The launch yesterday of a book about emotional wellbeing is part of an Avondale academic’s “audacious” plan to lift the life of 10 million people.
Live More Happy “represents what I want to do with my life,” said Dr Darren Morton, Lead Researcher in the Lifestyle Research Centre and Course Convenor of Postgraduate Courses in Lifestyle Medicine at Avondale College of Higher Education, “to share information that can help you live a fuller, better, more abundant life.” This passion has helped shape Morton’s personal mission, which he shared publicly for the first time during the launch in Avondale Libraries this past Thursday (February 8). “I believe everyone—I don’t care how young you are, I don’t care how old you are—everyone needs to know what is contained in this book.”
As a teaser, Morton referred briefly to a few strategies—all backed by scientific evidence—for lifting your mood and your life. How you feel affects how you heal, motion creates emotion, food feeds your mood, giving is living. He pitches content in the book in a positive way. “I never tell people what they’re doing wrong. I simply say, ‘This is what the science says you can do to feel better.’ Why wouldn’t you want to know that?” His challenge: “Test it, see if it works.”
Morton’s interest in emotional wellbeing began about 15 years ago, five years before the publication of Live More Happy’s predecessor, Seven Secrets for Feeling Fantastic. “I always felt impressed, a deep prodding, to go back and do that book better,” said Morton, who is now also a founding fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine. “To build in the science.”
Over the past decade, neuroscience, positive psychology and lifestyle medicine have exploded as areas of research and healthcare. Live More Happy incorporates this new information. While the book maintains Seven Secrets’ easy-to-read and accessible style, it includes more than 200 references.
Morton’s mate, Dr Jason Hinze, the Secondary Course Convenor at Avondale, changed tack, sharing testimonies about Morton’s character from former students. One, who asked Morton to be the best man at his wedding, described his then lecturer’s “positive, happy nature and attitude to make the world a better place” as inspiring. “The impact of just how far reaching his impact has been will be something that will continue to live on through the legacy of the teachers he has taught and the down-to-earth wisdom written in the pages of his books. This is because how he lives out his life is consistent with what he professes to be true.”
“Isn’t this a book launch?” asked Hinze. “We’re not launching Darren Morton on the world are we, or are we? . . . . I guess that’s the beauty of this book.” Hinze also referred to Morton’s mission to lift 10 million lives. “That sounds like a pretty big goal, but for all of us who know Darren and the God he serves, there’s no doubt in my mind.”
Morton dedicates Live More Happy to wife Sarah and children Olivia, Elijah and Caleb. Elijah presented the first official reading of the book, a passage about a bedtime conversation between father and the then toddler that became a game. Darren would tell Elijah, “Daddy loves you,” and Elijah would respond, “Why?”. Darren would then give a different answer—“Because you are so good at climbing trees”—each time. But he soon realised the inadequacy of his responses and instead replied, “Because you’re mine and there’s nothing you can do, good or bad, to change that.”
The passage ends with this: “I hold the worldview that says you belong to something greater than yourself, and this belonging makes you immeasurably valuable. Your life has meaning. For me, knowing this is an absolute game changer that lifts every aspect of my life and enables me to truly flourish. I would love for you to discover that, too.”
Brenton Stacey is Public Relations officer for Avondale College of Higher Education.