Jimi Hunt

"The best project that you can always work on is yourself."

February 22, 2020 / Yana Papaya / 0 comments

Words and story by Yana Papaya
Edited by Rina Patel
Photos by Katherine Brook

What do you think of when you hear the word “depression”?

What do you sense in your body, mind? Discomfort? Rejection? Acceptance? Understanding?

Ever since discovering Live More Awesome, a NZ-registered Mental Health Charity, my personal views based on depression changed. Blue or grey colours that are typically  associated with mental health organisations changed to bright pink. My subconscious attitude to hide away from this “negative” topic, or lock myself in a shell, changed to an ability to have an open conversation and realisation that depression is actually a part of lots of peoples lives and can be triggered by various traumas, life events, circumstances, losses or, even gains. Depression can not only break into your personal space easily but can also act like a parasitic guest in your life, sucking the energy, the prana from your loved ones. Depression can be a slow death, it can steal your true essence and beauty and leave you senseless. Or it can be the most powerful turning point in your life, triggering the rebirth of your divine spirit. Today’s story is one of those stories. Depression can be and must be cured, thus must be talked about openly and freely in society.

Today we present the story and life views of Jimi Hunt, one of co-founders of Live More Awesome, builder of the World’s Biggest Waterslide, inspirational and motivational speaker, author of “A Bit Mental” and “A Guide to Live More Awesome”, director of a creative design agency, adventure-lover, husband, friend, simply a very interesting, fun and cool character.

Jimi Hunt is bright, energetic, full of love, crazy ideas and a desire to improve the mental health around the world. But Jimi also does his best to fit what Gandhi used to teach us: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Jimi breaks stereotypes and shows that change is quick and fast and everyone can do it – you just need to be given tools and necessary techniques in order to obtain the shift. For the last 3 years he has done immense work on himself. Jimi improved things in himself and got rid of all those things that he wasn’t very proud of. As Jimi is very much like “enjoy the moment” guy our conversation mainly rotated around what it’s like to be Jimi nowadays, what changes and perceptions his mind and heart hold.

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To experience a moment with Jimi, you really get a sense that this man lives in the moment, making the most out of every single day, every human interaction and contact. His style, ambitious and easy-going attitude, attracts people’s attention. As everything in life, Jimi’s personality and way of being has two extreme implications – people either love and respect him to bits, or hate him. And we bet it’s not easy to deal with that kind of black and white public feedback. Still Jimi never gives up on him true self and finds potential to grow and change from within. And that’s a big transition for a person like Jimi. We talked with Jimi to find out what’s causing the Tall Poppy Syndrome here in New Zealand and if there is a way to neutralize it.

Jimi is full of paradoxes, funny anecdotes and epiphanies. If you are feeling low or even worse, please don’t worry but read this story and its highlights as Jimi’s personal experience shows that depression might make you a better version of yourself. We also tried to find out why depression is a number one problem in Western society, while people who have less materialistic goods in poor countries find themselves happier. Jimi is full of paradoxes, but so is life.

Welcome to a new story about Jimi Hunt who doesn’t do small talk. We had the  pleasure of speaking openly, boldly and deeply. Our story helped to shed a light on Jimi’s recent achievements, however he left us with a sense of mystery and discovery for our next big conversation.

I do not do small talks. Stop talking about shit and start talking about real shit and having a deep meaningful conversation. It can be massive concepts how we can change the world to make a better place, or it can be a conversation with tiny concepts about how we can help you to change a tiny bit of you – whatever scale, it doesn’t matter, what matters  is, as long as it’s fucking real.

People tend to place ideas high up on a pedestal, but in general ideas are worth nothing, unless, they are done. It’s as simple as that. Lots of guys come over to me in the bar flippantly saying: “Oh my God, I had an idea to build the World’s Biggest Waterslide.” But my question in return to them is: “Did you do that?” And usually I’ll hear: “No, I had a full-time job and no spare time.” The key difference between people who achieve stuff and people who don’t – is whether they have the ability to actually go out and really do something.

Less focus and more just do. It took me 15 days to finish my first book. This time I needed 4 days to finish my second book.

The biggest thing that stops people from actually doing is fear...They are afraid of what may happen if doesn’t work, if no one comes, watches or is going to buy it…what if I fail. But, what happens when you fail? Nothing. Imagine if the World’s Biggest Waterslide was a complete failure. We couldn’t build it or we didn’t raise enough money. What would happen? Would my friends leave me? Would I never ever be hired again? No. So what’s wrong with failing?

I think I have failed because I haven’t failed yet in one of my personal projects. But yes I have failed in my personal life and it was a big lesson for me.

I feel the fear every day. I am afraid that no one is going to buy my book next week. I am afraid that no one will come to my talks next week. I am absolutely afraid, but then you just do it anyway.

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I come from a place of love. I basically make no money in order to run The Mental Health Charity. I can easily shut it down and go and get a high-paid job in the creative world because that’s what I do in the professional world. Instead, out of my own sheer will I’ve chosen to spend my time trying to change the world by investigating the way society thinks and looks at mental health. Because I am doing that, I know that’s coming from a good place, it comes from my heart. So everyone who thinks that I am doing it for a different purpose, simply doesn’t know me. It doesn’t worry me too much, but it still hurts when people judge me incorrectly.

People are afraid of being themselves. People are afraid of wearing pink shorts or pink flip-flops.

I should be able to say to a guy: “I love you” without them thinking I’m hitting on them or something. My friends are cool about it, but generally speaking these confessions between different people, genders should happen more often.

I was taught by Sally Caldwell, a change therapist, that everything vibrates on a frequency. The lowest vibrational frequency is fear. And the highest vibrational frequency is unconditional love. So in general as human beings we should favour moving towards unconditional love as close as we can. People from religious backgrounds to pop musicians preached the power of unconditional love for thousand of years. And yet the population still doesn’t practice it.

It took me a while to feel unconditional love towards my ex-wife who cheated on me and etc. But now I feel like I love her even more and I am grateful to her for setting me up on this journey. Everyone, everything and everyday is your teacher.

The only person that we should compare ourselves to is the person we were yesterday. Are we better today than we were yesterday? That’s our goal. That’s why we are here in life, is to grow, expand and love.  

The best project that you can always work on is yourself. I think only a small fraction of  the population is actually viewing themselves as a project and working on themselves to make themselves better people.

Everything inside makes up our reality. That’s what I learnt over the past few years. Our society is driven to fix things externally – a new house, a new job, a new girlfriend, a new country…a new whatever should bring you happiness. Whereas the only thing that will help you is looking inside yourself and figuring out how to change stuff that isn’t well from within you.

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I used to be angrier, sadder, more judgemental and I would become bored easily – all those things that i didn’t want myself to be. Then I started working on myself as a project and over last three years I almost got rid of everything that I wasn’t happy with about myself. There are still things to work on, but we are getting there.

Depression is the best thing that happened to me. It was my catalyst for change. And unfortunately sometimes in life you have to hit rock bottom to get to know yourself. The question I asked myself was: “How can I to encourage people to work on themselves who are just in the middle of falling down, those who haven’t reached the bottom just yet?” How do we motivate them to flick the switch and say: “Yes, I would like to work on myself. I can be more, I want to be more and I want to change and I will change. And I will be a more positive, beautiful person.”

So far, I think there are only two results if you flick someone’s switch – to rock bottom or inspiration. There will be a day when you completely fucked up and you realise that you need to change. Or, there will be a day when you read a blog post, you watch a video and you are inspired by this example and you have this realisation that today is the day when I am going to change. And you are already doing this here with your Papaya Stories project. The more inspiring stories that we can tell, the more light we can spread into the world.

Do you know how to become intimate with someone? –  Brutal fucking honesty. I was talking with my dad about this. Together with my mum they moved to Tauranga, there are in their 60s and they needed to make new friends again. What’s really interesting about it is when you meet someone once that’s cool, you meet them again and you think: “it’s even cooler than cool…and it’s the coolest.” And it’s a very slow process when you go about rebuilding friendship. How do you quicken this process? To simply acknowledge each other to say truthful things like -the fact that they like to spend time with each other and they want to do more of it. And do you know how rarely people actually do or say such things? Because, again they are afraid of rejection and other things.

My state of mind is a life to adventure. The adventure doesn’t necessarily mean a thrill-seeking experience. For me adventure is the opposite of a 9 to 5 routine. I am working when I want to, when I am interested in and I get myself into those projects that I am keen to take part in, when I get to explore the world around me including people, social situations, things and places. And that’s what excites me and inspires me to do my projects on a side that also are there for a purpose to help other people out and improve their mental health.

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I love being seated at a table with people I don’t know and listening to their stories.

Not everyone should be your type of person and that’s a good thing.

I am lucky that what I do for living kind of defines who I am. That’s quite rare. But that’s the way it should be. And I actually feel sorry for you if you can also identify yourself as a banker or accountant or a barista. If you observe a social situation for sometime you will see that people tend to ask each other what do you do, first. Instead of asking people what you do you start to ask people what they are passionate about and watch them light up as they are so into talking about what they are truly passionate about.

You see people who live in slums and they are happiest people on Earth. And then you have modern rich people around the corner with a Ferrari who are truly depressed. And this modern developed world model is built up on an idea that you should be super happy when you are that successful and you should be miserable when you are that poor. But when you look at those slums they have a sense of community. People have a sense of purpose – they want to help each other out.

We are the most stressed society at the moment lacking a sense of purpose. We are all sitting lonely in boxes apart from each other compared to those who live in poverty, in slums next to each other and having a real sense of community. That’s the way we set up modern society and that model doesn’t actually foster a happy and healthy society. That’s actually getting worse. The World Health Organisation said that by the year 2025 – 80% of people will suffer from a mental health condition in their lifetime. By 2030 the leading cause for the death will be mental-health-related, i.e, suicide. And this sad statistics shows that previous methods and approaches do not work. We need new ideas, new solutions, new projects that will help to reshape the society or reshape the way we guide ourselves through society.

We think that change is hard and takes a long time. And it’s the statement that the society is built upon. And it’s a premise that helps other capitalists and marketers to sell you stuff that will make you feel better. Women are told that they are not good-looking enough. Here, have some make-up. Men are told that they are not real men unless they are driving a big fancy car. Buy more stuff from us. As society we trade off on that principle that change is hard and requires time, but the truth is is that change is not that actually that hard and it can be done in short amount of time, you need to obtain certain tools and techniques that I am sharing in my new book “A Guide to Live More Awesome.”

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Sure, I have bad days and low times and it’s natural, that’s the thing we call Life. Shit is going to happen to you, life will throw things at you. But I will never ever get back to that down point. I can’t undo that work, I can’t forget those tools that I obtained for the last 3 years. That work has set  me up to be a much healthier human when shit happens as it’s inevitable on anyone’s life path. No one lives a happy perfect life, it’s only in the way you deal with it -that’s the only thing that matters.


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