I’m a hardcore Animal Crossing fan. I’ve played every iteration of Animal Crossing since I was introduced to the series sometime around 2005.
I have a special place in my heart for Animal Crossing because, when my husband and I first started dating, we used to play together. We’d visit each other’s towns and help each other shake trees for fruit or go fishing together. I remember that fondly, and Animal Crossing brings all the warm fuzzies.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) is the first one I played with the rest of the world, though, because I never had online friends to play with or trade with. Instead of trading fruit with IRL friends, I’d diligently send letters with fruit to my NPC neighbors, hoping they’d send some other kind of fruit back to me. With a lot of patience, I always ended up with the complete collection.
When ACNH was released in 2020, it was exactly what everyone needed at the beginning of a global pandemic. I played hard, clocking hundreds of hours in that first year, not including the time I spent searching for custom designs. Eventually, my interest waned, and I stopped playing except to check in on my villagers every now and then, making sure no one moved out.
The big update that released mid-March 2021 got me back in, and I excitedly tried out all the fun new features. I also built a memorial on my island for my father, who passed unexpectedly less than 2 weeks after the update.
Since then, I’ve been checking in on the game every few weeks or so. Every time I sign in, I stop by the memorial for my father and wish one of the in-game emotions you can express could be a bow or prayer.
Every time I visit, I think about trying to get the island back in order since I was in the middle of renovations when I stopped playing. But no matter how long I’ve been away, I’m always compelled to pause when one of my villagers saying something particularly poignant.
Here are some of my favorite life lessons from my neighbors (all screenshots taken by me).
Everyone benefits from a boost
This is at the top because it’s my favorite. In high school, I struggled with what I now know was PMDD (and probably depression). Looking back, I think the best thing someone could have told me at the time was exactly what Whitney says here: “Sometimes spirits need raising. There’s no shame in that.” Basically, It’s ok to be sad sometimes. If I could talk to my younger self, this is probably what I would tell her, and it’s what I tell my friends when they’re struggling.
Friends are the best medicine
I can’t tell you how many times I was feeling down in the dumps, but when I saw a dear friend — even when I thought I didn’t want to — my mood dramatically and unexpectedly improved. This only works if you have a genuine connection with the friend, but Whitney’s reminder that friends can be “truly magical” is totally accurate.
Haste makes waste
How many times do we hear advice to slow down? Slowing down is beneficial not just for your work or productivity, but also for your health and wellness. We need time to rest and recharge. Sometimes rushing seems like the best or only option when we’re crunched on time, but if time is tight, that means we don’t have time for mistakes. It’s also really easy to get swept up in the momentum, so I make a conscious effort to slow down.
Whether you’re working on a big project or just making your way through life, I agree with Octavian that taking your time is the best option.
Don’t forget to do nothing
I’ve learned over the last few years that stillness has a lot of value, but that’s hard to remember when we have expectations to be productive all the time, both at work and in our personal lives. Whitney reminds us to do nothing sometimes, and it’s great advice. Hustle culture and toxic productivity has been more prevalent since the pandemic began, but rest has a lot of value.
Take care of your body
At first I thought it was ironic that Octavian is eating a lollipop while doling out advice about taking care of your body, but now I know that taking care of yourself means moderation and not depriving yourself.
You are fantastic
Many of us get told that we can’t do something or aren’t good enough. How many of us get told that we’re fantastic? Not enough of us, I’d say. Not to worry! Your Animal Crossing neighbors will tell you how wonderful you are all day long.
We get better each day
When I first started writing as a young person, I was always worried about being original and writing original material. Everyone always said that my voice is unique in itself, but that lesson didn’t really sink in until I got older. Marina reminds that we’re learning and growing each day, and hopefully, we’re learning to lean more into our truest selves. She doesn’t say so, but by doing so, we live our best lives.
The value of having what we need
Octavian provided the perfect reminder to be grateful for what I have and focus less on what I don’t have.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Following the rules with certain things is critical: good form when exercising, traffic laws, and the like. I have a tendency to want things a certain way, but lately I’ve been learning to be more flexible.
Hamlet reminds us to be flexible when you can and you might discover something great.
Do want you want and let others do the same
I have a theory that if we all did what we wanted and let others do what they wanted (as long as no one was getting hurt), the world would be a better place. I enjoyed seeing this reminder from Octavian to live life how we want and not worry about what other people are doing. I interpreted it as a lesson to accept other people and ourselves as we each want to live.
I wanted to highlight these quotes for those who skip the dialogue or don’t have these personalities on their islands.
From accepting myself and others to finding value in stillness, these lessons are simplified versions of important lessons I’ve learned over the years. Animal Crossing has always been a light-hearted game for everyone, but if you pay attention, you might learn a thing or two.