You don't have to live stressed out and exhausted.
Over the holidays, I went on a hiking trip with some friends. When I say hiking I don’t mean the traditional sense of walking on a path through the woods. I mean hiking, forging a new path, sliding down hills, scaling rocks, jumping over creeks, crawling up hills, etc. (The picture here is from the top of a rocky peak that we hiked up.) This event was WAY out of my comfort zone. While I was hiking through the woods, experiencing periods of utter joy and sheer exhaustion I figured out some lessons on living happier.
Relaxing Doesn’t Always Mean Slowing Down: Sounds counter-intuitive, huh? The friends who were leading the hike moved very fast so you had to keep up. I struggled with this a lot until a friend of mine told me of a story of a guy who was talking to a wise shaman who was teaching him about the meaning of life. One of the lessons was to run through the woods as fast as he could. As the guy started running he realized the more he relaxed the easier it was to run without getting caught up on stuff and falling down. As the pace got faster, my initial reaction was to move slower (and sometimes I did) but when I relaxed and went with my gut I was able to keep pace with the group. In life, while it is necessary to take time off and disconnect. We also need to learn how to relax while engaging and moving through life. We need to connect with ourselves and our guts while we are keeping pace.
It Is Ok To Be Last: For those of you who know me, I am pretty competitive especially with myself. I like to succeed so being last is a challenge for me. I was the one bringing up the rear, struggling up the hill or scared to jump the creek. But by the second day of being last I started relaxing into it. It was kind of nice to let my competitive spirit go, to recognize I don’t HAVE to be good at everything. To see I had stuff to learn and places to grow and to get my ego in check. In all honesty, it was humbling to see how far out of whack my ego had gotten and just how uncomfortable it was for me to struggle. As I was walking I realized the challenge helps me feel alive, helps me grow and learn. Frequently, in our lives we set it up so we don’t have a lot of challenges, we get in our routines and we do the stuff we are good at. When was the last time you really challenged yourself, learned something new and got out of your comfort zone?
Ask For Help No Matter How Hard. I was also amazed how hard it was for me to ask for help. In fact, I voiced that I didn’t want help a number of times to my nearest and dearest on the hike. I wanted to figure it out on my own, so even if I was bringing up the rear I wanted to get there alone. So my nearest and dearest stayed away, occasionally checking in but allowing me my struggle. But those who didn’t know me as well or just chose to ignore me stayed back and made sure I made it, offering helpful (and I do mean HELPFUL) hints along the way. At first I was annoyed, embarrassed really, that I needed so much help, I worried that I was holding them up, ruining their hiking experience, etc. And then I became really appreciative. I tend to be a lone ranger; asking for help, being vulnerable not my strong suit (but I keep spiraling up!!!) so this was a great lesson for me. Once my ego stepped aside it felt good to get help, to have someone care enough to stay back and make sure I was ok. Often times we would rather struggle alone then ask for help and open ourselves up to the vulnerabilities of being ‘less than’. When was the last time your stubbornness effected your ability to ask for help?
Enjoy the View. The view was incredible. Thank God I didn’t miss it–I have included some pictures below, of the view. Even though I was tired, achy, and struggling to fight my ego, I was still able to look around and enjoy the view. And that, my friends is the point of life. We struggle we get exhausted we beat up on ourselves and then we say ‘wait a minute!’ look at this view, look at my life, look at my blessings and we relax and smile. That is living happier at its finest.