he is not on his own anymore. Ann tells him he has to eat more potassium and keep healthy as he has a family to look after now. Looking at a photo of Diane and the girls, he forces himself to eat a banana. Of course, he ends up slipping the banana in a burger so he can eat it. Baby steps Ron, baby steps.
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3. Be Tough
When Pawnee's beloved mini-horse L'il Sebastian passes away, Ron reflects through crippling tears: "I've only cried twice in my life. Once when I was seven and was hit by a school bus, and again today when I found out Li'l Sebastian had passed."
Ron's masculine personality has him pushing all his co-workers to be blunt and assertive whenever they need to be. He helps Ann ask Chris to be the father of her baby, and admires when Tom cuts his goofy pal Jean Ralphio from their business partnership. Life is tough, but you go be tough right back at it.
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4. Always Be Yourself. Because Being Anything Else Will Look Awful.
One of the funniest things about Ron in the series is his interactions with his past two horrible ex-wives, Tammy 1 and Tammy 2. He married Tammy 2 again (his real-life wife, by the way!) as a result of the aftermath of an altercation at a bar, her seducing him with sex, and drunken adventures during the night that landed them in prison.
The power Tammy 2 had over him in earlier seasons is quite disturbing as she managed to get our Ron Swanson, who had the same haircut for years, to sport cornrows. Oh god, the hilarious horror. His manipulative past wives changing him is the exact opposite of a healthy relationship. Moral of the story: avoid crazy exes like the plague, but more importantly, always be yourself.
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5. Pour Your Hard Work And Passion Into Something You Care For
When Leslie overworks herself between her job at the Parks department and her campaign for city council, her usually-quality work starts to slip between the cracks. Ron urges her to take a sabbatical from the Parks department to focus on her campaign, but Leslie, being the Energizer Bunny of work, refuses. Eventually Ron hits her with this excellent line: "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
There is no point is stressing yourself out by doing too many things at once if you can't handle them. Overwhelming yourself produces less quality work, and what's the point of doing the work at all if it sucks?
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6. Eat Well
Ron is the king of eating. He once said "When I eat, it is the food that is scared." He is a breakfast food enthusiast, a professional at hiding bacon everywhere possible in the office, a lover of a good steak kept rare, and well known for eating a party-size platter all by himself. We all have a lot of eating to do to catch up to this champ.
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7. Celebrate Romantic Love Whenever You Can
Ron never let his past failed marriages stop him from eventually finding love with Diane Lewis, a middle-school vice principal. In the final season during Donna's wedding, Tom tells Ron he can see himself one day marrying Lucy, his rekindled girlfriend of a few weeks. Ron shares Tom's sentiment with Lucy, which makes things awkward between her and Tom. He was just trying to spread the love.
Seeing them being stiff with each other, Ron apologizes for getting involved and gives them the only truth that matters: “There’s no shame in declaring how you feel to a person you cherish.”
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8. Hold On To Your Inner Child As You Age
Though Ron is the tough guy of the show, his silly moments make him just as adorable as he is strong. Just like Andy does throughout this show, Ron shows us, with a high-pitched giggle, that it is important to enjoy the little things that make us smile. No matter how childish they may seem to others.
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9. Chasing Fame And Praise Is A Waste Of Ambition
There are going to be people who are unappreciative of you and your work, that is a guarantee in life. But how you choose to deal with it going forward determines your character: are you going to let the opinions of others dictate your life or are you going to keep doing the work you love to do?
When Leslie is frustrated with Pawnee's citizens not being thankful for all that she does for them, Ron is blunt with her: "You chose a thankless job, you can’t be upset when nobody thanks you. Don't start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness".
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10. Stay Hydrated
Ron loves his alcohol. He orders a drink for Ben at a bar once, assuring him his choice of clear alcohol is for rich women on diets. I'm not saying to drink a bottle a day, but a glass once in a while never hurt anybody. Some red wines are reported to have good health benefits, after all.
Stay hydrated: drink lots and lots of WATER on the regular.
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11. Enjoy Nature. Take Pleasure In The Peace and Quiet.
Owning many cabins in the woods, Ron is a clear enthusiast of Mother Nature. Fishing, hunting, camping, and any quiet time with the beauty of the natural around him made Ron the happiest he ever was.
Daily routines of work and school can be dull and stressful, you deserve a break to get away and let go.
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12. Having People Know How Tough You Are Can Work To Your Advantage
Ron is easily one of the most respected person in the office. He is honest, goodhearted, and assertive in his leadership ways as the Director. He also is great at messing with his team. In Season 3 at the start of April and Andy's wedding episode, Ron fakes having a tooth ache in a meeting so he can pretend to yank out a tooth that was already pulled out by a dentist the day before. Most of the Parks staff cursed and fled, while Tom fainted beside Ron.
Ron's explanation for his prank? "It's always a good idea to demonstrate to your co-workers that you are capable of withstanding a tremendous amount of pain. Plus, it's always fun to see Tom faint."
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13. Sometimes, Actions Can Show You Care More Than Words
Ron is clearly not a man who enjoys talking or doing things he doesn't want to do. But in a Season 5 episode, when he meets Diane and her girls for the first time, bringing Andy along, her daughters are playing as princesses, Andy plays along with them by joining their tea party and letting them put makeup on him. The three of them beg Ron to join them, who eventually gives in.
Ron Swanson with a makeover by two young girls? Could anything be sweeter? You don't need to be a person of many words, as Ron shows time and time again that actions show you care too.