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Frankston Rotary Report on Victor Perton's Speech

Frankston Rotary President Luke Provis in "The Tide" May 2021

I would like to congratulate Barry Thomas on the fabulous booking of our guest speaker last Thursday night. Over the years we have had some wonderful presentations by all sorts of people telling us stories that made us laugh, some made us cry, some made us wish we were there when the presenter achieved such a wonderful feat. Very few, though, have had us all so engaged and involved as Victor Perton did at our meeting at The International. 

Victor Perton is the Chief Optimism Officer for the Centre for Optimism. He is the author of "Optimism: The How and Why" and “The Case for Optimism: The Optimists Voices. 

Victor explained that the purpose of the Centre for Optimism is to help everyone, and anyone become more optimistic and to foster “realistic and infectiously optimistic leaders.” He has described his experience as including stints as Commissioner to the Americas, 18 years as a parliamentarian, practicing as a barrister, mediator, arbitrator, businessman. He was also a Senior Engagement Adviser to the Australian G20 presidency focused on the G20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors Meetings & the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit described by the Prime Minister as “the most important gathering Australia has ever hosted.” Given this lifetime experience one wonders how he could have any optimistic thoughts at all, but he absolutely does! 

Victor tells us that there are 3 qualities of Aussies, generally. These are: 

1. Egalitarianism. 

2. Self-effacing humour. 

3. No ‘bullshit’ plain speaking. 

It is these qualities blended with the ‘she’ll be right mate’ attitude which sets us apart from so many other nationalities. Most of us recognise this trait, but it can also be reflected in another truism, as Victor tells us of the quote, made famous by T. S. Eliot: All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well and how this can be a contemporary description of optimism. Things will turn out in the end. 

Optimism is different for all it, can be religious, the key trait with healthy longevity. It’s the predictor that you will recover from angina, heart disease, anxiety, cancer. Alzheimer’s can be slowed by optimism and Optimists sleep better; more sleep makes you optimistic. Victor certainly convinced me that optimism is an expectation that good things will happen and that things will work out in the end.

Victor believes that we can all laugh like an optimist. It is believed that optimistic people are better able to balance their emotions more effectively and that they more easily bounce back from some of the many stresses that life offers. There is also good evidence that pessimism damages the body placing stress upon the cardiovascular system, raising blood pressure increasing levels of inflammation and worsening metabolic function. Optimism is strongly linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular events. 

In terms of how we can all turn ourselves into Optimists, Victor recommended that we all consider writing a ‘Gratitude Journal’, recording three great things that happened during the day. Writing these three things and reading them the next day, first thing in the morning. This apparently helps us in improving our optimism and also helps us stop ‘sweating the small stuff’ and helps stop us worrying about things over which we have no control. 

As I mentioned earlier it was a terrific presentation, many elements of which I too can incorporate in my day-to-day life. 

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