a chat with Hugh Mackay about getting creative (sunday life)

This week I’m cruddily creative


Every now and then I use the auspice of this column to meet people I’ve always wanted to sit next to on a long plane trip so as to pick their brains for fatty morsels on how to make life better. It’s not a bad perk of the job. So, on Tuesday I arranged to have afternoon tea with social researcher and ethicist Hugh Mackay.

Mackay is a man whose values and considered opinions I’ve gravitated to since I was a kid, like a little mollusk to a sturdy pylon in rough, swirling waters. He’s spent more than 50 years observing and reporting on what matters to Australians, the fatty morsels from which he’s collated in his latest bestseller “What makes us Tick“, I figure, as we order sencha, he might be able to answer this: what’s the one thing that works?

Having interviewed tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of Australians and spent decades reflecting on his own sense of wholeness, this is what he reckons makes for a better life: Being creative. And often.

We both agree that the pursuit of happiness is not much chop when it comes to determining a better life. It’s fleeting and only one emotional expression among many on the spectrum. A satisfying, full, purposeful and whole life is what we’re all after and to achieve this requires knowing ourselves, our true, “inner” selves, which is something Mackay and I both agree on, as do a long tradition of philsophers, theologians and eastern spiritual types. And the shortcut to this? Being creative.

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