Life Lessons I Learned from Super Mario

life lessonsWhen my son decided to get the vintage video game Super Mario All-Stars for the Nintendo Wii, I have to confess – I was pretty excited! It was in the same format as the one they made for the Super Nintendo back in the mid-90’s featuring Mario 1, 2, 3, and the Lost Levels.

I can’t tell you how many hours upon hours I used to spend as a kid playing each one of these games level by level.  Even as an grown-up they are still just as much fun to play.

But also seeing this game again for the first time after so long through my adult eyes, I came to the realization of how much it was a metaphor for things you actually encounter in the real world. I had never noticed how much the Super Mario games prepared me with lessons for my adult life. Don’t think so? Let’s consider the following:

Life Lessons You Can Learn from Super Mario:


life lessons

1. Regular dudes can do extraordinary things.  Super Mario was a Man’s Man. I mean just look at the dude! Mario was a plumber – A red-blooded, blue-collar worker who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He wore a mustache and overalls. He didn’t need some fancy college degree. Mario didn’t need permission to go all over Mushroom kingdom trying to rescue the princess. He was a regular guy with a job to do and he just did it.

life lessons

2. The game is always easier with your bro. Luigi was always there to battle with Super Mario no matter which one of the games you played. And in life everything is always a little better when you’ve got someone there to help you along.

life lessons

3. You might just win faster if you’re willing to look around hard enough. Sweet! Is that a secret warp zone? There were so many hidden gems through this game if you were willing to spend the time exploring and taking chances. In real life this works the same way. You can go the long way through level after level. Or if you’re clever enough, you can “warp” your way to success and riches. All it takes is a little ambition.

life lessons

4. Coins help you stay in the game. The journey through Mushroom kingdom wasn’t cheap. One of the easiest ways to pickup free lives and stay in the game was to collect 100 coins. Although in real life it’s not quite as simple as reaching 100 coins, you still need a whole lot of coins to keep playing the game the way you want to.

life lessons

5. Powering up made the game easier. Super Mario sure did kick butt when he had Fire power or Star power. When he was just regular, small Mario, it was pretty easy to die. In life, we become more powerful the more we develop our own special “powers” and “abilities” to help us through our “levels”. Does anyone else know someone they work with that has “invincibility” power? I bet you do.

life lessons

6. Not all opponents are the same. Sometimes it was easy for Super Mario to just squash some of his enemies. Others (like the spike-covered turtle) were a little more complex and required special powers. In life, your “opponents” are just the same. Some of them are easy to defeat. Some require more specialized skills. And some are better just avoiding all-together by jumping over them and moving on.

life lessons

7. Even the boss has a weakness. Is your “boss” a giant fire-breathing reptile? Even if he is, he still has a weakness and can be defeated. You’ve just got to try different things until something works.

life lessons

8. The farther you make it, the harder things get. Is it no surprise that Level 8 was way harder than Level 1? But what’s funny is that when you’re a kid, you don’t see that coming in life. You think things will be so much easier when you’re an adult (when you’ve got a job, car, cash, etc). But that’s just not true. Things get so much, much more complicated.

life lessons

9. When you fail, you try and try again. What happened when a Koopa touched you or you fell down a hole? Did you cry when you died? Throw your controller across the room? Well … maybe a few times. But after all that, you always tried again. Life really is like that. When you fail, you don’t pack the game up and never play it again. You get back on the horse and try again.

life lessons

10. When you win, you should celebrate. At the end of every level, there was a flagpole to slide down and a short victory song just waiting for Super Mario. Depending on your score you sometimes even got fireworks! When you do something good, you should recognize your accomplishment; even if it is a brief celebration.

life lessons

11. You’ll do anything for your princess. No matter how many versions of Super Mario they came out with, the story was always the same – the princess was captured and it was up to Mario to rescue her. And every time, Mario would go looking for her. In our own ways, our spouses will need us time and time again to rescue them from the same-old problems. But like Super Mario, we’ll rise to each one of these calls with the same unquestioning and heroic chivalry.

I hope you got a laugh out of this. Did anyone else have a favorite video game as a kid? As an adult, do you realize that there were some life lessons to be learned?


Related Posts:

1) What Results Are You Getting From Learning?

2) What Did You Learn From Working as a Teenager?

3) The Value of What You Know


    • MMD says

      There’s a lot of times I wish I could go back to “Level 1” and just be a kid again. Man, I didn’t realize how easy I had it back then!

  1. says

    This is great. I haven’t compared much to video games but I did compare personal finance to a fish tank for a guest post I did at so over debt. It is amazing the similarities you can find if you just stop and think for a minute or two.
    Lance@MoneyLife&More recently posted..Pay Yourself FirstMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Awesome! I’ll have to check out your guest post. Metaphors are great because sometimes you can draw a perspective that wouldn’t normally have realized.

    • MMD says

      Same here! I could have spent all my childhood playing Mario, Mega Man, and Street Fighter. It probably was a good thing our parents didn’t let us :)

    • MMD says

      I’m not sure why the creators at Nintendo chose a plumber. I never questioned it as a kid, but it makes you scratch your head as an adult. I couldn’t imagine going into a meeting saying “hey I’ve got a great idea for a game where a plumber runs all around mushroom kingdom …” But regardless, he is blue collar and he is the MAN!

  2. says

    haha, loved this post MMD. Growing up in the 80s I was a big fan of the mario games. You’ve made a lot of good points of how it all relates. I would’ve never really considered any of this. It’s awesome how some plumber could dream big and take on the world.
    Modest Money recently posted..Getting Social on Social MediaMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Seeing all those screen shots really does take you back, doesn’t it? The 80’s were an interesting time! I’m glad you enjoyed this!

  3. says

    LOVED THIS POST! I used to play Mario on the original Nintendo then on Super Nintendo then on Wii. I will always have a soft spot for Mario games. Mario Kart, Galaxy, Super Smash, anything…

    You’re right about these lessons though. I remember as a kid, I would go through the whole entire game (including all of the secret passages/tricks) until the credits came on at the end. I would fail and fail but keep trying my hardest until I really completed it. I remember crying when I finally hit the credits for Super Nintendo. I did it all on my own haha and I felt so accomplished.
    From Shopping to Saving recently posted..PF Link Love: Fave Reads of the Week, The I Have 2 Dads EditionMy Profile

    • MMD says

      The one they made for the Wii is pretty great too! When I was a kid, I also used to get SO PUMPED when I would win! I would announce it to the whole house (as if they cared). It just felt so good to finally figure it out like a giant puzzle and win!

    • MMD says

      I know, the 8-bit is so silly! Just look at that Princess in the last screen shot. What is she?? A pile of blocks?

    • MMD says

      Thanks Bryan and welcome to the site! Ha, you can compare finance to anything! But using Pop Culture for this application was just pure fun!

  4. says

    Oh my gosh, this post is adorable! Jeff and the boys love video games, but I wasn’t allowed to play them as a kid so never really got into them. I did play them at friends’ houses and I had some fun with Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog. I really liked your comparisons, especially the princess one. I tell my boys all the time that if you want to marry a beautiful, intelligent, sweet girl, you better get good grades. Silly? It’s not! Think about it; get good grades, go to a better college, get a better job, make more money, have a bigger house, nicer car….and sorry to say it, but yes, you will attract a prettier, smarter woman! Okay, it still sounds silly, doesn’t it? 😉 It motivates my girl-crazy little boys, though!
    Michelle recently posted..I Can See Your HaloMy Profile

    • MMD says

      You weren’t allowed to play? Awh, that’s too bad. You could always buy one now and play them 

      If you wanted to re-live the Sonic games, my son has a Nintendo DS game where it has the first 4 Sonic games. If your boys have that system, I’d pick that one up also. It’s a blast!

      The Princess analogy one was one of my favorites too. That’s why I saved it for last. I like how you’re using it for leverage for your kids to get better grades. That’s pretty funny. And it’s sad to say, but I totally agree. I think you’re in a much better position to catch a real babe if you’ve got a nice job, more money, good looks, etc. Those things certainly don’t hurt! When your boys get older, you should take them to a college campus and let them also take in the scenery (i.e. pretty girls). Then you’ll really see some motivation to get good grades and get into college!

    • MMD says

      Hello and welcome to the site! Number 3 could be as you’ve interpreted it. But what I actually had in mind was more career and personal finance. A warp zone could be finding a great job, promotion, or business opportunity that accelerates your career. A warp zone could also be handling your money, investing it, and getting richer than the average person. In either case, your risk pays off by accumulating wealth and success far more quickly than if you just went about your business doing the total norm – going to work every day, never stepping outside of your comfort zone.

  5. MMD says

    Oh, there were some major FITS when you’d die! But that’s part of what you have to learn as a kid. You don’t always win the first time, next time, or many times after that. Sometimes there’s some humility and it takes a really long time to figure it out.

    • MMD says

      Okay, this will show what a nerd I am:

      When Nintendo released Super Mario Bros 2, they released one version in the US and one in Japan. The one in the US was the one we all know. When Nintendo came out with “Mario All Stars”, they added the Japanese one as part of the package and called it “The Lost Levels”. It was very similar to Super Mario 1 but a lot harder.

  6. Marnie Byod says

    Great methapor of Super Mario and great perspective as well. There are so many circumstances in life that makes us learn and realize in some ways or in some other ways. Glad to know your philosophy in life and thanks a lot for sharing this to us.
    Marnie Byod recently posted..mitchelton buyingMy Profile

  7. says

    Great post MMD! I LOVED LOVED the original Mario Bros for Nintendo. I played it a ton as a kid and there was a few months in college that one of my friends and I bought it and would sit down (a few times) and beat it in a day.

    Those are all really great parallels though. I love when bloggers do these fun/creative comparisons. Well done!
    Jason recently posted..Carnivals, Mentions, & Weekend Reading #17My Profile

    • MMD says

      It was definitely a fun post to write! It was time for a little more humor on my site also.

      I’m glad I brought back some good memories!

  8. says

    Oh my gosh I loved that game. And it was absolutely the first thing I downloaded when I got a Wii. Nine and ten are probably my favorite lessons at the moment. The boyfriend has this rant he goes on about how all these sports teams now encourage kids not to keep score as to not scar them from losing. He gets all angry because he feels like it’s detrimental to their development; you need to learn how to both win and lose gracefully and deal with the emotions of both. If you don’t do it when you’re a kid, you’re pretty much set up to never try anything in life because you don’t know how good it can be to get a win, and you’re scared to death of failing. I can’t say I disagree.
    femmefrugality recently posted..If the world is ending, is it time to rack up your credit cards?My Profile

    • MMD says

      Exactly! I think there’s a lot of good to video games in terms of problem solving development and just simple motivation to keep trying until you win! And lately with motion controlled sets, this only adds back in the element of physical activity.

  9. says

    This is just awesome and very true. I wish I could get the old versions on the game system I own but it isn’t in the Nintendo family. Great read.

    • MMD says

      Thanks! Wii’s are pretty cheap now – you could always splurge and pick one up just to re-live this game and have some fun!

      • says

        You are right about that, and with places like game stop I could probably find one pretty cheap. I think I will have to do that soon.

  10. says

    What a fun post!! I love it, being a child of the right era and all. One of our co-op students this summer has the coin noise as his text message sound. We had a big debate the other day about whether or not mushrooms came out of coin boxes with multiple hits. Disagreement ensues. Might have to play on a simulator to find out.
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..Creative Cash: Word Search eTransferMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Hi and welcome to the site. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I know the coin sound! One of my colleagues also has that on his phone. BTW – In the original, you only got either coins or mushrooms from the box – but never mixed. I can vouch since we have it for the Wii.

    • MMD says

      Thanks and welcome to the site! I don’t think I ever thought about that way either until I needed a funny blog post. But there’s some truth to some of the those observations. Like why was a plumber the central hero of the game??

  11. says

    Dude! I used to play the original Mario on original Nintendo so much (in college) and I got so good at it that I could beat the game in less than 10 minutes! You have to super speed through all levels and warp straight from 1-2 to 4 and 4-2 to 8. If you can super speed almost the entire time and not die even once, it is possible in just under 10 minutes.

    This is my metaphor for get really good at something in life and then do that thing to get rich quick!
    Matthew Allen recently posted..Truly Passive Income from My Old BlogMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Thanks Matt and welcome to the site! Ha – I remember that trick. That’s where all the warp zones were. You must have flew through those levels to beat it in 10 minutes. BTW – I’ve been reading up more on your niche site advice. That’s very interesting stuff!


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