MECCA MUSE

Take notes: these are Turia Pitt’s top tips to practising gratitude and achieving happiness

THERE AREN’T MANY PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD WHO HAVE COME CLOSER TO DEATH, AND, AFTER MIRACLE SURVIVAL AND GRUELLING REHABILITATION, HAVE PIROUETTED OUT OF IT WITH SUCH AN IMMENSE AND CONTAGIOUS THIRST FOR LIFE THAN TURIA PITT.

One of the world’s most inspirational people (and now author, cover star, influential speaker, life coach, role model and mother), Pitt, a mining engineer and athlete, then 24-years-old, was caught in a roaring crossfire while competing in a 100 kilometre ultra-marathon in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. Suffering burns to 65 percent of her body, Pitt’s survival was truly against all odds.

Nine years later, Pitt’s mission to help anyone and everyone become happier, more successful, and undeniably grateful in non-superhuman ways continues. Her candour, clarity and humour are just as inspiring as her immeasurable strength (although she prefers the term “consistency”), and after our recent interview with Pitt we were left feeling elated. Here’s a taste of what we learnt.

NEARING DEATH MAY SPARK IMMENSE GRATITUDE, BUT SHE’S STILL HUMAN (AND, ALAS, SWEATS THE SMALL STUFF)

“It sounds horrific, but when I was trapped by the fire and literally burning alive, I had one distinct thought: Michael. My beautiful, humble, gracious and self-effacing partner,” shares Pitt on the immediate impact the experience had on her perception of life. “I felt cheated by life and how we wouldn’t be able to do all of the amazing things and dreams we had as a couple.” Laughing at the potential cheesiness of her following statement, Pitt continued: “I am truly grateful for every day I get to spend next to my man and I am seriously looking forward to growing old with him.”

“Having said that,” she added, not one to romanticise her reality, “of course I nag at him to take the bins out, get irritated when he doesn’t make the bed and truly detest the fact that he opens a second tub of yoghurt even though there is one open ALREADY IN THE FRIDGE. But, I’m happy we are at a place where an unmade bed is the biggest problem we face.”

Audacious in her manner, Pitt is by no means one to hide or glamorise the nuances of everyday; “I am a mere mortal and thus weak and fallible. I get annoyed, irritated, stressed and cranky, often all of the above before 7am.” Her answer to overcoming this is practising gratitude; “becoming a barefoot yogi, bathing in crystal light…” she jokes—but in her own practise, she keeps it simple, thinking of three things she’s grateful for in that very moment. “By practising gratitude,” she explains, “you’re consciously searching for what you have in your life to be grateful for, you’re focusing on the positives, and that in turns helps you develop a more positive mindset.”

MOTHERHOOD IS ALL ENCOMPASSING—AND OF ALL HER TITLES, ‘MUM’ IS THE ONE SHE RELATES TO MOST

Having taken on more than one would think a human could (her website lists a never-ending sequence of accomplishments), for Pitt, it’s motherhood that trumps all. “Being a parent of a toddler and a baby is pretty much all encompassing, so at the moment, ‘Mum’ (from her list of titles) is the one I respond to most.” Quite literally, she jokes, as it’s the word she hears the most. “In the shower, on the toilet, making breakfast, in my sleep,” she laughs.

“I always describe motherhood as being contextual,” the survivor continues, adding her signature sense of authenticity. “Some days are for sure magical, incredible, delightful and other days… I’m looking at my watch thinking ‘IT’S ONLY 7:30 AM HOW WILL I GET THROUGH THIS DAY??’.” Pitt tries to savour the beautiful moments, but, will openly accept the moments that aren’t as such—it’s how she’s gotten through the past year.

ON THAT NOTE; GETTING THROUGH THE PAST YEAR (AND TOUGH TIMES BEFORE AND AFTER)

“It’s a crap time,” she admits. “Your crap time may be better than someone else’s, or it may be worse. But, however you want to spin it, a tough time is a tough time. Accept it.” Not one to temper it with an ‘at least…’, Pitt forges the route of plain and honest acceptance. “It’s amazing what our minds will do when we drop the facade that is ‘Everything’s OK’.”

Then, she’ll change her focus.

“Ask yourself ‘what would make today great?’.” Going for a walk, seeing a friend, treating yourself to new skincare, or baking, perhaps. “Think of what your ‘something great’ is in the morning, look forward to it in the day, and make sure you do it. You’ll feel a zillion times better about your day if you’re focusing on a positive event, and since our lives are comprised of days, it makes sense to make each day a good one.”

HAPPINESS MIGHT NOT BE A RIDICULOUS ASPIRATION: THESE TIPS WILL HELP

Pitt’s latest non-fiction release, Happy (and Other Ridiculous Aspirations), is the fourth in her repertoire, and deep-dives into the achievability of happiness and the various paths towards it. As she discusses in the book and with us, happiness isn’t always a given, and not feeling it all the time, as she describes, is a “valid, human, and normal experience.” “I think a lot of us have this idea that if we don’t feel happy or positive or motivated or productive or upbeat all the time, that there must be something wrong with us… but it’s okay to feel angry or sad, or frustrated or disappointed.

”As to whether happiness is a ‘ridiculous aspiration’, she continues, it’s not so straightforward. “We never quite reach the ‘Happiness Train Station’… some days we are happy, some days less so.” In saying that, she explains, “there’s lots we can do and implement in our lives to help us be happier. We can focus on amplifying happy moments, we can practise gratitude, be present with our loved ones, learn to love ourselves and try and be a good human.”

Take notes: “There’s so much shit in our world that makes us feel bad about ourselves. So prioritise and do whatever it is that makes you feel good about yourself. Get a mani-pedi, go for a surf, cook a delicious omelette for breakfast, catch up with your mates, buy and wear that red lipstick.”

“Oh, and one more thing,” she adds, knowing she could probably go on forever (and we’d gladly listen). “Have a think about how you feel before you do a quick scroll through social media, and then check in with how you feel after. If scrolling makes you feel less-than, worthless or not good enough – may I kindly advise that you diversify your feed?”

For those who haven’t already read it, Happy is the perfect book to dip into over the holiday break, and will help kick off a new year of joy, gratitude, and self-love. Learn more about it here.