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Confuse Yourself

Happy New Year! Are you surprised? Although today is the 10th of February, 2016, but I think you are not confused. Let me explain.

We start New Year on January 1st usually. Nevertheless there are many other national, cultural and religious practices to start New Year. For example the Chinese New Year hasn't the exact date. It occurs every year between 21 January and 21 February. By the way, this year it was on February 8th. If you celebrate it, my congratulations!

It will be Babylonian, Iranian, Assyrian and other national New Years later also.

Pupils and their parents, students and teachers start New Year on September 1st.
People who want to change their lives can do it every day and start New Year. We can start new business, change profession, stop smoking, and quit pursuing things that block us from what we really want to do.

Friends, today is a very special day, because we have annual inner club speech contest! Traditionally it occurs every year in February. I can say that the members of Kiev Toastcrackers Club start New Year from this event. So I would like to congratulate you on Toasckrackers' New Year. I wish you...
But wait a second... Happy New Year?
We wish each other "Happy New Year" it that case. By these words we wish to pursuit happiness. It resonates with our culture there happy life corresponds with family, love affairs, being rich and healthy, traveling abroad, and putting pictures about this on Facebook. We wish that these things happen to us. The problem is that the more you chase happiness, the more it runs away. It is a paradox but that is true. The truth is also that this "happy" stuff doesn't work for Toasmasters. Your kids, spouse, money are not helpful to be happy in Toasmasters. In fact, sometimes our closest people do not share this interest. I remember Zoya's story that her husband was worrying about her returning home late after our meetings.

If I could say in one sentence my experience being Toasmasters, I would have to say about confusion. I was confused during several years at every meeting from start to finish. Now, of course, I am not confused all the time. A little bit. I do mistakes. I fail with using humor, constructing speeches. But I learned much. Yes, I am happy to visit our meetings because I want to learn something new.

I was interested in this matter and did some research about confusion. I found that there is biological reason for this. Our brain is like a machine. It is on autopilot usually. It works well with the information that can increase our happiness and help to avoid pain. It's easy for our machine. But then new things come that are challenging for us and not understandable. The brain must work more actively. At this moment we feel confusion. So, when we meet something new and challenging we feel confusion. It is a natural part of learning. If we are not getting confused then we are not learning enough. When we get through the confusion and learn something new, it's no longer confusing. It becomes exciting.

It can sound like a paradox but, friends, use your confusion, face it, and practice it. You will discover the reward of true happiness. I have experienced it. Now I understand much better than before the meaning of Alexander Pushkin's lines from a novel "Eugene Onegin":

"Experience, the son of painful errors,
And genius, the paradoxes' friend..."

Fellow Toasmasters and guests, I want to to congratulate you on Toasckrackers' New Year. I wish you come here, be confused, learn public speaking, improve your brain power and feel happy!