9 Life Lessons From a Comedian

The Australian comedian Tim Minchin has made one of the funniest and truly inspirational speeches in history – recorded on video. Check out the video – and laugh your way to great life lessons – or read his advice.

In his speech to graduates at the University of Western Australia, Tim is sharing his view of life. He open up his speech by pointing out that having a degree is great! Degrees help you find meaning where there are non. And according to Tim Minchin there are non. Check out the video here, or read the essence below.

You don’t need to have a dream

If you have something you dream to achieve – go for it! If your dream is big enough it will take you most of your life to achieve, and by the time you achieve it you will understand how meaningless it is, but you will be almost dead – so it won’t matter.

Minchin never really had one of this big dreams, so he advocates “Passionate dedication to the pursuit of short term goals!” Be micro ambitious and work with pride on whatever is in front of you. You never know where you might end up. Be aware that your next worthy pursuit will probably appear in the peripheral. That’s why you should not focus too far ahead, because you might miss what is at the corner of your eye.


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Don’t seek happiness

Happiness is like an orgasm. If you think about it too much, it goes away. Aim to make someone else happy, and you might get some happiness as a side effect.

We did not evolve to be constantly content. Contented Homo-erectus got eaten before passing on their genes.

It’s all luck!

You are lucky to be here. You are incalculably lucky to be borne and incredibly lucky to be brought up by a nice family that helped you to be educated and encouraged you to go to University.

Or if you were  born into a horrible family,  that’s unlucky and you have my sympathy, but you were still lucky! Lucky that you were made of the sort of DNA that went on to make the sort of brain that when placed in a horrible childhood environment made decisions that made you eventually graduate University!

Understanding that you can’t truly take credits for your successes nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate.

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You think, therefore you are. But also you jogg, therefore you sleep, therefore you are not overwhelmed with existential angst. You can’t be can’t and you don’t want to be.

Play a sport, do yoga, pump iron, run, whatever, but take care of your body! You are going to need it! Most of you are going to live to nearly a hundred. And this long luxurious life ahead of you is going to make you depressed. But don’t despair, there is an inverse correlation between depression and exercise.

Be hard on your opinions

A famous quote says that opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this, but I would add that opinions differs significantly from assholes, and that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.

We must think critically and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Most of societies arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge new ones.


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Be a teacher!

Please be a teacher. Teachers are the most admirable people in the world. You don’t have to do it forever, but if you are in doubt of what to do, be an amazing teacher!

Even if you are not a teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas!

Define yourself by what you love

We have a tendency to define ourselves by our opposition to stuff. As a comedian I made a living out of it.

Try to also express your passion for things you love. Be demonstrative and generous in your prays of those you admire. Send thank you cards and standing ovations. Be pro stuff, not just anti stuff.

Respect people with lower power than you

I have in the past made important decisions about people I worked with, based largely on how they treat people less powerful.

I don’t care if you are the most powerful cat in the room. I will judge you based on how you treat people with less power.

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Don’t rush

You don’t need to already know what you are going to do with the rest of your life. Don’t panic. Most people I know that was sure of their career path at 20 are having midlife crisis now.

I said in the beginning of this ramble that life is meaningless. I find it’s absurd the idea of seeking meaning in the set of circumstances that happens to exist after 13.8 billion years of unguided events. Leave it to humans to think the universe has a purpose for them.

However I am not a nihilist, I’m not even a cynic, I’m actually rather romantic. And here’s my idea of romance: You will soon be dead.

Life will sometimes seem long and tough, you will sometimes be happy and sometimes sad. And then you will be old, and then dead.

There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is to fill it! Life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can. Taking pride in whatever you are doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running, being enthusiastic, and then there is love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art,and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing.

It is one incredibly exciting thing; this one meaningless life of yours. Good luck!

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