In this time, which has been hard for many of us, I have turned to the one thing that always makes me feel better: Harry Potter. In its pages are examples of true friendship, love and courage. The characters are not perfect, but many of them are unshakably good. There is something to learn from every single character. And as Harry learns, so does the reader. Since the time I opened the first book at age ten, I have changed considerably. Yet, one thing that has not changed is my love of Harry Potter. Here are some of my favorite messages.

1. Believe in yourself.

Harry didn’t think he was going to save the wizarding world when he arrived at Hogwarts. He barely believed he was a wizard at all. But when he saw a chance to protect his friends, he knew he had to put his doubts aside and stand up. And even though it was hard, he kept doing it. He never gave up. In the end, he won.

2. Believe in others.

Here are some hypothetical situations. Perhaps someone is as big as a tree and seems gruff and unpolished. He could be one of the kindest people in the world. Maybe someone tries to tell you her theories about nargles and wears radish earrings. She could turn out to be one of the wisest people you’ll ever meet. Maybe someone else constantly loses his pet toad and can rarely make a spell work. He could turn out as a fierce warrior. Yet another person spends most of her time in the library and seems like a know-it-all at first. She could become your best friend and turn out to be incredibly fun. The point is, give people a chance. Get to know them. You might be surprised.

3. It’s cool to know the answer.

I would like to thank Hermione Granger for this one. When I was little, I loved school. I was always so excited to know the answer. As I got older, I sometimes got made fun of for raising my hand too often, or too enthusiastically. Now, I am a proud self-proclaimed nerd, and I owe a lot to the inspiration of Hermione. She knows what she’s doing and she wants the whole world to know it, too!

4. Read.

This is another Hermione thing. Books open our world so much and have been shown to create more understanding, intelligent and kind people. Knowledge truly is power and those who wield it for good are my heroes.

5. Be kind.

Throughout the series, kindness to everyone is always the best path. Regardless of who someone’s parents are, what they have been through, their gender, their wealth, or whether they are a house elf, they deserve to be shown dignity and respect. That is what Voldemort is against, and that is why Harry and his friends must stand up to him.

6. We have control of our choices.

“It is our choices, Harry, far more than our abilities, that make us what we truly are,” as Dumbledore says. In life, we may find ourselves in situations that seem unfair, upsetting and confusing. In these times, it is important to remember that we still have a choice in how we respond. We don’t have to become what we don’t want to become. Not that it’s always easy for me to remember, but Harry Potter does help.

7. Nothing is better than a good friend.

From that first day on the train, Harry and Ron are pretty much inseparable. Hermione becomes part of the group soon after. From the halls of Hogwarts, to Ron’s house, to their hideouts in forests before the final battle, they are there for each other. Hermione and Ron regularly save Harry, whether literally or emotionally. And Harry is there to defend and support his friends at any cost. Life would really have been miserable for any one of them without the other two.

8. Laugh.

Fred and George remind us that humor can cure almost any problem. Their jokes and pranks are never meant to hurt anyone and give many a dearly needed laugh. Even in a time when nothing seems funny, focusing on some things that are will often preserve one’s sanity. Laughter is a rebellion against those who want to put you down. It is a light shining through even the darkest day.

9. Magic is everywhere.

No, unfortunately, I do not mean the kind of magic taught at Hogwarts. I mean the magic that makes the leaves change color and that makes the sun shine. The magic in the smile of a neighbor or the hug of a friend. The magic of a good book or a good song. The magic that chose you to join the world.

10. Good will prevail.

Throughout history, there have been people who have done evil things. But what I have noticed is that there are always good people to oppose them. I have also noticed that the good people always win. It might not be right away, but it happens. The Civil Rights Movement eventually led to comprehensive legislation. Gandhi got his people independence. Hitler was defeated. After 9/11, Americans came together and helped one another.

May we always remember these important lessons and may we always be here for people who need us.