10 things I learned from Breaking Bad

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I have finally finished watching all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad and besides the Door Painting story which really touched me, I found that the show taught me a few life lessons as well.

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1. Life changes people

I think this is true for all of us… we start down a path and very soon we find out that the challenges that we overcome, the trials that we are put through, they increase our awareness of the world and the way we respond to it. It’s normal personal growth and it’s very possible that it will change you for the better or for the worse.

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2. It’s important to have a goal in life

I think Jesse Pinkman acts like a cautionary tale as much as Walter White does. Jesse is drifting away, he does not have something he wants to work towards to and very soon he is plumetting. He is using, spending money like it has no value – mainly because to him it doesn’t. He does not have anything he wants to do, anywhere he wants to be. It is quite sad to see – him blowing like a leaf in the wind, not appreciating what he’s got. Mr. White is the opposite – at every stage he has a goal – to raise money to pay for his cancer treatment, to leave money behind for his kids, to eliminate danger, to build an empire, to rule and then revenge.
Everything he does is carefully thought of and nothing is ever left to chance.

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3. Careful planning might not always yield the expected results

There is a lot that life can throw at you and even the most careful planning can backfire. It’s best to take it easy and relax a little.

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4. Being hardcore and doing everything with no half measures

I know it sounds a bit cheesy but I really liked Mike’s character. Ex-cop that does not kid around, does not hesitates and has a very strong sense of purpose and justice (I would say a good head on his shoulders). He tells a story about how he got fired from the Police force after shooting a scumbag of a wife-beater who kills his wife in a domestic abuse case. He regrets giving the guy a chance after a beating – and the guy did not get the message and returned to finish off the job.
The moral of the story is – if you strongly believe that something needs to be done about a situation, then do it. Do not leave a potential dangerous situation to bubble up and destroy you.

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5. Substance abuse in any form is lethal

I am not a drinker nor a smoker and I know the dangers of drugs. And after watching the show and seeing meth-heads full of body-sores, with rotten teeth, selling everything they have to get another shot (be it their body or stolen goods), I knew that keeping off any form of substances was a good deal for me. If you have an addictive personality disorder, one can lead to many and many can lead to more and more can lead to premature death.

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Crystal Meth Abuse timeline

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6. Skyler wasn’t a bitch, she was just a woman

I have seen loads of comments saying that Skyler White is a bitch, always ruining Walter’s game. All I saw was a woman going through all the phases of love and concern when her husband got cancer, mistrust and jealousy when he sported another phone, hate and coldness when he would not give it up. She cheats on him when they were technically separated which is fine. She needed moral support and a loving embrace of someone else who was not toying with her or her trust.
She did not cheat on Walter because he got cancer….
She also becomes a good business partner and even though people disagree about her asking him to send the car back that he bought for his son, I agree with the measure. If you are laying on a pile of cash, you don’t start spending it. It will raise some questions as to where and how you got the money and if the state catches a whiff of what you have done, they will hunt you down for taxes.

Only two things are eternal, death and taxes.

What I didn’t agree with was her spending 600+k to pay off her former boss for money laundering. She should have told her husband what the plan was and ask for a second opinion. It was not her money, it was Walt’s.
Her depression is also understandable as she feels trapped in a situation with no visible exit. Once you are in, you either dance the polka or you die.

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7. Always cover your tracks

If you are doing something illicit, do not leave loose ends. People talk and usually the things that keeps them quiet (ie. fear, money) will not work anymore. There is no honor among thieves.
It sounds rough but it’s the same in daily life. I once lied about where I spent my day to cover up a trip to a place I did not want other people to know about. I have researched my lie, documented it and presented it with as few details as possible. If you over-explain something people will catch on that you are lying.
I got away with it quite nicely (even though I did get asked about minor details from my fake trip).

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8. Have a friend or two you can trust fully

It’s a very lonely existence without any friends. Have at least one friend you can rely on when things are tough, that shares your interests, that loves you (no homo) as you are.

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9. Business and pleasure don’t mix successfully.

Also, never do business with family

Imagine how different Walter’s story would have been if he was single. Or if his wife left him after killing Fring. He would have been a multi-millionaire bad-ass drug-lord. But no, he loved being married, even with a woman he didn’t love and who did not love him back. If he was completely un-attached to his wife, brother-in-law or his kids, he would have had a vastly different life.
Plus – his brother-in-law turned on him so quickly his hair fell down (just kidding, he was bald). Walt helped him out, paid his medical bills, was there for him – but he did not want to let his brother-in-law’s career be the better of him.
Walter put him over his business relations, saved him from assassination, called it in when Fring went after him. How did he repay him? He punched him and then started building a case to get him.

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10. Be happy with what you’ve got

Ambition is a good thing – it can drive you forward to new heights. But you need to know when to stop before you start loosing bits of your self – your humanity, your love, your desire to help. Soon, you’ll be walking over dead bodies and counting your millions. Walter should have stopped when Pinkman told him to. He had recovered his money, his car wash business was doing ok, he could have lived a comfortable life. They would have been happy.
Instead, he drove on, he tried to get more – and he did. At a large cost.

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