Last Monday a convicted murderer asked a large crowd at Stratford's War Memorial Centre, "what's your prison?".

Dr Paul Wood, a motivational speaker who served time in prison for murder, was in town to talk to the rural community in an event organised by Rural Support Taranaki.

His talk focused on what he identifies as being the five steps to freedom and way to increase resilience.

"Self care isn't luxury, its discipline," he told the audience.

Advertisement

"I believe in people's great capacity for growth."

At 18, Paul had dropped out of education and was involved in drugs and crime.

"I grew up thinking that I shouldn't feel vulnerable or rely on others and that I had to solve problems with violence."

Two days after his mother died, Paul got into an altercation with his drug dealer and killed him, leaving Paul with a sentence of 10 years in prison.

"I earned my place in New Zealand prison. Prison is the university for crime."

Paul says he did drugs to avoid his reality. During his time in prison, Paul achieved his masters degree and started his doctorate in psychology. Paul's father used his pension money to pay for his study, and Paul says he is grateful.

"Adversity is the catalyst for growth."

Paul says people in the first world have more time to focus on stress.

"The first world has more time to focus on problems such as stress, whereas the developing world has more tangible problems."

He says our brains are wired for misery.

"Life isn't meant to be easy, life is meant to be hard. Life is only understood walking backwards but lived walking forwards."

As well as talking in Stratford to the rural community, he also spoke in Inglewood in the morning to school students.