Mendl Movement #5 - Hugh Van Cuylenburg


Hugh’s wealth of experience in his life has led to an acute awareness of what inherently builds happiness. Through his key pillars - gratitude, empathy and mindfulness, he has championed well-being through a range of mediums, impacting both youth and adults alike. The beautifully eloquent founder of the Resilience Project sat down with Mendl co-founder Mark, to discuss the copious challenges of the year, the on-going lockdown and what we can all do to build positivity into our routine.

Mendl Movement Journal Hugh Van Cuylenburg

"Be really kind to yourself. Know that it is ok, and very normal, to be flat right now. If you're feeling depressed and anxious - that just shows your normal, because that's a normal response to an incredibly stressful situation"


M.L - "We sit down on the first day of Melbourne's second lockdown. How are you going with it?"

H.V.C - "Well I've got two young kids, and I think a friend said to me once, when you have kids it's like long days and short years. So for me this year has flown. As hard as it has been, it's been really quick. On the topic of mental health, I've always been very blessed, I am a very happy person - despite this I have still found myself struggling at certain points. I think that's because our support networks have been taken away. We talk about how important support networks are in mental health but they have just been stripped back completely with these ongoing restrictions." 
Mendl Movement Journal Hugh Van Cuylenburg

M.L - "What are some of the things that you'll try to focus on in regards to your own well-being?"

H.V.C - "I know there are things that I can do that just make me happier and have better mental health. Everyone is different, but there are certain things everyone can do, that when you practice them, you feel happier - no matter who you are or what you're going through. In fact I've seen this stuff work with people going through unbelievably difficult things. I'd love to take you through them. I think the best thing about them is they're really easy and don't take up too much time."

"So many of us spend time thinking about what the world is going to look like in 6 months. We have very little control over that. The more time worrying about things we can't control the more anxious and stressed we are going to feel. If you're paying attention to right now it is a lot easier to feel calm"


H.V.C - "The ones that we talk about at The Resilience Project are gratitude, empathy and mindfulness :

Gratitude - the simple act of finishing your day by reflecting on what went well for you. No matter how ordinary your day is, just writing down what went well for you.

Empathy / Kindness - Doing things for other people. Being compassionate and thinking about other people before you think about yourself is a really powerful thing to do.

Mindfulness - Everyone talks about mindfulness or meditation. You don't have to sit down and do a meditation every day - if you can find two to five minutes every day where you just stop and pay attention to what you can hear. The more time you spend paying attention to what's happening around you, the more calm you'll feel."
Mendl Movement Journal Hugh Van Cuylenburg

M.L - "What about your perspective of the importance of conversations between mates in your own life?"

H.V.C - "They're huge. I noticed a huge difference in my well-being when I stopped playing cricket. So I played cricket for a long time. Not at the elite level that Mitch plays his footy, but I played for years. Training every Tuesday, Thursday and playing every Saturday. And I struggled for a bit when I stopped playing. I was thinking that I simply missed cricket, or it's that I miss the boys. The more I thought about it, I realised that when I went to cricket training straight after work - I would often just vent about something. We would have conversations about what was happening in our lives and you'd be able to talk about it in a really casual setting. You might be waiting to bat, or doing a fielding drill but you're always talking. And then you'd get home after having had these really healthy conversations with other males and you'd be in a different frame of mind."

"So conversations are massive. They don't have to be hugely deep and meaningful. They don't have to be life-changing. They can just be airing a simple issue you had during the day. But that also often leads to a much more profound conversation about how you're travelling"

H.V.C - And it's been hard. Men have their conversations over beers at the pub all the time. And we cant do that at the moment. So it's particularly important that we have the courage to reach out. It's no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society, and unfortunately we are a sick society at the moment. It's ok to not be alright at the moment, just do the things that you know are good for you."

Mendl Movement Journal Hugh Van Cuylenburg

Video and production by Neon Sheep Films
Photography by Daniel Johnson