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Spending a couple of days immersed in the big thoughts, big ideals and discussing big challenges with some great Australians last week was completely rejuvenating. The annual Communities in Control Conference in Melbourne on 26-27 May 2014 was a fantastic event filled with challenging conversations and lots of “light bulb” moments.

One of my favourite presentations was on day one when psychologist and social researcher Hugh Mackay led delegates through a thoughtful – and thought-provoking – look at what makes a life worth living.

He decried the individual pursuit of happiness as “a modern madness” – a “Utopia complex”, urging people to experience the full spectrum of emotions lest we don’t know what it is like to be human.

He told conference-goers that happiness is not an emotional state, but comes through a virtuous life. He also said that parents needed to strive for more than just ensuring their children had a “happy life” – that they should be taught resilience and parents should help them experience a cross-section of emotions.

And he emphasised the importance of community – “The good life doesn’t have anything to do with happiness, feeling good, doing well financially. The good life is a life devoted to goodness, the morally good pathway. And it is also about a life lived for others.”

One of the great joys of the conference was chatting with other participants and learning about their interesting community work. Another joy was being able to share the experience with my colleague and friend Dana Hughes of Dana Hughes Career and Training (pictured).

We are finalising arrangements for our “Relaunch Your Career” workshop on 21 June in South Gippsland, and it promises to be an amazing day, with a wonderfully diverse group of women registered to participate. There are a couple of places left, so get in quick if you would like to attend.
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This workshop contributes to our passion for “a life lived for others”, one of Hugh Mackay’s key ingredients for a “happy life”!