No direct path to happiness

December 10, 2018

St Margaret’s College head girl Jem Vaughan speaks about depression in her end of year speech:

Jem Vaughan was diagnosed with clinical depression in June, half way through her final year at St Margaret’s College.

She said she was not sharing her story for attention or pity but in the hope of connecting with anyone who had a similar experience, or might do in future.

“Whatever sadness, anxiety or worry looks like for you, please remember you are so incredibly valued and loved and you are always enough, just as you are.” 

“On paper 2018 was a dream year for me,” Vaughan told her classmates. 

“Captain of netball teams, good grades, attending the coolest school ever … amazing friends and an incredibly loving family. I feel blessed.

“Despite this, at the beginning of the year I actually found myself really unhappy. I was tired all the time, I lost my appetite, I was crying a lot for no reason.

“I had been really sad for quite a while and feeling really guilty about it, angry at myself. My problems seemed so trivial, so why was I unhappy?”

Vaughan learned after her diagnosis that mental illness “doesn’t discriminate”.

“My most important realisation was that there’s no direct path or checklist that will lead you to maximum happiness. Trust me, I tried to follow the path and it doesn’t make you feel any different from anyone else on any other paths.”

She shared three lessons that she learned throughout the year.

The first was that everyone has their own story “and it OK if yours isn’t perfect at the moment”.

Teenagers often judged themselves by the “highlights reel” of their peers’ social media, she said.

“We wear rose tinted glasses when we look at everyone else’s lives but then we take them off when we look at ourselves.”

Vaughan said lives can’t be ranked: “Your own messy, non-linear, imperfect life is the best life for you.”

Her second lesson was to “work hard at loving yourself”.

She told her classmates to allow themselves to be proud of their achievements – even if that was just getting out of bed in the morning – and celebrate nice moments like playing with your dog or eating all the cookie dough before baking it.

“Discover that the world doesn’t implode if you stop going 100 miles an hour.”

Her final message was to spread kindness and gratitude.

“I’m sure we have all noticed there is some pretty ugly things happening in our world at the moment so it’s our moral duty to do anything and everything we can to centre ourselves around being kind,” Vaughan said.

“We’re lucky enough to be in a pretty privileged position so let’s use it to be kind.”

It takes courage and strength to speak like this.

Being open about depression  is healthy and helps to educate people about mental illness.

 

 

 


Chasing Great

July 7, 2016

The official trailer for Chasing Great, the story of Richie McCaw and the path to the 2015 World Cup, has been released.

IMDb has the plot summary:

All Black captain Richie McCaw has lived his dream with characteristic precision and calculated determination. He’s 34 and perhaps the best rugby player ever. But the dream is almost over. He is old by professional sport standards and everyone is asking when he’s going to retire. Before his career ends Richie McCaw sets his sights on a risk-all attempt to win the Rugby World Cup back to back. No team has won it a second time in a row. No captain has won it twice. He will either end his career on an impossibly high note or take a nation’s dreams down with him. Chasing Great follows Richie McCaw through his final season as he attempts to captain the All Blacks to the first ever-back-to back World Cup win. Until now Richie McCaw’s achievements have been well documented, but little is known about the man himself. He has never courted the media and remains intensely private. Chasing Great takes the audience inside his world for the first time and what emerges is a very personal insight into high level international sport and a revealing psychological profile of the mind of a champion. Natural strength, hard work and sacrifice only get him so far. To become the best he has to master his mind. The mental toughness and self knowledge that McCaw has honed and worked to attain over the later years of his career has elevated him from a great player into perhaps the greatest ever. . . 

This film is about more than rugby and sport.

It’s the story of a country kid who worked out what he wanted to do and what it took to not only do it but do it to the best of his ability.

It launches on September 1.

 


Courage, strength, inspiration

November 7, 2015

Christchurch Boys’ head boy, Jake Bailey, was told he had only weeks to live if his cancer went untreated.

This news was broken to the 18-year-old a week before he was due to deliver his final speech at the school prizegiving on Wednesday.

He did not let that get in the way of sharing inspirational words with his peers, and was wheeled on stage in his wheelchair during a surprise break from his hospital bed. . . 

 


Tim Minchin’s 9 lessons

October 11, 2013

If you prefer to read than listen, the transcript is here and includes these gems:

Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé.

1. You Don’t Have To Have A Dream.

. . . Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you… you never know where you might end up. Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye. . .

2. Don’t Seek Happiness
Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect. We didn’t evolve to be constantly content. Contented Australophithecus Afarensis got eaten before passing on their genes.

3. Remember, It’s All Luck

. . . Understanding that you can’t truly take credit for your successes, nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate.

Empathy is intuitive, but is also something you can work on, intellectually.

4. Exercise

. . . Play a sport, do yoga, pump iron, run… whatever… but take care of your body. You’re going to need it. Most of you mob are going to live to nearly a hundred, and even the poorest of you will achieve a level of wealth that most humans throughout history could not have dreamed of. And this long, luxurious life ahead of you is going to make you depressed!

But don’t despair! There is an inverse correlation between depression and exercise. Do it. Run, my beautiful intellectuals, run. And don’t smoke. Natch.

5. Be Hard On Your Opinions

. . . We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts. . .

6. Be a teacher.
Please? Please be a teacher. Teachers are the most admirable and important people in the world. You don’t have to do it forever, but if you’re in doubt about what to do, be an amazing teacher. Just for your twenties. . .  Even if you’re not a Teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas. Don’t take for granted your education. Rejoice in what you learn, and spray it.

7. Define Yourself By What You Love
  . . . try to also express your passion for things you love. Be demonstrative and generous in your praise of those you admire. Send thank-you cards and give standing ovations. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.

8. Respect People With Less Power Than You.
I have, in the past, made important decisions about people I work with – agents and producers – based largely on how they treat wait staff in restaurants. . .

9. Don’t Rush.
You don’t need to already know what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. I’m not saying sit around smoking cones all day, but also, don’t panic. . .

And here’s my idea of romance:

You will soon be dead. Life will sometimes seem long and tough and, god, it’s tiring. And you will sometimes be happy and sometimes sad. And then you’ll be
old. And then you’ll be dead.

There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is: fill it. Not fillet. Fill. It.

And in my opinion (until I change it), life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing … but you know all that stuff already. . .

 

 


New eyes

March 6, 2012

Quote of the day:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  – Marcel Proust via The Real Voyage of Discovery at Look Up At The Sky – a post which deserves reading in full.


Blog post of the day

February 5, 2012

Adversity – Forging Steel Under Great Heat at Look Up at the Sky.

I’m not going to give you an extract, it wouldn’t do it justice.

But I will give a recommendation: read it.


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