The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

We Are What We Look For

What you look for is what you see;

What you search for is what you find.

Often, articles I read that relate to wellbeing centre around our power to choose. Victor Frankl was a man who survived the concentration camps run by the Nazis during World War Two. His thinking was shaped by his experiences in those places, where he saw people survive because of their positive will to live. He came to believe that, even in the most horrendous of conditions, each of us still has the ability to make a choice regarding how we respond to those circumstances:

“In between stimulus and response, there is a space; in that space lies our power to choose our response;

in our response lies our growth and freedom.”

The choices we make shape who we are.

We find those things for which we search, perhaps not always, but more often than not. There is a very simple activity which I have encouraged some of our students to incorporate into their lives as a habit, and this is to write down each night three good things that have happened that day. It might be a positive interaction they had with someone, taking in a pleasant view, or reading a good book. It can be anything – big but, more often than not, small and always particular to the individual. Some find this hard at first, because of our in-built negativity bias. We are wired to look for danger and to keep an eye out for the bad. But research shows that looking for and recording the good – and being grateful for the good things and people in our lives – actually enables us to get better at recognizing the good. The more we look for the good, the more we see of the good. We start to see the good in ourselves more often and we start to see the good in others as well, so that this becomes our default position.

It is important to realise that looking for the good does not mean ignoring what is bad or what is wrong or what needs to be challenged or changed. It is about accepting that, even though our world may be filled with difficulty, there is good there, particularly in the small and everyday things. And by finding the good in the world around us, it filters into us as well.

We are so fortunate at Scotch to be surrounded by good – in our students, staff and parents, and in the activities which take place. The Senior School Production of “The Government Inspector” in Week 6 was a perfect example. The joy of watching the cast perform, and the joy they derived from their performance, lifted everyone’s mood. And even though the messages of the play, relating to the need to guard against the excesses of human nature and the dangers of a corrupt and repressive system of government, are just as relevant today as when Gogol wrote it in the 1830s, the humour he used makes those messages even sharper.

Week 7 in Senior School has been dominated by the heats of the House Singing competition. When the boys sing in their House groups together, to me it is a celebration of many things. It is the willingness of a group of young men to work together in a common cause, to go out of their comfort zones but to do so in the knowledge that they are part of something good, something bigger than them as an individual. Congratulations to all Houses on their efforts this week – I have loved seeing and hearing them perform. In particular, well done to Ferguson, Keys, Ross and Shearer who have made it through to the final, which will be held at the last assembly of the term, on Friday 5th July. Please join us, if you can, for these performances.

We have also been running mindfulness sessions with the Year 10s in their House groups during their Wellbeing lessons, and these will continue into next term. Our Brain Reset sessions will recommence in Week 8 (Wednesday 19th June) and Week 10 (Wednesday 3rd July) for interested Year 10s – 12s, from 3.45-4.30pm. These too will continue into next term. And our Year 1-3 students are continuing with their Yoga programme on Wednesday afternoons.

With each of these activities, our boys have a choice to make regarding how they will engage. If they decide to approach it with a positive attitude, one where they look for the good and look for what they can take from it, they find the experience far more rewarding. This seems to me to be such an important thing for us to encourage if we want to prepare them for life in all its glory.