As an extreme sports fan Deano has bungee-jumped from a helicopter, set a time record around the Isle of Wight in a Thundercat power boat and been thrown by a Human Catapult. He’s also registered blind. His eyesight has been deteriorating since the age of nine – he has a rare condition called “Rod and Cone Dystrophy”. His website www.extremedreams.co.uk tells of his many adventures and also hosts his online extreme sport equipment business. Deano lives in Scotland with his wife Rhona.
I asked Deano about whether he has a happy life.
There are lots of things in my life I’m happy with. I’ve been very lucky with lots of different things. Either people I’ve met or things I’ve done, experiences I’ve had. But I think it’s been a case of me having to look for these things to make me happy.
I don’t think that you can naturally become happy by simply waiting. You have to look for happiness, and when you find it, grab it.
Obviously things hit you and you get knocked down along the way. You’ve got to try and come through. For me, it’s all about battling forward. Trying to positive, trying to be happy. It’s not always easy, but if you aim for it, hopefully you’ll get there.
Most of the extreme sport experiences I’ve had have made me happy at some point, whether it’s the thought beforehand, the process of doing it or looking back afterwards and being proud of myself for doing it. Looking back and thinking – ‘I’m so chuffed I did that. That was great.’ A lot of the time people who make me happy are the people I meet on these adventures. A lot of them are likeminded and sometimes when people meet me, because of me being registered blind, it kind of throws them. But it brings out a really nice side to some people, and that makes me happy. A kind of reflected happiness.
I think happiness is contagious. If you go into a room with a big smile on your face, the chances are other people in the room will pick up on that. So long as you get past the ones who won’t pick up on it – you’ve got to keep smiling past them – you will take people on the trip with you. There’s no doubt about it.
There are some people who will never be happy. Although sometimes I think there are people who claim never to be happy, and they’re actually very happy because they’re telling you that they’re unhappy! Complaining makes some people happy – about the weather, their job, their wages. I think it’s part of the British psyche. I’ve been to a few other countries and I’ve never really come across that attitude towards life overseas.
He clearly has a lot of support behind him.
It sounds quite corny in a way, but my wife, Rhona, makes me so happy. I wake up every morning with Rhona by my side and that’s the ultimate for me. She’s just so special to me. Extreme sports are fantastic, but they hit you in a different way. I couldn’t have been on many of the adventures I have without Rhona. She helps me organise them, helps me get there, supports me in wanting to do whatever it might be. If I didn’t have had her, I wouldn’t have had all these adventures d therefore I might not be as happy as I am now. It all comes back to Rhona.
Deano runs an online business, selling extreme sport equipment.
On a day to day basis running a successful business makes me happy. I get regular positive feedback from my customers. When you an open an email and someone has written: ‘We can’t believe how wonderful the product you sent us is. We’ll definitely be coming back. We’ll be telling our friends.’ You look at that and you think – my business is a success. And people telling me that just makes my day. I’m really proud of it.
Life has not been easy for Deano. He has achieved a great deal while enduring a complex eyesight condition. Does it affect his levels of happiness?
I live my life forgetting about my eyesight. I tend not to think about it too much. But when someone tells me I can’t do something because of my eyesight, I suddenly realise that I had forgotten about it. That sometimes takes me into a bit of a dark place. The dark place gets visited several times a year, but Rhona is the one who helps me through and brings me out of it.
There was quite a low point a few years ago when I lost my sister – she was only 17 – took her own life . To be honest I was close to committing suicide. I just felt so guilty that maybe I hadn’t been there for her. I felt that as her big brother I should be where she is, trying to look after her. I was quite prepared to do it. All the family tried to help, but it was Rhona who helped me through. It’s her force and her being there that’s helped me through all these things. That’s how she keeps me happy.
Deano speaks about his relationship with his wife:
I think we’re very good match for each other. She’s a GP, so she has a very stressful job. Sometimes when we’ve had bad days, we come home and we’ll brighten each other up. We bounce of each other. Fortunately, I don’t think we’ve had a situation when we’ve both been extremely low. It’s always a case of one of us is slightly higher and we pull each other out of it. So I wouldn’t say we’re happy 100% of the time, but so far pretty much all of the time one of us has been happy when the other one hasn’t. We both help each other back to where we want to be. Fingers crossed it keeps going that way.
I interviewed Deano in February 2009.