Theodore Roosevelt

Five Life Lessons Americans Can Learn from the Incredible Life of Teddy Roosevelt

If you could resurrect a President from the past, whom would you pick? My choice – and I assume it would be the choice of millions of Americans as well – would be Teddy Roosevelt.

A great President and an even better human being, Teddy Roosevelt was a man’s man who led by example and inspired others to achieve greatness. He donned many hats – statesman, writer, explorer, adventurer, naturalist, athlete, and soldier. Only a handful of people in US political history managed to achieve what Teddy Roosevelt achieved in 60 years.

Given below are five lessons every American can learn from the incredible life of Teddy ‘TR’ Roosevelt.

Be Strong

A strong man doing a pullup

Teddy was the very embodiment of physical and mental strength. His transformation from a sickly child suffering from a debilitating condition of asthma to a strapping young athlete is the stuff of legends.

When Teddy was a child, he used to bedridden for days on end due to his health problems. Noting his son’s condition, Teddy’s father said:

‘Theodore, you have the mind, but you have not the body. And without the help of the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should’.

On hearing this, Teddy responded without a second’s hesitation.

‘I will make my own body’.

From that moment on, Teddy was hell-bent on becoming stronger. He hiked, rowed, climbed mountains, lifted weights, and boxed to turn himself into a powerhouse. Later on, he also trained in wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu and continued to practice martial arts even after he became the President.

The lesson to be learned here is that a strong mind can only reside in a strong body. If you are physically weak, you might find it difficult to achieve your goals, no matter how strong-willed you are.

Cultivate the Habit of Reading

A man reading in isolation

Despite being a certified badass, Teddy was not some ‘all brawn and no brains’ kind of brute. He was an avid bibliophile as well. He read everything – from short stories to novels, poetry, plays, memoirs, and more.

Teddy was a speed reader, which allowed him to read two to three books daily. He is said to have read thousands of books, many of which were on his favorite subjects – politics and history.

Given below is a very brief list of Teddy Roosevelt’s reading list, which should give you an idea of the depth and range of his intellect.

  • The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
  • Politics by Aristotle
  • The Histories by Polybius
  • Chronicles by Froissart
  • Alexander the Great by Benjamin Ide Wheeler
  • The History and Decline of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  • Frederick the Great by Thomas Carlyle
  • Abraham Lincoln – A History by Hay and Nicolay
  • Inferno by Dante
  • The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy
  • Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
  • The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Ways of Nature by John Burroughs
  • Shakespeare’s Plays
  • Robert Browning’s Poems
  • Lord Alfred Tennyson’s Poems

TR’s quest for learning new things, broadening the mind, and drawing inspiration from historic figures is something that every American can emulate.

Lead a Strenuous Life

The Strenuous Life book cover

Life is strife. This was the axiom that Teddy Roosevelt lived by. He famously stated that he wanted to preach the doctrine of the strenuous life, as opposed to the doctrine of ignoble ease.

TR genuinely believed that a life of ease was not a worthy goal to pursue. Instead, he wanted men to pursue the goal of strenuous life and toil hard so that they could become better sons, better husbands, and better fathers. He wanted men to work hard so that they could provide for and protect their families.

More importantly, TR believed that a healthy state can exist only when the citizens lead clean and vigorous lives. He believed that children should be taught from a young age to work hard, overcome difficulties, and take responsibilities.

We live at a time when students are given participation trophies, parents believe that their children should be shielded from criticism, and the media believes that people’s feelings matter more than God-given rights and liberties.

If Teddy were to see America in its current state, he would be furious with us, to say the least. If there is one lesson that we absolutely must learn from Teddy’s life, it is that great things happen to those who toil hard.

Filial Piety and Faith

The Christian cross
Crucifix cross at sunset background, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Teddy Roosevelt had the greatest of respect, gratitude, and love for his parents. He noted in his autobiography that his father was ‘the best man he ever knew’. His letters to his mother are full of love, gratitude, and child-like enthusiasm.

TR was a man of faith too. When his father died, TR noted in his journal that he was able to survive the tragedy of his father’s death only through his faith in Jesus Christ. TR believed in the values of righteousness and morality and led an honorable life.

The virtues of filial piety and faith are badly needed in today’s America, which in many failed cities that smell like urine in America there’s a shortage of God.

Perseverance

Rocky perseverance to run up the stairs
[Image via ROCKY]
One of the most remarkable aspects of Teddy Roosevelt as a person is that he was not ‘gifted’ in any way. He was not a natural athlete. He had to work tremendously hard to become one. He was not a first-class shot, yet he hunted every kind of game there is to hunt. He was not a great boxer, but everyone who boxed him said that he was a heck of an opponent who wouldn’t go down no matter what.

The reason is that Teddy learned at a very young age that not everyone is gifted with unusual talents. On the other hand, anyone can become good at what they do if they persevered hard enough. This is the one quality that separated TR from most of his peers.

TR persevered, practiced, and toiled harder than anyone else, as a result of which he became good at many things.

This is a quality that Americans need to emulate, especially those who believe that they are entitled to things purely based on their skin color, ethnicity, or gender (all 63 of them).

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