Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist



Catherine Cole

Year 6, Chelsea Primary School

JOY. These three letters matter most to me. Joy is an emotion some people take for granted but not me.  For me, joy is the thing that makes my life amazing. I've learnt that a little bit of happiness needs to be treasured for times when you are feeling anything but and I would like to explain why.

My experiences have taught me that being able to see the sunshine through dark clouds is the most important thing of all. You see, sport is my life. The exhilaration of kicking a goal peaks my happiness. However, I have very fragile bones and can't count how many times I have broken fingers or injured myself - and that's just in the past year! This has meant I have been out of action and unable to indulge in the thing that gives me the most joy. For six to twelve weeks at a time, I can't participate. During my most recent finger break, I felt completely broken. My parents, teachers, family and friends worked hard to make me see and feel joy again, and I realised in this moment, how privileged I was to experience joy at all because some people rarely do.

Joy is not an emotion that comes natural to everyone and everyone has a different idea of what joy is. For my best friend, pure joy is experienced eating KitKats - I personally prefer Mars Bars!.Joy is so unique, but at the same time everyone who feels it, loves it. If this was the same formula for people, and we all embraced their unique qualities, imagine how much better we would get along?

Now imagine a world where everyone was happy. Wars wouldn't start, innocent lives would be saved. Depression, anxiety and self-harm wouldn't be so prolific. You wouldn't be wasting time worrying about that maths test or basketball tryout coming up, instead you'd be celebrating that you even had the opportunity to try out or take the test. Happiness would be as automatic as breathing.

Even though this piece is about joy, I want you to appreciate the role of sadness. Without sadness, you wouldn't recognise happiness. Feeling sad sometimes is as important as feeling happy. Feeling a little sorry for yourself, shoving your face with chocolate (which I really enjoy!) and crying are all perfect releases of emotion. I like to think that crying is just sadness exiting my body. So, if you're feeling down instead of pretending you're happy and bottling up your emotions, let it out. Talking to a parent, a therapist or even writing it down feels much better. I definitely know if I didn't talk with my parents and teachers about things making me sad, I would be in a much worse position now. Did you know that recent statistics show that 72,859 people in Victoria have had mental health treatment(2) and 77.1 percent found it effective?(1) So remember, sadness is as important as happiness, as long as you can get it out.

Without happiness the world would be a dark place but without sadness there wouldn't be happiness. My experiences have made me really notice when I experience joy. This might be with a friend who just told me a hilarious joke or when, after a rainy footy game, I pull my muddy boots off and wrap a warm blanket around me. And so, my take home message to you, the reader, is this: Every time you have a spark of happiness, treasure it for as long as you can because joy is what matters most.


(1) https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/mental-health/priorities-and-transformation/mental-health-annual-report

(2) https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia/report-contents/summary