There is no doubt that the real star of Parks and Recreation is Ron Swanson; a man of few words but a fountain of wisdom. The head of the department, Ron is a mustached libertarian with an extremely deadpan and masculine personality. Whilst he despises the public and he has some extreme views, he is also a man of honor who loves nothing more than meat, breakfast foods, whiskey, and woodworking. This ensures he dishes out some spectacular life advice, both funny and poignant, and there are certainly a few things that we can all learn from Ron Swanson.
In celebration of Nick Offerman’s 49th birthday, join us as we highlight 10 fantastic pieces of advice from the one and only Ron Swanson. Cheers!
10. “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.”
A man after our own heart, Ron Swanson understands the importance of breakfast food and the healing properties that it has. Although he and Leslie do not see eye to eye on most matters, they share a special understanding of breakfast food. Ron delivers this nugget of gold after Anne and Chris leave Pawnee, which leaves Leslie devastated. J.J.’s diner appears to be the place to visit with their world-famous waffles, but Ron’s favorite is The Four Horse-Meals of the Egg-Pork-alypse. This consists of a 12-egg scramble, sausage, ham, bacon, chicken-fried steak, hash browns and a giant tower of buttermilk pancakes. So the next time that you are feeling blue for whatever reason, either head out to your favorite breakfast place or cook up all the eggs and bacon you can get your hands on and you may be pleasantly surprised at how this can lift your mood.
9. “There are three acceptable haircuts: high and tight, crew cut, buzz cut.”
Although Ron Swanson may not strike you like the most fashion-sensitive individual, there is no doubt that he knows what he is talking about when it comes to hair, and this is largely down to his spectacular mustache. He also believes that, for men, there are only three acceptable types of haircut. This is part of his fantastic “Swanson Pyramid of Greatness” (based on John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”), which contains all kinds of gems. Also on this pyramid is advice on facial hair: “Full, thick and square. Nothing sculpted. If you have to sculpt it, that probably means you can’t grow it.” And he also shares his opinion on body grooming on the pyramid: “Only women shave below the neck.” It is clear that Ron would certainly not approve of many men’s approach to their hair in today’s day and age.
8. “Son, there is no wrong way to consume alcohol.”
Another one of Ron’s loves is alcohol, particularly whiskey (he believes that clear alcohols are for “rich women on diets”). He always seems to know when the right time for a drink is, and he always keeps some under his desk for these moments. Although he makes a very good point with this quote during a bachelor party, his point is soon challenged by Tom when he takes them to a new experimental bar in town where you inhale your drinks. Ron also has some hangover advice for when you’ve had a bit too much: “Never been hungover. After I’ve had too much whiskey, I cook myself a large flank steak, pan-friend, and salted butter. I eat that, put on a pair of wet socks, and go to sleep.” We cannot confirm if this works, but as it is Ron Swanson, we’re pretty sure they are wise words.
7. “There are three ways to motivate people: Money, fear, and hunger.”
Although Ron is not a fan of working and doing his job as the head of the department, he certainly knows how to get the job done when he needs to. He believes that money, fear, and hunger are the best way to motivate individuals, and if you take a step back and look at the world, then you will see that this is worryingly true. This theory is put to the test when he and Chris clash over management styles, where Ron berates Jerry and takes food away from him whilst telling him to file a box of folders. Chris, meanwhile, uses positivity to motivate Jerry. In the end, the result is inconclusive as Jerry filed more of Ron’s folders but there were more mistakes due to his anxiety. In the end, it is April who came out on top after outsmarting everyone.
6. “Friends: One to three is sufficient.”
Ron Swanson is not the most social of creatures, and he will often go the extra mile to avoid dealing with the public or talking to people (April proves to be the perfect assistant due to her apathy). He is not one to talk of friendship or his feelings, but it is clear that he cares for Leslie, April, Andy, and Tom. Although it is, of course, great to have many friends, he also raises an interesting point in having quality friends over quantity, which is something that many people realize as they get older. If you ever find that you have too many friends or people are getting too friendly with you, Ron has some golden advice for this scenario too: “When people get too chummy with me, I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care about them.”
5. “If any of you need anything at all…too bad. Deal with your problems yourselves like adults.”
As already established, Ron does not like to be a leader despite the fact that he is head of the department. This is partly due to the fact that he despises the government and does not like doing any work, but it also comes down to the fact that he is a big believer in people doing things on their own and not asking for help. This is evident with this quote and the entire episode, which sees Leslie and Ron both initially run away from their problems. They both return to the Parks department to tackle their problems head-on, which, for Ron, is facing his ex-wife, Tammy. Of course, it is important and encouraged to ask for help when you need it, but there is also something to be said for handling a problem yourself if you are capable, and this is the Ron Swanson way.
4. “Give a man a fish and feed him for the day. Don’t teach a man to fish…and you feed yourself. He’s a grown man. And fishing’s not that hard.”
It at first appeared that Ron was going to dish out the famous advice about teaching a man how to fish, but instead, we get this brilliant quote which perfectly encapsulates his approach to life and being self-sustainable. He is a big advocate of people being capable of doing things for themselves in all aspects of life, as in his words “people who buy things are suckers.” He lives in a cabin in the woods and is also a keen huntsman, and this ability to survive by yourself is very important to him. This is the polar opposite of Tom, and the two share many hilarious scenes where their lifestyles clash heavily. However, Ron is also able to (somewhat) help Tom and he clearly sees something in him. Despite this quote, Ron states that he only fishes for sport as “fish meat is practically a vegetable.”
3. “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
Although most of the time Ron’s life tips are comical and not to be taken too seriously, he has also come out with some very poignant pieces of life advice and these are always reserved for Leslie. Although they clash over many areas, he has a tremendous amount of respect for Leslie and she looks up to him. This gem comes at a time where Leslie is attempting to take on too much by working on her campaign for city council whilst still working at the Parks Department, and this uncharacteristically sees her forget Jerry’s birthday. She initially refuses to take a leave of absence, but Ron convinces her with this excellent piece of advice that it is better to put all of your efforts into one area than to spread yourself too thin. This is something that many people would benefit from understanding.
2. “You know what makes a good person good? When a good person does something bad, they own up to it. They try to learn something from it and move on.”
Another insightful and powerful message from Ron Swanson, this is also reserved for Leslie in a time where she feels that she is a bad person. After failing to disclose hers and Ben’s relationship and bribing a maintenance worker to keep it a secret, Leslie fears that her job is at stake and desperately tries to find a loophole. Ron encourages her to admit her guilt and face the charges, which she does. Ron reassures her that she is a good person with this fantastic quote, which is certainly true as good people will sometimes do bad things, but it is how they respond to this that defines them. Although Parks and Rec is one of the funniest shows in recent times, it can also be touching and dish out great life advice and these most often come from these scenes between good friends Ron and Leslie.
1. “Honor: If you need it defined, you don’t have it.”
At the very top of Ron’s brilliant “Swanson Pyramid of Greatness,” you will find this, which perfectly encapsulates the man himself. Simple, honest and honorable, Ron Swanson is the character that most look up to in the show and he guides many of them to become better versions of themselves. This is particularly true for Leslie, Andy, and Tom, who he helps frequently throughout the show and is somewhat of a father figure to them. This makes him one of the most important characters on the show, but he is one of the funniest too, with his outlook on life and his approach to social interaction, eating, drinking, hunting and, of course, hair. Above all else, he is about honor though, and he makes it clear here that those that have it clearly understand what it is and the importance of it.