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Live Happier Lessons From The Mountain

Doesn’t that title make me sound all buddhist like?  Really, I mean from the top of Mount Bachelor in Bend, Oregon.  I have returned from 2 days of skiing and I am very excited to report I had a wonderful, relaxing, joyful time.  I had fun with my friend, I didn’t beat myself up and I greatly improved my skiing!  It was the best ski trip ever and I am know I owe a lot of it to my attitude change.

While I was on the mountain I came up with a few, pretty basic, but still powerful thoughts on living happier.

Be Present.  Wow it was breathtaking up there, sunny, blue skies, snow capped trees.  Absolutely gorgeous.  After we were done skiing we always meet on the lodge deck for a celebratory beer and a snack. I was the first to make it to the deck and as I sat looking at the mountain, watching the skiers I noticed myself getting a little antsy.  I was ready for the ‘next thing’.  Then I reminded myself ‘look around, you are surrounded by beauty, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the view’.  Being a person who is usually on to the next thing, someone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis I need to actively remind myself to stay in the moment.  The beauty is when I have the awareness to catch myself and I can then re-engage.  So I sat back, drank my beer and enjoyed the view.  Today enjoy the view of your life, of your kids playing, of your comfortable home, of your back yard.  Take some time to reflect and enjoy the view.

It’s not all about speed.  I am a big fan of speed, I like to go as fast as I can, get there and get it done.  That has been my M.O. with skiing, go as fast as I can (and usually stop myself by falling).  This year I actually had some control, I could adjust how fast or slow I went (did I mention I didn’t fall once!!). And while I enjoyed the times when I could fly down the mountain, wind whipping my hair.  I noticed I enjoyed the times more when I could make wide strokes across the mountain and just enjoy the feel of my legs on the ski’s and the snow as I pushed through it.  Frequently, we get stuck in ‘getting it done’ and we forget the journey.  We forget it is the process of getting there that is fun, sometimes we need some speed to get through and sometimes we can just enjoy the ride.

Laugh.  One of the things I love best about visiting my friends in Oregon is that they make me laugh.  Big long belly laughs. I love to laugh, I have one of those loud booming laughs. I love laughing so hard that I can’t catch my breath.  I get to do that frequently when I am out here visiting.  But I really noticed over the past 2 days how laughter can just immediately relax me.  It was a great reminder that I wasn’t trying to solve the health care crisis or negotiate world peace, I was just skiing. I was just having fun. So when my friend and I would ride up the ski life, inevitably he would make me bust out in laughter and I would immediately relax and remember where I was and my mission to have fun.  Laughter gives us a natural pause, it gives us a chance to experience some joy and relax.

Engage with others.  During most of our days we are in our groove, we talk to our friends, our co-workers our family members but we rarely chat with random strangers.  One of the things I love about vacation is how easy that is to do. Sitting at the lodge, riding the ski lift, waiting in line, I met a number of interesting people who shared a bit of their story with me for the 3 minutes we were together.  I like to hear people’s stories (one reason I am a good therapist) and it was nice to have the time and the relaxed attitude to engage with other people.  Today as you move through your day, engage with others, give them a smile, a nod, ask them about their day, their lives.  Hear their stories.

As I said in the beginning, these lessons are simple and basic, but sometimes we need reminders on the little things to help us live happier.

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