Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Wear sunscreen.

In a few days' time the Australian director Baz Luhrmann's new movie 'The Great Gatsby' will premiere at the Cannes film festival. Often described as a maverick, Luhrmann also directed 'Strictly Ballroom', 'Romeo + Juliet' and 'Moulin Rouge!'. The critics are saying good things about his new film.

Often forgotten, though, is that Baz Luhrmann was also responsible for producing the quirky 90s hit record 'Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)', an entertaining 'commencement speech' actually written as an advice column by a Chicago journalist.

I'm sure you'll know it, but whether you do or not, it's worth checking out YouTube for either a reminder or an introduction. Essentially, a wise male narrator reads a long list of pieces of advice for young people - things like 'Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements', 'Do one thing everyday that scares you' and - of course - 'Wear sunscreen'.

What resonates with me most about the song is the idea of being sure to keep learning, and to do so each and every day.

When our emotional weather is good, I think we all like to acquire new knowledge. We like to be surprised, we enjoy being amazed, we're excited by new ideas. On a bleaker day, however, our appetite for everything can be diminished. We may find we're off our food, just as we lose our hunger for new ideas.

But learning is a great example of what I like to think is one of those 'what came first, the chicken or the egg' principles in mental wellbeing, for while it's certainly true that we like to learn when we feel good, it can also work in reverse: you can make yourself feel good by learning.

As I prepare to pass the baton over to the Moodscope Team in a couple of days' time, it's tempting to want to leave you with advice - and if I did, I'm sure that 'keep learning' would be one of my themes. But (a) I'm sure you already know this, and (b) although I'm leaving Moodscope, I hope you'll leave me your email address (and get a free ebook) at my website - so we'll still be in touch:

http://www.joncousins.com

Whatever you think of my suggestions, however, I'm sure Baz Luhrmann was right about one thing. Sunscreen. Definitely.