Jimi Hunt is living more awesome. And his goal is to have you live more awesome too.
Which is awesome.
But it wasn’t always like that. In case you have been living under a rock, you may not have heard about Jimi’s story. Not so long ago, Jimi was sad, scared, fat and broke. His marriage was all but over. He couldn’t leave the house. He felt completely and utterly alone.
Jimi had depression.
For the twenty per cent of New Zealander’s estimated to suffer from depression at some point in their life, the hopelessness and feeling of depression is difficult to explain. For Jimi, he likens it to wearing a lead vest that can’t be taken off. And like so many people with depression, Jimi thought he was the only person who felt that way.
“People don’t like people with depression’, Jimi says. ‘Or at least, that’s what I thought.’
With nothing to lose, Jimi found himself reading about depression, which helped him identify that he needed a goal.
“Having a goal can really help people with depression. So I decided to go on an adventure to get me happy, and fit.”
Having a plan like this, most of us would probably sign up for a marathon or join a gym. Not Jimi. His adventure? “I decided to take my lilo and swim the length of the Waikato River – all 425 kilometres of it.”
Um …. okaaaaaay.
Several Facebook posts later, twenty-one thousand followers keeping tabs on his epic journey, publicity from TV, radio and magazines, and off he set. Hundreds of acts of kindness from complete strangers, the harsh physical strain on his body, and the discovery of a floating corpse were just some of the things Jimi encountered from one end of the Waikato to the other.
“I realised that people are inherently good, and want to help each other out,” explained Jimi. “I received so much love and support, and even though speaking out about my depression was my biggest fear, I didn’t lose one friend or one single bit of business.”
Buoyed by the response he received, Jimi started the charity Live More Awesome with his friend Dan. Live More Awesome is a charity with three missions… To raise awareness for mental health, to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and to inspire people to ask for help.
The first part is ridiculously important. As Jimi says, “Most of us out there don’t seem to even realise that we have mental health until something starts to go horribly wrong. We all realise that we have physical health, but the mental part usually falls by the wayside. People need to be more aware of mental health but that’s usually quite a hard conversation to have.”
“If you want to change a stigma, you need to have conversations about it, those hard ones we just talked about. Millions and millions of them… And when it’s a topic that no one wants to talk about, like mental health, then you have to trick the media and people into talking about it, you have to make it interesting and engaging.”
So they built the World’s Biggest Waterslide, gaining popularity, media attention, and worldwide recognition. With coverage on the Today Show in the US, the Huffington post, 8 million views on Youtube and countless articles in magazines, papers and blogs around the world, Jimi and Dan got people talking about mental health in a positive and uplifting way. Now, says Jimi, they need some new ideas and new ways to start new conversations, over and over again.
People asking for Jimi’s help led him to write a new book, A Guide To Live More Awesome. A simple, no-nonsense guide for anybody who wants to change their current situation and live more awesome. He outlines the three steps to a more awesome life: number one is self awareness; we need to actually look at ourselves, our lives, our relationships and our mental health.
Number two is a step he calls ‘Brutal Fuckin Honesty’.
“The swearing is necessary,” he says, “as there’s a massive difference between being ‘honest’ with yourself and being ‘brutally fuckin honest’.” He even did a TedX talk on that very topic.
Then there’s step three, change. Change doesn’t come from one decision, but many many decisions repeated.
That’s one of Jimi’s biggest messages - that of hope; that we can all change our current situation; that he managed to and that others have managed to as well.
“That’s the thing, we all think that we’re alone, suffering alone, but we’re not, there are plenty of others in exactly the same boat, plenty of people out there that understand and can help, plenty of other people that have made the same changes that we can all make now,” he says.
Live More Awesome. Words to live by.
Villainesse have three copies of Jimi Hunt’s book “A Guide to Live More Awesome” to give away. For your chance to win, email firstname.lastname@example.org with an example of how you could live your life more awesome.