Yee Liu Williams
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13 March, 2018

Genevieve Boast, founder of Beyond Human Stories, launched her new book Tough Bliss: restorying life in the London centre of Initiatives of Change on 7 March. Boast and Euan Smith, husband and wife team, delivered a thought provoking, interactive and entertaining presentation on some of the book’s nuggets of wisdom. The evening offered an enlightening snapshot of the book's core conundrum of learning from life’s tough tests.

Hosting the evening, Michael Smith, freelance journalist and business author, asked: 'How can you have a bliss that is tough?’ Her book, he said, combines autobiographical narrative, philosophical wisdom and how-to manual in a compelling way.

Euan Smith, a senior executive in the corporate broadcasting industry, told a metaphorical story of The 72nd Monkey. In a scientific experiment, electrical and water shocks prevented monkeys from reaching bananas at the top of a ladder. On average 1 in 72 monkeys had the tenacity to get past the obstacles to claim the prize.

'Are you going to be the 72nd monkey in your organisation or are you going to let them tell you that they've tried it before?' Smith challenged. His entertaining delivery captured the parallel of life's reality of learnt behaviour and environmental conditioning which prevent us reaching our goals. Instead of accepting the situation, we can take control and our 'life stories can change'.

'Life is a complete journey of exploration and adventure,' Boast mused. She shared extracts of her life story as an example of 'restorying' life, moving from 'expediency to a life of integrity'. She invited everyone in the audience to delve into their 'real story'—the one that sits behind the masks and roles we have been taught to wear. 'Beyond the masks we wear, do you know who you are?’ She asked us to reflect on this, urging us to be open to the unexpected and where it can lead.

She highlighted her struggle with the question: 'When did I first become a liar?’ She acknowledged life might be easier 'if you play the game' but 'ends up being a dangerous story'. As a child, 'I didn't understand that when I told the truth, grownups didn't always like it.' She observed: 'We are betraying ourselves when we are lying' and we become 'disconnected' to our true being.

Aged 17, she had feelings of disconnection, as the only way ‘to get power’, during rebellious teenage years: days of sex, drugs and gangs. She found herself in the back of a police car and in a cell for shoplifting. 'It takes panic to a different level,' she recalled. A policeman visited her cell, telling her: 'You are worth so much more than this.' She had never met him before or since, she said. But it was a defining moment that changed her life. From then on she decided to live a life of integrity.

The evening demonstrated that the Tough Bliss approach has universal appeal in personal development and at a deeper level for those stuck in patterns of destructive behaviour.

Boast ended with a final question: 'What am I here to give and get?' From understanding why we are on our journeys in the first place, to listening to our inner voice and intuition, we are tested by life's challenges to 'restory' our weaknesses and fears. The ultimate goal is to recognize and embrace the many tough life decisions in serving our own humanness. By taking first steps to change ourselves, the more universal connections can trigger the ‘we’ around us. By so doing everyone has the power to positively influence their own health and well-being to ‘restory' their life and that of others.


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