You see what you look for: Meet Gratitude speaker Toni Powell
Ashleigh Hopping | On 15, Feb 2016
â€œI was waiting for something to make me feel happy so Iâ€™d be grateful, but itâ€™s sort of the reverse: when you become grateful, you get happy.â€
Toni Powell is not the kind of person you would expect to be preaching about wellbeing. Sheâ€™s edgy, hilarious and endlessly curious, and has experienced exhilarating highs and devastating lows. After years of excessive worrying and depression, Toni set out to find a cure for her unhappiness and now she wants you to know about it too: gratitude.
In a society where depression is prevalent, Toniâ€™s message is important and potentially life-changing.
When we sit down to chat, she has just spent the morning with her mother at Bingo and tells me sincerely how unexpectedly exciting it was. â€œExhausting! So much concentration, I donâ€™t know how these old people do itâ€¦a lot of focus, great brain stuff.â€
Toni happens to be an expert on â€˜brain stuffâ€™. An author, filmmaker and established speaker, she has presented at events alongside The Dalai Lama and Brene Brown and has also been the subject of ABCâ€™s Australian Story. These days, she runs two separate day long Lifeclasses: one on gratitude, and one on relationships.
What prompted Toni to craft these events was heavy research into the science behind happiness. She was creating a documentary which required her to read â€œloads and loads of books on gratitude and rewiring your brainâ€ and interviewed many of the worldâ€™s leading researchers. â€œThe brain science was what really altered how I approached life.â€
At the heart of her Gratitude Lifeclass, Toni speaks about the six words that change everything: you find what you look for. She presents evidence on how gratitude effectively combats depression, and her words are backed up by the best in the business.
â€œThere is research now saying, â€˜oh hang on, we think we got it wrongâ€Šâ€”â€Šdepression may not actually be a chemical imbalance, it might be a neural pathway thing.â€
She acknowledges that gratitude is not the effortless way out. â€œWith anti-depressants, you have to keep taking them. Gratitude is similar. You have to keep going, but itâ€™s free, and it doesnâ€™t have bad side effects. It has amazing side effectsâ€¦grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality and optimism, and lower levels of depression and stress.â€
As someone who has attended a couple of the Gratitude Lifeclasses over the years, I can tell you that not only do they make a difference, theyâ€™re also ridiculously fun. â€œI always imagine myself as an audience member [when putting together content], I want to make it super engaging because I get bored to tears really quickly.â€
When I asked Toni why she decided to spread the word publicly instead of just adopting these habits into her own life, she told me that sheâ€™s always had a desire to do â€œsomething that changed the world.â€
At just nine years old, she put together her first event: a fete in her parentâ€™s backyard with pony rides. She raised $21 for charity that day. Toni will never be able to passively watch a need go by unaddressed where she feels she can make a difference.
â€œIâ€™ve always been the sort of person that if I know or find out something that works, I want to tell everybodyâ€¦I would see people on the street looking really miserable and want to run up to them and say, â€˜Listen! There are some really simple things you can do to change your life, if you want to.â€™â€
WHEN: Saturday, 20 February 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
WHERE: Hear and Say Centreâ€Šâ€”â€Š29 Nathan Avenue Ashgrove, Qld 4066 AU
HOW MUCH: $109 (Concession), $149 (General)
TICKETS: Click here to register.
Click here to go to Toni’s website.