Glasgow Warrior rugby scrum-half Grayson Hart, from Auckland in New Zealand, has come back to his roots to live in Scotland. He lives in Glasgow with his fiancee, South African model Chelsea Le Roux, and their dog Ardie. Grayson tells us about how he overcame drink and drugs problems after his father’s death to follow a new way of thinking, and encouraging others to defeat paths of self-destruction and instead pursue a fulfilling, happy life.
Are you a naturally positive and cheerful person?
I think so and I think I’ve come to understand clearly that there is that capacity in everyone – it’s just a matter of understanding that it’s there. The more you can understand that, the more it shines through. You can face difficulties, but know that they are not the defining thing.
You are a Kiwi, but what is your connection to Glasgow?
My grandma was born here in Glasgow. My great-grandpa was in the New Zealand Navy and he came and he met a nice Glaswegian woman – my great-grandma – and then they had my grandma here and my grandma moved over to New Zealand. And now I have come back. I’m the first family member who has come back over this way. But I still have family here.
What do you most enjoy about being part of Glasgow Warriors?
It’s been awesome being part of such a successful rugby team – it’s an organisation that’s full of good, grounded, humble people, and the club really focuses on the development of the players and the club growing. All the staff and all the players share that perspective of really working together to create a better club and a good environment for that to develop in. So that’s been cool to be a part of, to share with other guys and see young guys come through and develop as people and as players.
Have you found the Scottish way of life to be different to New Zealand and Australia?
I have found there are a lot of similarities in the types of people. You can definitely see NZ /Australia have a lot of Scottish and UK influence because there are so many people with ancestors from here. Living in Scotland has allowed me to see how young NZ and Australia are as countries – I really did not realise how new they were until I moved to Scotland and saw the sense of history, and how old some of the buildings are. When you grow up in NZ, that’s all you know.
And in the attitude towards sport?
Scottish fans are really, really passionate, proud and patriotic, and that has been really cool to experience. At Scotstoun (where the Warriors play), the atmosphere is like no other I’ve experienced in terms of how much noise and support the crowd make, and one of the things that is a bit different is the fans can really rip into the opposition and let them know they’re not at home – that’s pretty cool when you are at your home, and it’s a little different when you experience it the other way [laughs] but it’s cool because it shows the passion you are surrounded by in the stadium.
What are the pressures and how do you combat that?
Things bother me, but never for a lasting period of time because an issue is only an issue when you cling to negative thinking. The way to fix something or come to a resolution never comes from a negative way of thinking – when you let that pass, the direction of where to go becomes clear. If you are feeling tense or muddled or stressed, it just means it is not the time to make a decision. Just let your thoughts pass, and eventually they will pass. Don’t make any decisions on a clouded mind, so you don’t let it control anything you do.
This way of thinking is what I’m passionate about and this is what I share. I have a podcast with my Warriors team-mate [and Scotland forward] Adam Ashe – he is of the same understanding. Adam just turned 23 and I turned 28, and he was struggling and feeling the pressures of being a professional sportsman, and he was looking at ways he could get more out what he was doing and not succumb to the view that going to the pub and getting pissed would make him feel better because invariably it doesn’t. We started chatting one day and things have unfolded from there.
It’s called the The New Flow Podcast – we interview authors and athletes, and talk about our own experiences, and we work with people on getting a clear understanding on how to enjoy yourself and achieve what you want to achieve and be your best.
We do coaching, we do presentations with groups like schools, businesses and universities, and it pretty much comes back to a simple understanding of our reality: every single human is created with the three principles of mind, consciousness and thought, and that’s the link between our psychological experiences and spiritual experiences.
That was actually was pioneered by a Scotsman called Sydney Banks – he moved to Canada, and he had an experience where he saw this epiphany – and he dedicated his life to sharing it. There are heaps of books.
I have a website called The Good Life Movement and I write articles on this kind of stuff, so it’s been cool. I love rugby but even more so I enjoy sharing this view.
What triggered you to explore this way of thinking?
My father passed away when I was 21, and that was something that I had always feared – losing my dad. And when it did happen, it was my worst nightmare come true. I was feeling down, sad and no good, and I turned to drinking and drugs and gambling and all that to try and make myself feel better. I made excuses for my actions and my behaviours, like “I’m young”, or “my dad just died, so it’s ok, I’m just coping”. But I knew after a while that my excuses didn’t stand any more and I wasn’t living the way I wanted to live. Just that feeling of “there has got to be a different way”.
I didn’t know the way, but I reached out and my brother and uncle connected me with a man who at that time was working with professional athletes, gaining more of an understanding as to why people turn to drinking and all that when facing issues, and through him I came to understand that all these outside things that I was looking at to make me feel better were just stopgaps to get small boosts of ego gratification, and it was creating more of a negative cycle.
Through working with him I came to the understanding that no matter what your outward circumstance, your capacity for wellbeing is always there. It doesn’t mean you can’t feel sad or angry or frustrated, but beyond that there is always your capacity for your wellbeing, your happiness and your joy and contentment. When I came to see that clearly – and it’s a thing that has been unfolding all the time – my life changed.
As human beings, you can’t control what happens, there is going to be shit that happens in your life and your wellbeing is not reliant on the way it’s going to go and your ability to live a good life is not based on your upbringing or your current circumstances – whatever happens, everything you need to live a good life is already there.
Do you share the concept with your team-mates and do they understand it?
Adam and I started a group – we called it a bookclub – to try and encourage people to come along as there are a lot of dudes into reading and stuff on the team. We had awesome turn-outs, maybe 12 or 13 guys coming along at one time, once a week. and we are now really, really busy on our days off doing this stuff, with our websites and our podcasts.
The guys have responded really well, it’s very different for a current sportsperson to be doing, so there have been a few guys who completely don’t get what we are doing, but no one has been harmful about it or rude. You get the odd guy taking the piss but it’s cool because, to be honest, a few years ago I would have been one of those guys. A lot of people will misunderstand it and that’s perfectly fine. Many of the guys are interested and listen to the podcasts and we actually interviewed a couple on our team.
Is this something you will continue to work on when you finish with rugby?
100 per cent, I am already doing it now and it’s what I will do as a career after rugby. I always knew when my life started to change for the better that I wanted to, in some way, help other people. I want to work with people to help them enjoy life more and have a clearer understanding of life and how we experience it.
Times are changing for sports, with players being supported and encouraged to talk openly about depression… is this welcome?
Yes, absolutely. I remember five or six years ago, my team had a sports psychologist and I thought it was weird, I didn’t want to go speak to them because I thought I might lose the plot if I started to view things in a different way but times are definitely changing, people are more open to different perceptions on things. The only way to true change and to truly start enjoying your life is being open to hearing new ways. If you are stuck in old ways – you are stuck.
How does sport help you live a positive life?
Sport has been a helper in letting me understand my circumstances are not what make me happy. I used to think that having an amazing career and earning a whole lot of money and being a star rugby player would make me feel happier as a person, but they are just a by-product. The misconception is that once you achieve them your life will be great – if you are caught in that kind of misconception then you will always be one pay rise, one car, one milestone in rugby, or whatever it is, away from happiness.
Do you do yoga or meditate?
Every now and then I will do yoga because it is a nice way to stretch and wind down and feel relaxed. I definitely don’t think it makes you more positive because there is no “thing” or practise that can make you more positive. Meditation is an interesting one for me, I truly think you can be in a state of meditation without meditating, just from understanding clearly where your reality is created from. I believe living your life with a meditative view and always allowing your thoughts to pass at any time, is more important than practising meditation.
What are the top three things in life that make your day?
Being able to spend time with my partner Chelsea is huge, feeling healthy and having good health, and being able to connect with other people.
How do you switch off and relax?
Chelsea and I love travelling. I love reading and I read heaps. We also love walking our dog, and just hanging out with people and chilling. Sometimes we like just doing nothing and seeing what the day brings.
Do you and Chelsea have a favourite spot in Scotland?
We love Kelvingrove Park – that’s where we walk the dog, and he loves it there and there are so many really, really nice people from around the neighbourhood we chat with. We have been to Loch Lomond quite a few times, it’s beautiful, and it’s so nice and peaceful. There are so many places we want to visit – there are so many beautiful places in Scotland.
Do you plan to stay in Scotland long-term?
I could stay here longer but my contract finishes in June so I don’t know, it’s all up in the air at the moment. Being a rugby player, you could end up anywhere. If an opportunity arose to stay it is something myself and Chelsea would definitely consider because we do love Scotland and Glasgow.
For more information on Grayson’s website, go here
The New Flow Podcast is available on iTunes