SIOBHAN MOYLAN, NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA NETWORK
AUGUST 31, 2015
PASSIONATE about your profession? It’s good for your health
We might find it at work or perhaps it is a hobby, but our passion, or calling, or purpose in life, helps us tap into our talent and find fulfilment. Purpose keeps our minds nimble as we age and allows us to feel that our life has greater meaning.
Passions are also linked to many positive health outcomes including better mental health, less depression, happiness, satisfaction, personal growth, self-acceptance and better sleep.
In this series we ask four passionate people how they sought and secured genuine satisfaction and whether they experience the health benefits that neuroscientists have cited in relation to the pursuit of happiness.
THE DRUMMER — Lloyd Gyi
Lloyd Gyi is a drummer in high demand. He’s a singing drummer who has played alongside artists like Lionel Richie, Darren Hayes, The Atlantics, Tina Arena and Jimmy Barnes (to name a few). He has been teaching privately and in schools around Sydney for nearly 30 years. But Lloyd says that he didn’t consciously choose to be a drummer — “Drumming chose me … then I just got really good at it”.
When Lloyd was a boy, he and his family lived together in a one-bedroom home in Burma and used to bed down under a shared mosquito net. Times were not easy but there was always music. Lloyd’s father was a respected man who unwittingly had a huge influence on Lloyd’s music career. His father’s love of all things technical meant that there was a radio in the house, which Lloyd ponders back on and says, “Many years later I realised that that radio could have had us killed, I mean, we could hear what was happening in other parts of the word which the regime didn’t want us to know.”
But being born in 1964, it also meant he got to hear The Beatles for the first time. “Whenever our parents’ friends or work associates would come around, I would have a song prepared, complete with a dance routine … I had no idea it was going to translate into something later on”.
The family moved to Australia in 1971 and it’s here in Australia that he first saw television. “The first image that came out at us was the band The Sweet and the song was Ballroom Blitz which had the most infections drum beat.” Lloyd ran to the kitchen drawer, grabbed a couple of wooden spoons and started beating the chair in front of him. And that was that.
The Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz inspired the young Lloyd to take up the drums.
Fate forced a change
When asked if he could imagine doing anything else, Lloyd says that yes, he can, because he once did, and he wasn’t happy. In 1998 Lloyd was hit by a car and ended up in hospital. It was a hit and run. “My partner at the time could see I wasn’t happy and she told me I wasn’t the same person she fell in love with, I just wasn’t myself”. The accident ended up being a blessing in disguise — it drove him away from waiting tables and other odd jobs and back into music. “It was as if God intervened and said you’re not listening to yourself and just gave me a slap,” he says, “I had to reassess who I was”.
Of those he’s played with
Sunday mornings were about Lionel Richie for Lloyd and his younger sister. Laughing, Lloyd says, “I have a treasured photo of the two of us dancing in the lounge room in a hot suburban home in Perth, perspiring, and we’re just lost in this world, dancing to The Commodores and then later on I meet this guy and he’s actually a legendary man”.
Humble and reticent to speak about the names he’s played alongside, Lloyd offers: “Lionel came and shook each one of our hands individually that day … he looked into my eyes and said, ‘Thank you Lloyd’ and he didn’t need to do that … he was just so gracious … he also oozes that magnetism and sexuality that a lot of people try and want to have, he just has it.”
Lionel Richie “oozes magnetism and sexuality that a lot of people try and want to have, he just has it.”
It’s a no-brainer
So is being inspired by your work actually beneficial for your brain? Richard Hill is a well-known Sydney psychotherapist and author. His books include Choose Hope and How the ‘Real World’ is Driving Us Crazy!
Hill says that loving what you do is good for your brain on a number of levels. “That wonderful feeling of being keen and even eager to get to work is what we call a ‘toward’ emotion that is fired by seeking, play, caring and passion. Most importantly there is a sense of positive anticipation which is connected with the neurotransmitter dopamine.”
When you feel safe, Hill says, you also dampen down your fears in an area called the amygdala with a neurotransmitter called serotonin.
“Even better, you focus your attention and raise your awareness of the work ahead with neurotransmitters called noradrenaline and acetylcholine.”
If you look on the label of most antidepressant drugs these are the very neurotransmitters that the drug is meant to increase.
“So, take a pill or find a passion for your work?” he says.
The mantra is hard work
Lloyd’s Dad was his hero in many ways, and the wisdom in his words still resonate.
“He used to say to me, it doesn’t matter what you do, you have got to love it or don’t do it. I don’t mind if you’re a street sweeper, but do it well and do it because you love it.” This is a mantra that Lloyd is constantly sharing with his students.
Lloyd uses The Williams sisters, Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson as examples of people who worked hard for their ‘talent’.
“It’s vey easy to say it’s in their blood, no it isn’t, they worked hard. Where I grew up, we didn’t have anything like the dole or an easy life. If you don’t work you won’t have a roof over your head, simple … You don’t ever think about it — you just go out and do it.”