Love Sweet Love: Best speech 24 January 2011

Love Sweet Love

After that initial smash hit Music groups can often struggle with that “difficult second album”. Well clearly Toastmasters is not like the music business! I was recently lucky enough to catch Julie Farrell giving what was only her second speech project at MSC on 24 January.

 Julie gave a compelling and thought provoking speech, the transcript of which she has kindly shared and which is reproduced here.

What  the transcript doesn’t convey is the assured manner in which the speech was delivered, with conviction and sincerity and an opening that invited cynicism only to deftly swat it aside. Presented without notes, this was by turns an amusing, informative and inspirational performance that deservedly won best speech of the evening in the face of strong competition from more experienced toastmasters, and wouldn’t have sounded out of place in an Area or Divisional final. Following on from winning best speaker of the evening for her ice breaker, Julie is clearly one to watch!

 So, if you’re wondering what an outstanding speech looks like then read on…

 Love Sweet Love

             What the world needs now, is love sweet love.  It’s the only thing, that there’s just, too little of.

            Madam Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and most welcome guests, although the sentiment in the Burt Bacharach lyrics I’ve just quoted is true, it’s certainly not new.  The idea that ‘all we need is love’ has been around for millennia, but how can we transform what has now essentially become a hippy platitude into a practical life-enhancing tool?  In this speech, I intend to show you, firstly by explaining how our normal idea of love is often unhelpful.  Next, I’ll invite you to join me in a simple love-generating exercise.  And lastly, I’ll explain how easy it is to love others, when we remember how much they do for us. 

 But before all that, I must confess, I love chocolate!  It’s so delicious and sweet and creamy, and, scientists say that it triggers euphoria in my brain. 

Our normal idea of love is similar to my love of chocolate – I enjoy it without considering how it is for the chocolate!  We usually want to know what the other person can do for us.  “I love you” often means “I enjoy you”.   

  In the film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray becomes trapped in the same day and has to keep re-living it.  He initially wants to convince Andy McDowell’s character to sleep with him (for his gratification) so he spends his repeated day coming on to her and getting slapped in the face a lot.   

 Bill doesn’t experience any lasting happiness, because he’s treating Andy like a bar of chocolate, wondering what pleasure he can get from her.  This is painful for Bill because he’s putting his happiness into her hands and effectively saying ‘Here’s my happiness. You look after it.  If you give me what I want, then I’ll be happy’.  But she won’t give him what he wants, and it’s not her job to make him happy, so he remains frustrated and unfulfilled. 

 Eventually Bill realises that the transient gratification of a one night stand isn’t what he’s after, and he begins to cherish Andy instead.  He understands that loving for the sake of loving is the true source of happiness.  He says to her, “No matter what happens tomorrow or for the rest of my life, I’m happy now because I love you.” 

 None of us have to sit around waiting for love to magically appear in our lives.  You can generate love yourself whenever you wish, and I’d like to show you how.  I invite you all to close your eyes and think of the person you love the most in the world.  Please do that now.  Really picture the person and swim in your love for them.  What are the beautiful things they do for you?  What is it about them that you love so much?  How do you feel when you make them smile?  Now please open your eyes. 

 We naturally feel happy and peaceful when we experience love.  I sometimes feel powerless to make a difference, but then I remember that I have the power to give love to everyone I meet.  It’s a precious gift, because everyone, without exception, yearns to feel loved and understood.  You have the power to make someone’s day with your smile. 

 It feels good to love.  But we often take the beneficial actions of others for granted – we focus on their faults, and make a point of telling other people about our negative experiences of them.  If you work in an office, someone probably comes in every day to clean the toilets for you, but isn’t it true that you only become aware of them if they haven’t stocked up the loo roll! 

Everything depends on others.  I do work hard, but how much can I actually do for myself?  Other people toil everyday so that I can have food and clothes and clean water.  Every cup of tea that I drink contains hundreds of people.  And yes, it’s their job, and they don’t do it with me in mind, but their hard work does benefit me – where would I be without farmers, or people who drive articulated lorries full of food, or people who work in supermarkets?  And if it wasn’t for my boss, I wouldn’t actually have any money to buy food!

 To recap:  Firstly, when we love people for the sake of loving them, rather than for what we can gain from them, we can’t help but feel happy and peaceful.   

Secondly, you don’t have to wait for love to magically appear.  You can close your eyes and focus on the good qualities of the people in your life, remembering all the nice things they do for you.  This naturally enhances your relationships, and creates good feelings for you.

And thirdly, we are all interconnected.  If it wasn’t for the people who pick the cocoa beans and ship them over here, I couldn’t have my chocolate fix!  When I remember how little I can do for myself, I feel humbled and connected with my fellow humans.

 Fellow toastmasters and most welcome guests, next time you’re feeling those winter blues, just remember to put a little love in your heart.  It’s not just a hippy notion, but one that I urge you to put into practice every day.  I know it sounds empty and vacuous to claim that the only thing we need in the world now is love, sweet love.  But scientists say that that there’s already an abundance of resources available to give enough food, clean water, clothing, and shelter to every single human being on this planet.  When we cultivate love, we naturally develop compassion, and then we can’t help but conclude that the only logical solution is to share these resources.  And when we do that, we can literally save lives.

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