Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Resilience Project by Hugh Van Cuylenburg

The Resilience Project by Hugh Van Cuylenburg
Published November 2019


Hugh van Cuylenburg was a primary school teacher volunteering in northern India when he had a life-changing realisation: despite the underprivileged community the children were from, they were remarkably positive. By contrast, back in Australia Hugh knew that all too many children struggled with depression, social anxieties and mental illness. His own little sister had been ravaged by anorexia nervosa. How was it that young people he knew at home, who had food, shelter, friends and a loving family, struggled with their mental health, while these kids seemed so contented and resilient? He set about finding the answer and in time came to recognise the key traits and behaviours these children possessed were gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. In the ensuing years Hugh worked tirelessly to study and share this revelation with the world. He launched The Resilience Project, which has become part of the curriculum in many schools and he tours Australia talking to parents, educators, corporations, CEOs and sporting elite. Now, with the same blend of humour, poignancy and clear-eyed insight that The Resilience Project has become renowned for, Hugh explains how we can all get the necessary tools to live a happier, more contented and fulfilling life.

I have just ‘read’ (listened to) the book The Resilience Project by Hugh Van Cuylenberg. In the book he is described by someone as being a cult leader, and the Resilience Project as a cult. The funny thing is, while I don’t think that at all, I do get it. Because after I read this book, I couldn’t stop talking about it and wanted to make sure everyone I knew read it. I even joined up a ‘non library using’ friend (I know!) to the library online, so they could listed to the audiobook themselves. 

I read it because someone mentioned it, but only in passing, saying her daughter had read it and couldn’t stop talking about it. That’s the kind of book it is. It’s not a long read, only 4 hours 40 listening time with the audiobook, and 288 pages in the physical book. It’s really a collection of stories, shared by Hugh about his journey to what has become the Resilience Project. And while I could go on and re-tell Hugh’s own stories, I won’t, because you will read all about them when you read the book 😉. 

What I will tell you, is that the idea of the Resilience Project is all about how we can implement more gratitude, empathy and mindfulness into our lives, and how that will, in turn, make us happier. I highly recommend the audiobook version of this, because the book lends itself so well to the stories being 'told', and Hugh narrates the audio version, so it's the next best thing to being able to see him in person.

Bringing all of these ideas around to my world of children’s literature, there was one book I kept thinking of the whole time I was listening to this, and that’s the book Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend by Steven Herrick. So many of Herrick’s books have an underlying theme of kindness, but this is the one that stands out to me, and is one of my all-time favourites, a book that will make your heart swell, and make you laugh out loud!

There’s a particular scene in the book, that really shows how making someone happy, can affect our own happiness, and I think about it all of the time: 

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