Turia Pitt’s lessons for a happy, healthy life

Nine lessons in health, wellbeing and creating a powerful mindset from bestselling author, two-time Ironman and humanitarian Turia Pitt.

Photo of Turia Pitt

You may know Turia Pitt for the courageous way she overcame life-changing injuries. In 2011, while competing in a 100-kilometre ultramarathon in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, she was caught in a grassfire and badly burnt. After suffering full thickness burns to 65 per cent of her body, Turia was placed in a medically induced coma for a month and was not expected to survive. 

Since that day she has undergone more than 200 surgeries and has gone on to become the leading authority on the ‘magic of mindset’. She’s also an author, motivational speaker, philanthropist and paid ambassador for health and beauty supplement brand Kynd. We asked the 33-year-old mother of two to share some of the most significant lessons she’s learnt along the way. 

1. Happiness lives in small, everyday moments

“When writing my book Happy (and other ridiculous aspirations) 

I learnt that happiness is an outlook, not an outcome. There’s no final destination. The most important thing I learnt was that it’s not so much the big things that we think are going to make us happy, like getting a new car or getting married. We’ve got to be able to find happiness in our everyday lives and the little moments. It might be my kids playing on the carpet, or my cup of coffee, or the exciting work I’m doing that day.”

2. You can create a foundation for happiness

“While happiness can be found in small moments, you do have to set up a good base for your own happiness. You’ve got to eat well, look after yourself, get enough sleep, and move your body. Then, on top of that foundation, I find if I start my day off with a grateful mindset, pull out and focus on certain things, I’ve got more energy, enthusiasm and happiness for the day ahead. Because we can always focus on the bad things – this person was supposed to send this email and I was supposed to get it and didn’t. To a certain extent we are wired to focus on the negatives, so it takes effort to change that and instead think about what is going well. What is working? Who are you grateful for in your life? Who in your team has been really amazing?” 

3. Lean in to all of your emotions

“I’m mostly at peace with what happened to me, but that’s not to say that I don’t have bad days or get down occasionally after I have a surgery. Sometimes if I can’t open a jar of sauce [Turia lost all the fingers on her right hand, and two fingers on her left after the fire], I get angry and annoyed, but that’s okay. There’s all this focus on being happy and positive and upbeat, which are really great emotions, but you can’t have those without feeling sad or disappointed or hurt or angry sometimes, too. You can’t cherrypick your emotions. You’ve got to accept and acknowledge all of them.”

4. Wearing your heart on your sleeve can inspire others to do the same 

“People are a lot more open about their mental health these days, but we’ve still got a long way to go. I just try to be open about my emotions and how I’m feeling, and I hope that empowers other people to do the same.”

5. Speak to yourself as you would to your children or your best friend

“We’re our own worst critics and our inner voice can be really nasty, but over the past few years I’ve gotten better at speaking to myself with more compassion and empathy. Now, I try to speak to myself the way I speak to my kids, and before them it was the way I would talk to my best friend. I don’t get it right all the time, because I’m not perfect.” 

6. We all have an inner strength we are not even aware of

“Resilience is like a muscle – the more we use it, the stronger it gets. We don’t always get to discover how resilient we are, though. We all wish that bad things didn’t happen, but they inevitably do. It’s important to know that we all have the inner resources to be able to cope with whatever life throws at us.”

7. Don’t try to find the silver lining right away

“Don’t put pressure on yourself to try and find the lesson in a bad situation straightaway, because that’s another thing we do in our culture. We try to find a silver lining immediately, but we can be doing ourselves a disservice. It’s really important to acknowledge what’s happened and allow ourselves to sit with it, even though it’s awful and uncomfortable and we don’t want to be there. Trust that you will find the lesson. It might be years later, but you will find it eventually.”

8. Everything does not happen for a reason 

“I hate that saying. We’re not very good at talking about grief, death or loss, and I get it, as they’re awkward topics to talk about. It’s not comfortable visiting someone who’s just had a cancer diagnosis or whose child has passed away. You don’t know what to say, but actually a really good thing to say is just, ‘I’m really sorry. I don’t know what to say’.”

9. Becoming a mother has helped me drop my perfectionism

“Before I had kids, I used to get up early and write. Now I normally get woken up by my children and my day is kind of run at their behest. But I think motherhood has actually made me more efficient because if I’ve got 20 minutes and that’s all the time I have, I just have to get it done, whereas before I was probably a bit of a perfectionist. It’s Parkinson’s law – if you have all day to do a task, it’ll take you all day. If you have an hour, it’s going to take you an hour.” 

Turia’s feel-good kit 

Got a friend who’s going through a hard time? These might just help…

1. A salt lamp

“They’re a really lovely thing to give to someone who’s going through a tough time.”

2. Chicken soup and chockies

“If they lived near me, I’d drop over some chicken soup and a block of beautiful artisanal handmade Australian chocolate.”

3. Schitt’s Creek box set

“It’s so much better than the first few episodes – you’ve got to persevere, it’s so funny.”

Why I chose Kynd

“When Matthew Stenmark, the founder of Kynd, jumped on the phone with me, I loved his energy and passion and I thought, ‘I want what this guy has!’ I love that they give back – every time a Kynd product is bought, they donate an immunity product to someone who really needs it. They’re also a sustainable brand, the supplements come in a beautiful glass bottle, and they have a bamboo cap you can chuck in the compost. All of those things led me to feel they were a really good fit.”