Finding your spark will bring you more meaning and joy, promises parenting expert.
Best-selling author and award-winning journalist Tanith Carey, LEH 1978-1980, who has written 10 parenting books returned to school on 18 November, to give the eighth talk in our Remarkable Women Lecture series.
She told the audience: "A spark is an activity that gives you joy and energy. It's the one thing you just love doing, and that you lose yourself in because you find it easier. It is something you are naturally drawn to, and you would do it, even if no one asked you to do it."
She recalls how she first discovered her own spark while she was at LEH: "One of my best moments at LEH was getting a prize for English in my first year," she said. "Now, I have done a lot of things in my life - as a journalist, a foreign correspondent, an author. But despite everything, getting that book - with its beautifully embossed LEH crest on the front - is still one of my favourite memories. And sometimes I look back and think about how and why I got it."
Despite the importance of having that sense of purpose and fulfillment in life, very few people talk about what their spark might be. But she warned that you ignore it at your peril: "Research has shown that when children find their spark, there are positive consequences. They want to go to school more. They more likely want to be healthier and fitter. They want to volunteer more and make the world a better place. Overall, they have a better sense of purpose. They are less likely to experience depression. They have a keener sense of direction in their lives. They feel on a path to a more hopeful future. They are kinder to others. They feel better about themselves. They know why they are important. They don't look for more damaging ways to look special."
She added: "If your daughter can find her spark, I promise you her life will have more meaning and joy. If she finds it now, she will never look back and say: 'I wish I had'."
It's important to cultivate that spark in our children. She described the key childhood moments for film director Steven Speilberg, actress Emilia Clarke, inventor Sir James Dyson and environmental activist Greta Thunberg when their spark was recognised and championed by a parent.
Left uncultivated, the spark can be extinguished by the mounting social pressure to conform and be perfect. So she advises that the best way to help your daughter find fulfillment is to ask her directly: "What is it you are doing when your life feels the most meaningful to you? What do you do even if no one asks you to do it? What activities can you completely lose yourself in? What are you doing in those moments when life feels the richest and the fullest?"
All proceeds from the Remarkable Women Lecture will go to the LEH Bursary Fund. Please stay tuned for details of the next speaker in the series.
By Susanna Frayn - Alumnae Officer
- LEH Alumnae