This exact question was asked as I finished a speech recently on depression and anxiety.
I had told the audience about how widespread depression is. That every day, six Australians take their own lives.
The Lucky Country question disturbed me as I didn’t really have an answer. I mean, if your life is threatened you will fight tooth and nail to survive. So, when our standard of living is so high and our safety assured, why do we feel empty?

The answer lies in a fascinating scientific study conducted in 1999 by Simons and Chabris. They found that when we focus on a given task we selectively delete other factors even when they are right in front of our face. To watch this, called the gorilla experiment, click here: https://youtu.be/vJG698U2Mvo

But here comes the crunch. When we are focused on the things that make us comfortable, it is often at the expense of the things that will provide us with the most reward.
Our mission, or purpose in life, is invisible when we are comfortable.

Our job now is not to make ourselves uncomfortable to achieve something.
It is to clarify what matters most.

woman sitting on mountain

Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

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1A46F4E2-C086-4120-9DBD-A81BAEE48220Wrote in my journal today that the days seem to be passing quicker. At 56 years of age and with my mother recently dying and my father fighting Alzheimers and cancer, the brevity of life seems all too real. The only choice, it seems, is to relax and watch each moment pass. This seems to bring about a sense of calmness and acceptance.
The busier life is, the more important this becomes.
Similar to being in the ocean, the more you struggle the harder it is to stay afloat and enjoy the swim.

Work, relationships, life direction.
I think the decisions we make today have a profound effect on our future. Small actions I make regularly don’t mean much in the short term but over the years people tend to comment “you are so lucky”.Sean Allen
Not luck at all. Just patience I think.

Some notes to reflect on:

I cried most nights for about a year.
There were times that I had to wait 5 or 6 days for a counselling appointment and struggled in the meantime.
Trying to work whilst dealing with the trauma of a broken marriage was incredibly hard.
Some nights after I finished work I would say goodbye to the staff, lock the outside door then go into my office and crawl under the desk and lie in the foetal position
I tried to self medicate but it didn’t work.

BUT:

My mum gave me the advice “one day at a time“ and that was exactly how I got through it.
I conducted myself in a way that made me proud in later years.
When my kids grew up they realised I was traumatised by the situation and now respect me for the way I handled myself. I have become a role model for my son.
I make much better decisions now.
My life and current level of happiness is much better than it was prior to the trauma.

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Plunge on my friend.

pexels-photo-850504.jpeg

The saviour of common sense.

A ritual. A daily routine. Regular tasks that set you up for success and a positive mindset.

Mine involves simple tasks that make me feel good about the start to my day. Here they are: Read the rest of this entry »

My talk today…

Posted: April 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

Today I speak again on behalf of BeyondBlue. One of my messages is to look at your lifestyle and constantly ensure you are on track and moving in the direction of your values and beliefs.
Life is not suffering. And it’s not all happiness. It’s a mixture. Remembering that allows you to stay calm when in a storm.
You may find you are surrounded by certain conditions but that doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
Sean Allen.IMG_E1851

My 6 World Vision kids keep me grounded.
They make me realise I am useful.
Each letter I open shows me I am valuable.
Each picture reminds me I make a difference.
I also advertise the difference I am making by telling my clients that they are making a difference every time they pay me.
Here is the last letter:
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This is Amily Sun. She is one of six World Vision kids that we have in our martial arts school.
Firstly, please tell your kids that your family helps pay for her education and some medical supplies. Just by mentioning this and showing the photo, it will plant a seed that ensures everyone helps everyone else. It also reminds kids how lucky they are to live in the best corner of the best state of the best country in the world.
Now, I post this for a few reasons.
Mainly, I believe in altruism and want to show the young members of MRMA that that is what our duty is. I chose World Vision because we can put a face to our contribution. It hits home for us.
I could have chosen an organisation where more of the money goes direct to the person that needs it. (82% of World Vision fees go direct to the person in need.)
But everyone knows World Vision and the reporting process. Photos that are sent and personal notes mean there is a connection made. Your money doesn’t just seem to disappear into a black hole every month.
My second reason is a personal one.
I read a book about The Killing Fields. The author is the same age as me. When he was 15, Cambodia was embroiled in a war where huge numbers of people were slaughtered. The author’s teenage years were spent witnessing bloodshed that is the stuff of nightmares.
As I read the book, I realised that at the same time, I was in Years 10, 11 and 12.
At that age, my main focus was on doing the minimum amount of schoolwork, surfing, and the opposite sex. This realisation and subsequent embarrassment moved me to do something for those less fortunate. Maybe 40 years too late but I was unconsciously incompetent at the time.
I have told this story many times to the kids in the martial arts school in the hope that, by example, they will realise that it is their civic duty to do what they can.
I implore you to show your child the picture and explain how we are helping her.
Sean Allen
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So, that’s it.
Simple acts repeated add up.
Read that again. It works in all areas of life. Positive or negative.
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Something To Make You Think

Posted: April 30, 2017 in Depression
Tags: ,

As Remote As You Can Get.

Posted: February 13, 2017 in Searching for meaning
This year I travel to yet another corner of the world – as far-flung as I can manage – for a holiday.
I always venture to extreme locations for the mental distance it affords me.
I will fly into the Pacific and land in Port Vila, part of Vanuatu. A winding taxi drive over a mountain then an open boat takes us a short distance to Pele Island. Our accommodation is hidden by coconut palms on the northwest corner of the island. Here the ocean has made a deep gulley between Nguna Island and our home for two weeks. “Home” is a hut with sandy  floor, no running water and no electricity for two weeks. 5507 kilometres will separate me from my job, my house and my dog.
Interesting thing is that Pele Island is home to someone else and my home is an extreme corner of the world to them.
I’m sure that somewhere in Vanuatu, someone is stressed because of the complications of their life. They  will curse internet dropouts, road accidents and the weather.
Choice is the deciding factor.
Not location.
Some decide on a more simple lifestyle.
They don’t research it.
They don’t discuss it first.
They jump.
They don’t Google ‘minimalist lifestyles’.
They don’t bounce the idea off a friend.
They jump.
They don’t do an online survey.
They don’t think about it for a while.
They jump.
van
The island pictured is our destination.
The pin shows our accommodation.
Standing on the edge of the world, gives us the perspective of distance.
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Below is another perspective. A skydive starts at 14 000 feet or 2kms. That is the height of this 2nd photo. Th last thing you will hear before exiting a perfectly good aeroplane is the call of the instructor, “Jump Time!”
Everyone battles inertia when in a new situation. It is an inbuilt mechanism that is designed to save us from threats. But it also holds us back from realising our dreams.
All we need is an instructor to call “Jump Time!”
14000

Jump Time

What Is Art?

Posted: January 11, 2017 in Meryl Streep, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I recently heard some advice that was so eloquently spoken that I felt it would be wasted not to share it.

Although the speaker – Meryl Streep – has come under fire as a result of her speech, we need to look at the part that resonates with what we do and the effect we have on the community, not to dismiss the entire content because one part offends us.

For me, here is the pertinent part of her comment:

“This incident … to humiliate, when it is modelled by someone in the public platform by someone powerful, it filters down into everyone’s life because it gives permission for other people to do the same thing.
Disrespect invites disrespect.
Violence insights violence.
When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose”

Now, I am a teacher and a martial arts instructor. Whether I like it or not – I am a community leader. Our youth look up to role models. They copy them, they emulate them … they believe them. It’s a duty to take that responsibility seriously.
As mentioned above, when we say something in public (in my classes) it filters down into everyones life because it gives people permission to do the same thing. Now that’s quite a responsibility.
If you don’t have the ability to speak in public, to articulate your thoughts clearly, then you run the chance of having your teaching misused. And that is something no one wants.
To not use our skills for the greater good is a missed opportunity of the highest order.

Skills and knowledge. We can never have too much.

Here is the video – go to the 4 minute mark.

Oh, one final thing. Any action can be raised to an artform – where execution of the movement looks effortless. Take Kelly Slater of surfing fame. 11 times World Champion. I sat at a competition once and watched him receive a perfect ten from one wave.

THAT was surfing raised to an artform.

The question NOW is – what is it that you do that can be raised to an art form?