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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Tim Minchin's 9 life lessons

You have probably heard of Tim Minchin - the dreadlocked Australian comedian, actor, writer, musician and director is well-known for his musical comedy and composing of successful shows Matilda The Musical and Groundhog Day.

He is also a little bit chatty and opinionated. In 2013 he gave a speech to graduating students at his alma mater, the University of Western Australia. In it he presented them with nine life lessons, but he did admit "I'm not an inspirational speaker...however I have had large groups of people listening to what I say for quite a few years now and it has given me an inflated sense of self-importance."

1. You Don’t Have To Have A Dream Unlike talent show contestants who talk about their life-long dreams, Mr Minchin advocates a passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals and working with pride on what is in front of you. The reason is that the next big opportunity might appear in your periphery and you don't want to miss it because you have long-term tunnel vision.

2. Don’t Seek Happiness While the pursuit of happiness is self-defeating, the pursuit of making other people happy might mean you get some "as a side effect".

3. Remember, It’s All Luck Statistically the odds of being born are very slim and the odds of being successful at something one you are born are, by definition, even slimmer. Mr Minchin argues realising that people can't take full credit for their successes or failures will make you more compassionate, adding: "Empathy is intuitive, but is also something you can work on, intellectually."

4. Exercise I'm going to leave this one with the man himself. "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."

5. Be Hard On Your Opinions Everyone has their own opinions and we are often quick to question, challenge and oppose those presented by others. But do we do the same with our own? By failing to acknowledge nuance and arguing the same point from points of different assumption we are creating a cycle of endless and futile argument which is not even really debate.

6. Be a teacher Share ideas and never take knowledge or education for granted. Sharing information and thereby creating understanding, development and growth is the greatest thing you can do, according to Mr Minchin.

7. Define Yourself By What You Love Don't be the girl who hates Coldplay or the guy who thinks truffle oil is a bit obnoxious. There is so much to love and admire in the world, be vocal about your passions and joys, not just the things you do not like.

At all times: "Send thank-you cards and give standing ovations. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff."

8. Respect People With Less Power Than You This speaks for itself - people will judge you based on how you treat those who are less powerful than you.

9. Don’t Rush You do not always need to know what you will do with the rest of your life. Live it, enjoy it and fill it with things that make you happy.

And as a final aside is this wonderful quote: "Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cook book; you won't find it and it will bugger up your souffle."


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