Go and get happy. Read!

Over the years I’ve gone to a few different leadership courses for work. Some stick in my mind for different reasons.

There was the one that had half the room sobbing uncontrollably within the first 30 mins of a four day course – surprisingly a good course.

The one though that I remember above all included a moment that is etched in my memory – I remember it clearly because I vehemently disagreed with the speaker.

The so called business expert and leadership coach said something along the lines of: “If you ever want to succeed in life and business, you must only feed your mind with non-fiction educational and learning materials.”

What she meant by this and I recall her actually saying was: “Watching any form of reality TV or content that is purely for entertainment purposes, is a complete waste of your time and brain, and will affect your ultimate success”.

This point was debated for some time. In the room were people including myself rapidly justifying to her why we watched reality shows and other “TV junk”. We were desperately seeking her approval.

In the room we had people who worked intensely busy jobs (including myself at the time), where it wasn’t unheard of to work 60 hour weeks. We had former journalists, emergency services workers and soldiers who had been on the frontline.

We argued that these people (us) deserved a little escapism. Time to watch something that required no thought. With no other purpose than to be entertained.

The speaker shut us down again, reinforcing her message that we were “wasting our lives”.

Now we weren’t talking about people who watch what may be considered an unhealthy amount of TV but everyday people who had a sense of fun. She was unmoved. We would “never succeed”.

So okay TV programs, especially reality TV may be a subject of huge debate, but what the speaker said next shouldn’t be – heck as far as I’m concerned she had lost the plot.

She claimed to be a leader and a success you should only read “NON-fiction” books that are designed to “feed your mind”.

Apparently fictional books don’t “feed your mind” with anything useful.

To be honest I kind of felt sorry for her at this point . If you can’t enjoy reading in any form that you wish, then your mind isn’t being fed. It is being starved!!

It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy reading Mills & Boon or Man Booker prize winning literature.

It doesn’t matter if you do prefer non-fiction or your favourite item to read is the footy magazine.

Reading should make you feel happy, contented, alive, informed, entertained even sometimes it should make you sad or even angry. The bottom line is that reading makes you “FEEL”. Having your emotional needs met DOES feed the mind.

If you don’t believe me, read this article in the New Yorker about how reading makes you happy.

The same goes for TV and film to a certain extent. You shouldn’t have to justify to anyone why you like watching a particular show or movie.

I’m going to put it out there: I love A LOT of reality TV (for varying reasons that I don’t have to justify). You may judge me but I love Goggle Box, Masterchef, My Kitchen Rules, Real Housewives of Anywhere, but I also love drama, documentaries, crime…I love stories.

Stories, imagery, people, words…they are my oxygen…I must have more information…I must feel something…yes watch what you want, but more importantly read what meets your needs and your mind will be fed.

I saw a quote once that “a library is a hospital for the mind” and that members of the jury is where I rest my case. Go forth and read and watch whatever the heck you want!

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Kylie Fennell
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