From the Principal

Welcome to Week Four, a week when we can finally see some clear sailing for the teaching and learning program after what seems to have been an endless number of interruptions that come with the start of a school year. Retreats, camps, photo days and assemblies are all necessary, and in most cases positive, however, they do make it tricky when endeavouring to get the boys into a study routine for the year ahead. It has been a beautiful couple of weeks, with the extreme heat of summer appearing to be behind us. The boys have settled and made a good start to the school year, according to reports from all year levels. Most boys’ efforts to apply themselves appear to be where we would expect, giving the boys the base required for a good academic year. The sense of joy in the community has been strong, which I hope continues for the remainder of the year.

Of particular note, I acknowledge how well the Year 7 cohort, the biggest in the history of the College, have transitioned into the community. This was evident in the way the boys interacted and participated in the activities on Year 7 Camp at Camp Rumbug, which I had the pleasure of visiting. It was wonderful to witness the boys fully and enthusiastically involving themselves in all the activities on offer, and supporting each other as they pushed themselves outside their comfort zones. Congratulations to Mr Byron Chen and all the staff on the camp for providing the boys with such a rich and friendly experience. On Wednesday of this week, Year 7 parents will get the opportunity to join us for a social evening where we can reflect on all that has happened so far for their sons.

On Thursday of last week the College gathered for our annual Dux Assembly, to celebrate the academic achievements for 2017 with a particular focus on the boys from the Class of 2017. This gathering is a highlight each academic year, providing a sense of pride and joy in the community as we marvel at the achievements of so many of our boys. Once again it was a wonderful gathering with many great highlights, especially having the boys of the Class of 2017 back in the community to recognise their achievements. Congratulations to Ms Carolyn Ellul and all staff involved in bringing the gathering together.

On Friday 9 February, all the boys and staff ventured down to Oakleigh pool for the annual Swimming Carnival in very pleasant conditions. The day ran very well with lots of enthusiasm, especially early as the boys’ competed house against house. In the end, Savio were victorious, but in my mind everyone in attendance was a winner. I would like to thank Mr Steve Loonstra, Mr Domenic Scarpino and all the PE staff for their organisation of the Carnival, as well as the other staff for their support and contribution on the day.

I look forward to our boys competing in the ACC Swimming Carnival on Friday Evening at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. I would like to wish the boys all the best in the knowledge that they have been getting up early and training very hard for a number of weeks to ensure they represent themselves and the College with pride. I am sure our boys will be very competitive and have a good carnival. It is always a great evening and another chance for our boys to shine. I’m hoping there will be lots of additional support from our community to encourage the boys on the night.

In my Dux Assembly address, I highlighted the importance of being happy and how it can impact on educational outcomes and life in general. The concept I proposed is a complex one and so I encourage all in the community to reflect on my thoughts and discuss it with their boys in the fond hope it provides some guidance, or perhaps even a touch of motivation for the year ahead.

2018 Dux Address

This morning’s gathering is one of the true highlights of the Salesian College Chadstone academic year, where we acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding acheivements of the highest performing students of 2017. In particular, we honour the boys of the Class of 2017 who excelled in their final year of their secondary studies. Year after year I am in awe of these boys and their accomplishments, yet I worry that some of us in this gathering today may fail to truly understand the extent of their acheivement and possibly more importantly, how it is they were able to attain such outstanding results.

To attain an ATAR greater than 90, to be the Dux of a year level, to be the Dux of an individual subject, or to be a recipient of a Salesian College Scholarship is an amazing acheivement. I’m sure many of you in the audience are sitting there thinking, ‘yeah, but its easy for these boys because they’re super intelligent’. Whilst this may be true, the reality is none of their achievements are simply the result of how smart they are, nor do these results just magically happen. These results are far more than an indication of the inteligence of these boys. Rather they are the combined affects of applying their God given talents, working extremely hard and making the most of the opportunities offered, in conjunction with an abundance of persistence and dedication that ensured they achieved results commensurate with their abilities .

In my address today I want to pick up on something Fr Frank spoke about in his homily at our Opening School Mass. Fr Frank suggested there were three things he wished for you, and one of the things he wanted for you was happiness. This is a Salesian tradition we can trace back to our roots, where St John Bosco regularly said to his boys in Turin, “I want your happiness in this world and in the eternal world.” All of us in in the community, in particular your parents, wish the same thing for you today.

I’m hoping some of you are asking yourselves, “What has this got to do with today’s theme, as we celebrate the academic achievements of 2017?”.

The answer to this question has three arguments that I submit. Firstly, at the simplest level the link is quite obvious, because if we were to ask all the students we are acknowledging here today how they were feeling, I’m sure all of them would say that they are pretty happy. Happy with their results, happy with the recognition that comes with success, happy that they have made their parents proud. Secondly, much of the happiness we enjoy in life is earnt, it comes out a sense of achievement, of giving of ourselves. The final argument is that much of the success we achieve in life relies heavily on our happiness.

As I explain these thoughts I hope that everyone of us can take something away that inspires, encourages or motivates us to explore ways we too can enjoy similar success to the boys recognised today.

I ask that as you listen, focus on the themes and not my words as my message should not rely on how eloquently I speak, as this is very unlikely to have a magical affect on your motivation. However, if you understand the message and how it could impact on you, this may bring about a change in you that may move you to work to the levels these boys have, or stir a desire in you to emulate their persistence. So again I say, listen to the message, reflect on it, and hopefully one day it may resonate with you and may even inspire you to take your place up here on stage in years to come.

The dictionary defines happiness as the state of being happy. Along with this definition there is a long list of synonyms including words like contentment, pleasure, contentedness, and satisfaction. I think these words tell us much about how to achieve happiness. I hope to enlighten you.

Research into happiness often defines a happy person as someone who experiences frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest, and pride, and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety and anger (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Happiness has also been said to relate to life satisfaction, appreciation of life and moments of pleasure, but overall it has to do with the positive experience of emotions.

Many of us here today probably have a simplistic understanding of happiness, linking it to having fun at a party, the excitement of new experiences, or the delights of a fine meal. Now, these are all wonderful experiences to be cherished and cultivated, but they are not happiness.

These experiences are the definition of pleasure. They are experiences to have and let pass. A meal to savor, then digest. A party to enjoy then let wind down. Pleasure is fleeting, and must be if it is to continue to please us, because if we have these joyful experiences all the time, our brains adapt and turn pleasure into routine. Once that happens, it takes even more to make us feel good again. Chasing pleasure is not happiness.

So, if happiness is not the same thing as pleasure, then what is happiness?

Happiness is when your life fulfills your needs.

In other words, happiness comes when you feel satisfied and fulfilled. Happiness is a feeling of contentment that life is just as it should be. Perfect happiness, enlightenment, comes when you have all of your needs satisfied.

Given this, the question we have to ask is, what are our needs? Our boys may ask themselves what their needs are as students, because once they answer this they will know what they have to do to make themselves really happy. Is it a perfect score, is it the knowledge that we have given our all to a given task or is it a desire to help others in their learning? Regardless of what it is, unless we answer this we are unlikely to be truly happy.

My second point is that happiness comes about as the result of a feeling of achievement. Whilst this statement may appear obvious, I would argue that many in society fail to heed this fact. We see examples of this every day in the media as demonstrated by the many examples of people trying to take a short cut to happiness, through material possessions, drugs or alcohol, all of which demonstrate that people don’t fully understand that the things most likely to make us happy need to be worked for. As Theodore Isaac Rubin once said, “Happiness does not come from doing easy work, rather from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” I encourage you all to ask your parent or other adults in your life, what are the things that make them really happy? I am pretty sure the examples they give will be the things they worked hardest for.

The last point, that our success is reliant on happiness, may be the hardest to understand. To assist I have relied on the numerous studies that show that successful people more often than not display the attributes associated with happy people. Studies linked to students having successful learning outcomes all show the students most likely to succeed are the ones that are happy and feel a sense of belonging. Therefore, I encourage all of us to take the advice of Albert Schweitzer who says, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful”.

So if we put these three things together, we begin to understand that we control much of our happiness. However, this does present a catch 22 situation, because to experience happiness we need to achieve some form of success, which will differ from person to person. To have success, we need to work hard, but to have the motivation to work hard we have to be happy, so this can be a vicious circle unless we can identify what we really want. We must then set out to do whatever is needed to ensure we are happy. This is best summed up by Franklin D. Roosevelt who was quoted having said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

Given Fr Frank’s wish for all of you to have true happiness, on behalf of all of us in this community I truly hope that you all take advantage of the opportunities offered to you here and experience the joy a Most of us probably don’t believe we need a formal definition of happiness; we know it when we feel it, and we often use the term to describe a range of positive emotions, including joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude. Most of us probably don’t believe we need a formal definition of happiness; we know it when we feel it, and we often use the term to describe a range of positive emotions, including joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude.

But to understand the causes and effects of happiness, researchers first need to define it. Many of them use the term interchangeably with “subjective well-being,” which they measure by simply asking people to report how satisfied they feel with their own lives and how much positive and negative emotion they’re experiencing. In her 2007 book The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky elaborates, describing happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

That definition resonates with us here at Greater Good: It captures the fleeting positive emotions that come with happiness, along with a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life—and suggests how these emotions and sense of meaning reinforce one another.

Most of us probably don’t believe we need a formal definition of happiness; we know it when we feel it, and we often use the term to describe a range of positive emotions, including joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude.

But to understand the causes and effects of happiness, researchers first need to define it. Many of them use the term interchangeably with “subjective well-being,” which they measure by simply asking people to report how satisfied they feel with their own lives and how much positive and negative emotion they’re experiencing. In her 2007 book The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky elaborates, describing happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

That definition resonates with us here at Greater Good: It captures the fleeting positive emotions that come with happiness, along with a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life—and suggests how these emotions and sense of meaning reinforce one another.

Salesian Education looks to provide. I hope you all feel that this College is a second home that welcomes and is a place that you experience positive relationships and where you are cared for and nurtured. We hope that you go on to become the best young men you can be. I hope each feel that you are loved and know that you are loved simply for who you are.

Having unpacked what happiness is and how it can impact greatly on your education, I pose the following questions to you all. What do you need to do to be happy? Are there things I can do for others that will make me happy? How will I make the most of what Salesian College offers to make me happy? How will you contribute back into that community to make others happy? Or, will you follow the lead of many others in our society and search for your happiness in empty things, or worse still, will you chase your happiness at the expense of somebody else?

I ask these questions as it is only when you know what you really want, and see that education, if done well, can offer opportunities for happiness that you will be motivated to grab those opportunities with both hands and commit to undertake the work necessary to succeed.

I encourage you to think of your education in broader terms, rather than the simple restrictive purpose to get into the course of choice or to get a job. Look for the happiness you can gain from such a rich and broad education offered here at Salesian College.

There are no hidden secrets to obtaining happiness, no short cuts, simply a need to apply yourself, immerse yourself in all that is on offer and maybe, just maybe, you will achieve the goals you set yourself and gain satisfaction and ultimately happiness from it.

I can tell you, however, that happiness demands more than merely obtaining good results. I believe true happiness will only come if we live to give of ourselves for others, if we live in a manner that builds justice and peace in our world, where we accept and celebrate difference of all we meet.

So if we are successful in educating you young men in the Salesian ethos, and we impart the Christian values in which we believe so strongly, then you will take on these challenges and enjoy life making you great leaders. You will come to understand that happiness will not come from wealth or material possessions, nor will it come from position. Rather your happiness and sense of self worth will be formulated on the higher criteria of how you love, and help other people in this life.

Once again I congratulate all the boys who have been acknowledged today, in particular the members of the Class of 2017, and I wish you every success in the next phase of you lives. Finally I ask you to remember the words of Jim Rohn:“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present”. And Valerie Bertinelli: “Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.”

Good luck for the year ahead, and I wish you all every happiness.

Rob Brennan
Principal