Tuesday Tales: Kudos to the Aussie Culture – Donna Thistlethwaite

Over the weekend I had a conversation that spiked my gratitude for being Australian.

A new member of our cycling group, let’s call her Rosemary, shared that she is from Hong Kong and has only started road cycling recently. I was so inspired that she had taken up the sport at 60 for fitness and to make the most of the great weather and wide-open spaces in Brisbane.

She was absolutely loving the encouragement and practical tips shared by the more experienced cyclists in the group. It’s so beneficial when we can be open to advice and can see it in a positive light.

As our cranks turned and our breathing laboured to stay in contact with the pack towards the end of the long ride, Rosemary told me that she has found Australians to be incredibly generous with their time and expertise. She said “It’s so different from my culture where we protect what we have rather than share it.  For example, if you find an excellent tutor for your child you would never tell anyone else. I think it’s because there are not enough high-quality schools and because we are always looking for a competitive edge. Another example would be if you were lining up for an exam and someone asked you if you knew the answer to a question. The response would be yes, but I’ll tell you afterwards.”

Rosemary and I were equally curious about the situation. I love learning about other cultures and hadn’t really appreciated the difference that Rosemary had observed. We probably take it for granted because it’s the culture.

Rosemary had initially found our behaviour puzzling. When she first started cycling, acquaintances came to her home to show her how to use equipment, shared knowledge and provided other support. Perplexed, after a while, she asked “Why do you do this for me”. The reply was “Because someone did it for us.” What a beautiful ripple effect that is. And what a wonderful way to reinforce our culture.

Yesterday I was personally on the receiving end of someone’s generosity. I met this contact through my work and after hearing that I was struggling with a particular business activity they offered to give me a crash course in it. A couple of hours later and with resources and homework in hand, I left his office feeling incredibly grateful for that Aussie kindness.

And the really cool thing is that he will have benefited too. Research tells us that when we do something for someone else we experience a phenomenon called “Helper’s High” – a release of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins etc that make us feel amazing. The best high there is if you ask me!

Many years ago one of my schoolmates posted on social media “Being born in Australia is like winning the lotto”. This story is just one more way that this rings true for me.

Let’s never stop sharing, caring and being helpful to everyone whose paths we cross. It’s great for us and for them. Who knows where the ripple effect can reach.

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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.

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