I'm looking at you, Dragon Ball GT. Nobody likes you. When a good thing is over, don't try to recreate it. It'll never be as good as it once was. Yes, Dragon Ball GT is like an ex. The previous saga ended for a reason.
Training is a major motif of the series. We see Goku grow exponentially in strength through sheer hard work. Unlike heroes like Superman or Thor ”” who are born with their powers ”” or Spider-Man or Green Lantern ”” who have their powers thrust upon them ”” Goku's strength comes from continually pushing himself and never giving up. Sure, he has an advantage being a Saiyan, but as a mere human watching, it's hard not to be inspired to get off your butt and work hard to face your own challenges.
Let's talk about Tien for a minute. As great as Goku is, I think Tien is the most inspirational character in the whole show. Despite his weird third eye, he's a human. He's not the strongest character, but to be fair, how could he be? He's not some genetically superior alien that gets multiple forms that boost his power. Yet he never lets that deter him from training.
My favorite moment in the whole series is when he successfully stalls Cell — in his second form and unfathomably more powerful than him — from absorbing Android 18. THAT is what being a hero is all about.
Ever since the original series, Dragon Ball has always been an ensemble show. The inciting incident to the whole series is Bulma finding Goku, and them working together to hunt down the mystical orbs. As strong as Goku is, he always needed help in his adventures. Whether it was Bulma's ingenuity or guidance from Master Roshi and King Kai, we are shown that you should never be too proud or cocky to ask for help, and when you work together, you can accomplish much more. Speaking of being too proud...
Ahhh, Vegeta: Prince of all Saiyans. The living embodiment of the expression "Pride goes before the fall." Hard to blame him; I'd have an inferiority complex as well if I were only five feet tall (five and a half with the hair). Vegeta's cockiness always got him into trouble. He had his arm broken by Android 18, and was crushed and humiliated by Cell in his final form. Remember, kids, don't drink your own hype juice, and especially don't underestimate those around you.
A main difference between Goku and Vegeta is that Goku fought to protect his loved ones, while Vegeta fought to protect his pride. When you work to help others, you are motivated by more than just yourself. It's much easier to give up and forgive yourself for it, but much harder when you know others are counting on you. This explains the scenario where a mother is able to lift a car to save her child. It's as close to a real life Super Saiyan as we may ever see.
Chi-Chi wanted Gohan to be a world famous scholar/ mathematician/ scientist. Gohan was a prodigy at fighting, and wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. Parents want what's best for their kids, but pushing them to do something they don't have a passion for is a surefire way to foster resentment growing up. You must pick your battles, let them be themselves and try to coach them, not force them.
To exceed your limits, you must understand them. Admit your faults. It's okay; No one is perfect. By finding your limits you can gradually surpass them. Goku always trained to be better than he was the day before. When you begin a workout regime, start at a level you're comfortable with. Don't just immediately try to throw up more weight to impress those around you. Poor Yamcha once tried matching Vegeta in a gravity chamber, and nearly died as a result. Never be Yamcha.
Goku enjoyed fighting for the sport of it. He never took pleasure in hurting others. He always gave them a chance to apologize and walk away, before and after fights. It'd be great if the leaders of the world could be pure-hearted enough to ride the Nimbus cloud. This may not be realistic, but hey, why not "give peace a chance" before flying into battle?
Goku always looked for the best in his adversaries. In fact, almost all of his friends started out as enemies. Yamcha was a devious desert bandit, Krillin was his cocky training rival, Tien was a warrior from a rival school, Piccolo tried to kill Goku and all of his friends, and Vegeta was present while his partner, Nappa, killed half of the gang. Despite all this, Goku forgave them, and they all proved invaluable in fighting off future enemies. You have nothing to gain from holding on to a grudge, but potentially a lot to gain by opening your heart.
11. It's Never Too Late to Do the Right Thing
It's one thing to forgive others, but it's another to forgive yourself. It's hard to see yourself as anything other than a monster when you've done so much wrong in your life. But you aren't defined exclusively by your past. Vegeta had a hard time letting go of all the death and destruction he was responsible for, and was manipulated by the magician Babidi into turning evil. If there's one thing this series taught me, it's that there's no such thing as good or bad people: there's just people who make good or bad choices.
Vegeta made a lot of bad choices, and chose later in life to make right and fight for someone other than himself. Today is the perfect day to try and live a little better than yesterday.
12. Take a Break Every So Often
During the Cell Saga, Goku and Gohan emerged from a year's worth of intensive training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. Instead of training any further, Goku chose to enjoy the ten days leading up to the Cell Games Tournament. He explained that any additional training would just wear down the body, and do more harm than good. This is easily applied to real life situations.
I'm sure everyone knows a workaholic, or maybe you are one. Devote too much energy to something with no rest, you'll quickly burn out. It's okay to step back, recharge your batteries and come back to work with a fresh, new perspective.
13. It's Okay to Be Different
Everybody has their flaws, quirks and demons (literally with King Piccolo until we found out he was actually a Namekian). Our differences are what make us special. Dragon Ball Z had a diverse cast of weird and wonderful characters. Flying cats and pigs that could talk and shapeshift and a little monkey boy who transformed into a giant, rampaging ape during the full moon, all ran in the same circles.
In high school, uniform cliques of jocks, geeks, cheerleaders, etc. run rampant. It's okay not fitting into a mold. Being a bit strange is okay and having a lot of strange friends is also okay. It gives you a wider perspective on the world around you.
Saving the world from an evil space tyrant isn't the only act of heroism that exists. Hercule (or Mr. Satan, if you're nasty), is the most cowardly character in the series. Yet, he's also responsible for saving the Earth on two separate occasions. He spoke to the Earth as their hero (the one they needed, not deserved) and convinced them to donate energy to the Spirit Bomb that destroyed Majiin Buu.
In life, you don't have to be the one dragging twenty people out of a burning building. Giving blood and donating food to the hungry are heroic acts in and of themselves. Again, be the best you can be.