What Leslie Knope can teach us about life.


I have a crush on Leslie Knope.

I was secretly stoked when Ann Perkins left the Parks & Recreation picture, hoping I could step in as Leslie’s BFF and we could spend eternity binging on (vegan) waffles and making Li’l Sebastian scrapbooks. A girl can dream, right?

Why do I love Leslie so? I’ll delve into the litany of reasons why she’s my hero in a minute, but the #1 rationale for why I adore this fantastic fictional woman is this: she’s the definition of an optimist.

Leslie Knope puts Pollyanna to shame. She maintains her faith in humanity (and herself) through thick and thin. She’s like the anti-cynicism superhero, and in a world as pessimistic and fearful as ours, that’s EVERYTHING.


If I can bring even a smidgen of her sassy idealism into the world on a daily basis, I’m happy.

So in addition to her relentlessly positive attitude (despite only getting 3.5 hours of sleep a night), here’s what I’ve learned about life from Leslie Knope:

Doing stuff for other people is the ultimate high.
Leslie loves to give. Frankly, her giving abilities set frighteningly high standards for friends and loved ones looking to reciprocate. But that’s irrelevant, because she’s totally unconcerned with receiving. For Leslie, giving is its own reward. It’s pretty clear that she gets a mega endorphin rush from making other people happy — their joy is her joy. Isn’t that how we should all roll? From elaborate scavenger hunts for Ron to 90’s theme roller skating parties for Ben, she’s tirelessly thoughtful. And she keeps even giving when the recipients are ungrateful haters (I’m talking to you, Pawneeans).

Friends first.
As established above, Leslie would do ANYTHING for her friends. Seriously, anything. As she once so cleverly quipped, “Hoes before bros. Uteruses before duderuses. Ovaries before brovaries.” But it’s not all women>men. Despite her love for the ideals of feminism and her Sex in the City-esque posse (sorta), she’s also devoted to Ron, Tom, Chris, Andy and even Jamm. Remember when she went face-down in a drinking contest to save Ron from the Tammies? Research shows that the quantity/quality of a person’s friendships determine their happiness, but that’s easy to lose sight of with the  romantic relationships, families, etc. Leslie never does. In her words: “We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.”

People are imperfect and you should love them anyway.
Leslie has forgiven her friends and loved ones for some pretty crappy stunts, IE, when Tom tried to pin his accidental shooting of Ron on her, when Donna live-Tweeted some not-so-nice stuff about her, etc. Nobody’s perfect, and Leslie understands it. She forgives, forgets, and loves with all her heart.

Love what you do.
Leslie loves government work, and she loves Pawnee. She’s been dedicated to both since she first pitched a more progressive tax on residential properties in her 1985 campaign ad. And despite setbacks, thankless constituents and having to deal with disrespectful dudes like Jeremy Jamm, she still loves her gig. It’s what she was born to do, and she’s never lost sight of her passionate idealism. Everyone should love their 9 to 5 like Leslie loves the Parks & Rec department.

Enthusiasm is everything.
Leslie is super enthusiastic about the stuff she loves. And she’s not afraid to show it.  Her bubbly love for Harry Potter, made-up holidays and Joe Biden is infectious — even to people who avoid enthusiasm of any kind (ahem Ron Swanson). On that note, here’s a list of things she’s “pro”.

Never stay down for long.
Sure, she spirals into sadness when her hopes and dreams are crushed, occasionally self-medicating and abandoning personal hygiene. But it’s always short-lived. She’s quickly back at it, fighting to make the world a Knopier place. Optimism is in her sugar-spiked blood.

Be yourself.
Above all else, Leslie is always her quirky, dedicated, hyperrific self. There’s no image-crafting for this public servant — just the awesome, unvarnished oddball she is. The one or two times she’s tried to put on a show for the sake of her career, she couldn’t do it. In the end, she’s not afraid to reveal herself publicly, foibles and all. It takes guts to be truly you, and Leslie Knope’s got ’em.

Heap praise on the people you love.
Ok, so most of Leslie’s eager compliments are directed towards Ann and Ben, but she’s generous with expressing her emotions nonetheless. From KnopeCompliments.com: “Ann, you cunning, pliable, chestnut-haired sunfish.” Or, to Ben, at their wedding, in what’s maybe the best compliment ever: “I love you and I like you.”

Oh, and one final reason why I love Leslie Knope:
How fantastic is Amy Poehler? I mean, I’m not normally one for hero worship, but if I met her, I *might* do a Wayne & Garth-style “We’re not worthy!” She’s the champion of smart girls and silliness; she’s endearing and hilarious; she’s besties with Michelle Obama and does a mean Pit Bull impression; she’s humble and down to earth and she’s cool with standing on wooden boxes. Basically, she’s all kinds of amazing. And her foundation’s motto is, “Change The World By Being Yourself! which is literally the best thing I’ve ever heard.

I adore you Leslie Knope. Never change.



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