“Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.”

Tim Minchin was awarded an honorary doctorate by The University of Western Australia. Watch the video for his entire speech, but below is a very abbreviated version of the quotes that I just love. Numbers 6 and 7 are my favorites. (You can also read the full transcript here.)

  1. You don’t have to have a dream. I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye.
  2. Don’t seek happiness. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect.
  3. Remember, it’s all luck. Understanding that you can’t truly take credit for your successes, nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate. Empathy is intuitive, but is also something you can work on, intellectually.
  4. Exercise. Most of you mob are going to live to nearly a hundred, and … this long, luxurious life ahead of you is going to make you depressed! But don’t despair! There is an inverse correlation between depression and exercise. Do it. Run, my beautiful intellectuals, run. And don’t smoke.
  5. Be hard on your opinions. You don’t have to be unscientific to make beautiful art, to write beautiful things. Science is not a body of knowledge nor a system of belief; it is just a term which describes humankind’s incremental acquisition of understanding through observation.
  6. Be a teacher. Even if you’re not a teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas. Don’t take for granted your education. Rejoice in what you learn, and spray it.
  7. Define yourself by what you love. We have tendency to define ourselves in opposition to stuff. But try to also express your passion for things you love. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.
  8. Respect people with less power than you. I have, in the past, made important decisions about people I work with based largely on how they treat wait staff in restaurants. I don’t care if you’re the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful.
  9. Don’t rush. Life will sometimes seem long and tough and, god, it’s tiring. And you will sometimes be happy and sometimes sad. And then you’ll be old. And then you’ll be dead. There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is: fill it … life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic.

If you were invited to share words of wisdom, what would you say?

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