Life Skills for an Age of Populist Rage


Populism is everywhere at the minute. It’s particularly pronounced in the rise of Trumpism and Hansonism, but is found on the left, the right and the centre whenever people seek to win over an audience with arguments that confirm the fears, biases and prejudices of that audience but fail to take account of the breadth and complexity of  the issue being addressed. And although I try my...

A doctor, five nuns and the Concorde. An unexpected tale that will warm your heart


I read a delightfully heartwarming story this week. In September 1989 Dr George Lombardi received a phone call. On the other end of the line was a woman wanting to know whether he was the Dr Lombardi who was an infectious disease specialist. She introduced herself as the representative of a world figure and Nobel Laureate who was suspected of having a viral haemorrhagic fever and wanted to know...

Learning the Art of Forgiveness


I have been fortunate to go through most of my life without the need to do much forgiving. Yes there have been exchanges of angry words and disappointments at how I have been treated, but with a few exceptions, nothing that has inflicted deep wounds. nonetheless from those painful episodes where I have needed to forgive this is what I have discovered about forgiveness. 1. Forgiveness is a gift I...

The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating


The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating I live in the space between hope and disappointment. I am a hoper. A few weeks back I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, at the very spot Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and it was profoundly moving. It was a place of hope, a shrine to the possibility that...

Who are the happiest people in the world?


Upon their return from countries with high levels of poverty I often hear people say “they might be poor, but they seem so much happier than us.” It’s a comforting thought for those of us who live with great wealth. But it’s not true. The 2016 World Happiness Report has just been released and it shows that the top 10 countries are all affluent industrialised nations and...

The greatness and the blindness of us all. Reflections on a visit to George Washington’s farm


I am in Virginia, United States of America, for a conference. Two days ago I travelled to the farm and mansion of George Washington, the great military leader who triumphed over the British in the war of independence and who went on to become the first President of United States. The estate is magnificent. Grassy fields and forests overlooking the Potomac River. And Washington himself is...

New Year’s Eve 2016. A Year to Love


I am spending New Year’s Eve on Lord Howe Island with Sandy and some friends. Yesterday I wandered through the Lord Howe Island museum and came across an exhibit that quite moved me. On June 16, 1951 two young men, Tom Payten and Bryant Smythe, set out on a fishing trip. Later that day Tom’s father wrote this in the front of his bible. “Last saw my dearest boy Sabbath 16 on his way fishing...

On Turning Fifty


I turned 50 today. It’s one of the birthdays with a zero in it, which is supposed to invest it with greater significance than any other. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s a good opportunity to reflect. If you had asked the 20-year-old Scott Higgins to describe where I would be, who I would be, and what I would be doing at 50, I’m not sure I would have come remotely close...

It’s all uphill from here. Old people are the happiest of all


Everybody wants to be happy and we often assume that the younger you are the happier you are. But the truth seems to be that happiness increases with age. In the last couple of decades happiness has been studied by researchers across the world.The results are striking. Four variables seem to impact happiness: gender (women report greater life satisfaction than men); personality (extroverts are...

Haters, Adam Goodes & the Elusiveness of Empathy


Life has a way of surprising us. In the last 12 months, as the symptoms of my Parkinsons have become more pronounced, I have experienced a deep generosity of spirit from family, friends and strangers. For many the default response to my disability has been empathy and a desire to help. One might hope for this from those who are close, but I had never expected it from complete strangers. Yet the...


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