St Paul’s School


I hope that the students had a wonderful break over the winter holidays, and that those who were lucky enough to travel with their family, or go on one of the four School tours, had a wonderful time.

My son was married on the first weekend of the holidays. It was an incredible occasion. My first child to be married; a reminder of how quickly life passes by. It does not seem that long ago that he graduated from St Paul’s School. It was an outdoor wedding. Thankfully, the weather was superb. All the planning came together and everyone had a terrific time celebrating. The occasion was a great reminder of how grateful we should be for life, and for everything that we have.

In our fast-paced western culture, we are constantly reminded by marketing that there is just a little more we need in order to be happy. Social media platforms are saturated messages that encourage us to compare ourselves with everyone else, leaving us with the sense that we somehow always fall short. We are so time poor as we try to keep up with everyone around us that we marginalise what is truly important. It is little wonder that anxiety is on the rise. We forget to be grateful for what we do have.

One of the School tours during the break was the annual outreach trip to Vanuatu. The students who go on that trip spend time in a culture that is a world apart from our own and yet is only three hours from our shores. The villages they spend time in are a collection of simple lean-tos made from scrap corrugated iron. The people get around in their only set of clothes. They grow or hunt their own food. There is no running water and no electricity. There is essentially no employment. Yet, the students will tell you that they have never come across such happy, grateful people.

We are truly lucky to live in Australia. As we start the new term, I encourage us all to practice gratitude. Set aside a time each day, maybe at the family mealtime, to think of five things for which you are grateful. They can be the most basic of things like the food we eat, the job we have, the relationships we enjoy. The practice has several benefits. It is a reminder of how lucky we actually are, but not only that; mindfulness research has shown that this practice can reduce our risk of anxiety and depression by changing our outlook. Start a gratitude habit.

Dr Paul Browning

Posted with permission
Original article published here