06 Jul
Happiness Diaries Episode 20: Mitch Hendersen (Sydney, Australia)

I wouldn't say I'm happy. 

That's not to say I'm unhappy. Being 'happy' implies permanence. The paradigm is you either ARE a happy person, with life passing from one *terrific* day to the next; or you AREN'T. I think this is flawed. I don't resonate with either of these

"Our sense of happiness is so brittle, it can be destroyed simply by asking whether or not it exists" - Matthew Inman

I feel positive emotions. Often. Joy, Bliss, Pride, Love.

But I also feel negative ones. Grief, Heartbreak,  anxiety.

They're all fleeting; and I'm thankful that I feel positive ones a lot more frequently than the negative ones, but by definition, I'm not happy.


I do things that I find meaningful.

I read and write a lot for my research, and not because it makes me smile from ear-to-ear everyday when I get up at 5:30 in the morning, or because it'll get me a better job one day (although that's a bonus :D). I do it because I feel compelled to do it. It drives me.

I also play full-contact sport against guys twice my size with every intention of hurting me... and I love it. Not because it gives me 'happiness' but because I'm fiercely passionate about it, and it gives me a purpose within that team.

Often these things in fact evoke negative emotions. Pain, disappointment, despair... they don't make me happy; but when I'm doing them I lose sense of time and space. I'm totally engrossed.

I want to do things that provide value for those around me and those who come next, like so many have done before me. I'm riding on their coat tails, and one day I hope people want to and can ride on mine.

I'm not happy or unhappy, I'm too fascinated by the things I'm trying to do to notice.

Mitch is one of the trainers and video coaches for the Australian men's rugby 7's team while he completes his PhD in Physical Sciences. Originally from a small town about an hour out of Sydney, he now lives with his brother near the downtown core. Following his school days he spent a few years bouncing between France  and the UK competing in professional rugby, with a break in the middle to complete an undergrad degree back home. While it may not have been his big ticket to fame and fortune, it paid the bills allowing him to explore and experience living abroad while playing sport and probably opened his mind (and a few doors no doubt!) to his current career path. Mitch has something I'm supremely jealous of - a career and hobby that he is supremely passionate about. Fueled by his passion and drive he sets personal and career goals extremely high, to the point that most people would deem them unreachable, but he is someone that has the work ethic, brains, and natural talent to achieve anything he sets in his sights. I can't wait to seem him working the sidelines for a professional sports franchise in the future. 

I met Mitch on a Sail Croatia trip in 2015 and spent a week with sun, beer, and fun hopping from Split to Dubrovnik and back. Since then we didn't communicate until a few months ago when I asked him what the weather was like in his area in the winter, and while his answer on the weather didn't thrill me, without hesitation he told me to fire him a message and I could stay with him whenever I got there! Spending a very long weekend in Sydney with him and his brother, the Henderson beauts taught me the basics of NRL vs AFL while watching the first State of Origin match (a huge deal on the East side of Australia) before Mitch took me out on the town to some incredible places. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sydney and a lot of it had to do with his over the top hospitality, although after how rough I felt after a night out with him I might have to take a while before having a repeat!


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