By Piper Denholm, The Flinders News

A project aimed at making people more aware of their happiness and how to embrace it has come to Port Broughton, speaking to both students and parents.

The Resilience Project was founded by Hugh van Cuylenburg eight years ago, who had watched his younger sister Georgia struggle with her mental health.

“I was blown away by how happy these people were. They had so very little to call their own. I made a study of what they did every single day and I couldn’t believe how simple their strategies were to be happy every single day.

“They practice gratitude, empathy, mindfulness and I remember thinking that is quite big. I came back to Australia as a teacher and looked at the research behind it and turned out there was a lot of research screaming at us to say we have got to do these things if we want to feel happier and have better mental health in Australia,” he explained.

Following from his discovery, he created the Resilience Project where he and many others use the power of story telling and speak with schools, sporting and corporate groups to help improve their levels of happiness.

“We have worked in over 1,000 schools across the country, the National Rugby League, the AFL, Australian cricket, Australian netball. It is program for everyone.

“We have had unbelievable anecdotal feedback from people. People say it has been quite life changing for them, being present in what they’ve got and being calm and present and being there for other people,” Hugh explained.

The talk is based upon three elements, gratitude, empathy and mindfulness and how these can be used.

“The importance of practicing gratitude, where you pay attention to what you’ve got and not what you don’t have. Empathy, where you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and you feel what they feel. The third one, mindfulness is when you are properly present and properly in the moment,” Hugh explained.

Hugh spoke in front of students from Bute Primary School and Port Broughton Area School as well as over 100 parents who came to a discussion on Wednesday night, May 29.

The students were enthusiastic about the talk and took away several points that they will be implementing into their daily lives.

Zali Kerley, a Year 6 students says she learnt that having gratitude is about being grateful.

“I learnt that if you have gratitude you are grateful for what you have got and you are not always wanting more. I will do the three happiness tips,” she said.

Karsha Ireland in Year 5 learned to be mindful and kind to everyone and says that she will be more grateful for the things that she has.