Last week was a truly special time as we celebrated the increasing number of students who have been awarded academic prizes and special awards.
I understand that not all parents can attend the annual Speech Night and so I wanted to provide you with an excerpt of my address, in the hope that this may be of interest to you:
Spare a thought and consider the following:
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see shadow
Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.
Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.
There are many wonderful quotes about the importance of positivity in our life and the need to flip our thinking from negativity into positivity. Can we indeed turn a negative situation into a positive one!?
This week, for example, I started to lose my voice and am still recovering from the flu. Wonderful, I thought – Speech Night, Valedictory, Academic Awards, but then my darling daughter said this is not a bad thing, at least you will not speak for so long – people will be very thankful Dad!
A great example of turning a negative into a positive.
My second thought was, I wrote my speech more than a month ago for tonight, and it is too long for me to get through it the way I am feeling, and now I need to write another one. A negative thought.
Flip my thinking… I already have next year’s speech finished (a positive for all of us!)
It is interesting that some people view the world through the lens of the glass being half full, whereas others believe not only is the glass is half empty, but it is cracked, they cut their lip on it and then they chipped their tooth! (Janeane Garofalo)
We have all met people who fit into these categories and who live their life this way.
This begs the question, are we truly grateful for our lives, for the opportunity to live in this wonderful country, for the loved ones around us, for having food on our plate each day, to live without hunger, to live in safety and relative harmony?
When we phrase it like this, we surely all acknowledge that we should be grateful, but we need to remember that the highest form of gratitude is not to utter the words, although this is important, but to live in a way that demonstrates that we are so. This seems much harder for many people to do.
We get caught up in our own lives, striving to do the best we can for our family that so often we forget about what we have been given. This creates a situation in which we solely look to gain, as opposed to opening the door to give.
We forget that there are thousands of families in Australia who are homeless – some 116,000 people; thousands more who will go hungry tonight; and even more who are barely above the poverty line.
So, each of us here – if we have a roof over our head, if we have eaten today and we can afford any luxuries at all – we are indeed fortunate.
I think one of the challenges in modern life is that we fill our days to the max; our calendars are full – sometimes to the extent that our spouses and children need an appointment to see us. This makes us feel that life is closing in on us.
Is this what our children believe awaits them in adulthood? I hope not, but our decisions and our behaviours talk to our children even when we do not.
The full calendar not only limits our free time but also limits our perspective. If we are so busy completing tasks and chores, when do we ever get a chance to stop and smell the roses? To get perspective?
There are those who believe that first world problems are the result of human achievement and see no issue with them and while I can see and appreciate the argument, the issue in my mind speaks to our reality of life and our gratitude.
If we believe ourselves to be fortunate, do we then recognise the support provided by others to assist us in being so?
I certainly feel that we are very fortunate to work, study and be a member of this community.
Do we complain that there is not a car park right outside the building we need to go to or are we thankful for that which we do have?
Do we get upset by the disruption caused by the building program or do we think we are so fortunate to have such wonderful facilities?
Do we say Speech Night was too long as opposed to recognising the many wonderful achievements of young people in our community?
Many would say it is human nature to look at things this way, but I think this is an excuse – it does not have to be so – this is indeed a choice we make.
When you look at the world through a lens of gratitude, our troubles seem less mountainous, we are thankful, more appreciative and we see the best in others as opposed to their failings.
Further, if we are truly grateful for what we have been given by those who have come before us, should we not give to those who follow us?
Sydney Smith said “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little – do what you can.”
On that note, I would like to thank and acknowledge our staff for their generosity. They are not the sole educators in the life of our children, but they play an important role. Your dedication and commitment to do all you can for each and every child is appreciated and strongly recognised.
I would also like to acknowledge the work of the Friends of A.B. Paterson College, and in particular Mrs Lisa Lang. You give so much of yourself to this College and are indeed a shining light of gratitude and generosity. You have done all you can to develop the concept of community in our school. Thank you.
To our parents who have given so generously of their time and volunteered to support students and our various programs – thank you. We could not do this without you.
To our Board, I thank you for your support. Yours is a thankless role as you continue to steer our College not only for today but for the years ahead.
I think we can all look at the young people here tonight, who have achieved so much, and be proud of being associated with this College. To this end, I think it imperative for us all to think – how can I give back to this community. How can I help make this education a reality for those students who want to sit here many years from now?
Our College Foundation has such a mandate and is attempting to raise vital funds to support the ongoing development of the College and to enable our College to be more affordable for families and recognise the wonderful achievements of our staff.
With this in mind, should you be grateful for your experience in this College and wish to contribute to our future students, please consider a donation to our Foundation – remember Sydney Smith’s quote: It would be a shame to not do anything at all – please do what you can.
It is my hope that over the coming years we will develop a genuine philanthropic community – one in which gratitude abounds, one in which we are thankful for all that is available, that we look through the lens of gratitude, first and foremost, and that we aim to support those who follow us as we have been supported from those before us.
I wish you a wonderful night, thank you for your attendance and hope that we can all consider a new lens from which to view our life.