The world according to Rebecca Gibney

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Photography by Harold David. Styling by Lizzy Shepherd
Photography by Harold David. Styling by Lizzy Shepherd

She’s had both good times and bad. Rebecca Gibney tells Bryce Corbett her six secret rules for a happy life.

In the great backstage dressing room of the Australian TV industry, there are those who affect nice, those who are nice – and then there’s Rebecca Gibney. She is so consistently lovely and so effortlessly agreeable that she ought to be irksome.

And yet we love her. We shower her with Logies, make her the most popular female personality on TV and watch her program, Packed To The Rafters, in our millions.

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Remarkably, for someone who appears to have it all, she doesn’t inspire the slightest hint of envy. No matter how much goes right in Rebecca’s life, we can’t help but root for her. Perhaps that’s because so much has gone wrong. She’s weathered more than her fair share of hard knocks. A failed marriage, a highly publicised nervous breakdown, an alcoholic, abusive father and a brother who has undergone life-threatening brain surgery – not once, but twice.

“It wasn’t that long ago that I was in a really dark place,” she tells The Weekly. “And I still sometimes battle demons, but I’ve got the tools now.”

So how does she explain the effortlessness of that trademark Gibney smile? What are the secrets of her new-found happiness? Because, even in spite of her baggage, you only need to spend an afternoon with Rebecca Gibney to come away feeling like the world’s not such a bad place after all. She exudes an incredible positivity.

Like a kindly psychologist or a long-lost friend, Rebecca likes to give. Being a self-confessed “over-sharer”, she’s not afraid to talk.

So here are Rebecca’s Six Secrets For A Happy Life. Consider it the collective wisdom of Rebecca Gibney – the culmination of 45 years of hard-won life experience.

Kindness costs nothing
If you ever drove across Sydney Harbour Bridge and had the car in front pay your toll, chances are you were tailing Rebecca Gibney. As a strict adherent to the “random acts of kindness” school of thought, Rebecca is an inveterate payer of other people’s tolls.

“Back when they used to collect tolls by hand, I always used to pay for two or three cars behind me, because it gave me a kick,” she says. “I used to look in the rearview mirror and see the smile on their face, and I’d just think, ‘Well, maybe that’s going to make the next five minutes of their day really good’. It’s great for your soul to do that.”

Respect your elders
Later this year, the Gibney clan, in all its boisterous, karaoke-singing, room-filling glory, will travel en masse to Europe. Rebecca and her five siblings are joining their mum on a holiday to Paris, Venice and on a cruise around the Mediterranean. Ostensibly, it’s a trip to mark Shirley’s 75th birthday, but, in truth, it’s as much a gesture to thank her for the remarkable job she did in raising them.

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Embrace your past
By any measure, the road Rebecca has walked through life has not been the most straightforward. Her first marriage, to singer Jack Jones of the rock group Southern Sons, faltered after only three years. At the age of 30, just as her professional life was firing, she suffered a nervous breakdown – a result, she says now, of decades spent suppressing bad memories from her childhood. Agorophobic, depressed and too reliant on Valium, she found herself in the darkest of places.

Your say: Why do you love Rebecca? Do you watch Packed To The Rafters? What are your secrets for a happy life? Share with us below.

Read more of Rebecca’s secrets for a happy life in the story by Bryce Corbett in the June issue of The Weekly. Out now with Rebecca Gibney on the cover. Follow Bryce on Twitter @BryceCorbett

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