Last week, I took some time off to go experience the magnificence of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Over the course of a week, I was tested physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally! Here are some wonderful insights I gained along the Journey!
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Nature has a funny way of stripping us down to our BEAR necessities (see what I did there?) On the 3rd day in Yellowstone, I hiked a 14-mile trail with 3,000+ feet of elevation. During this 7-hour adventure, I had no car, no computer, no IPad, nowhere to buy food, no WiFi, no shelter. It was just Nature, a dude I met on the Trail, and myself. About 12 miles in, it finally hit me: 99% of the things we stress about don’t ever actually happen. Much of the anxiety and overwhelm we feel is generated from within. Stress is created from Self. The sooner we accept in our Hearts that we are ALWAYS moving toward our Greater Good, the sooner we can experience elevated states of Peace.
- Social Connection is Vital to Our Existence: At 6:30am, I embarked on that 14-mile hike, alone… I was spooked! I had bear spray in one hand, and coffee in the other. About a half mile in, I met a man traversing the same trail, and we hiked to the peak of the mountain as a team. During the hike, we got to know each other at a profound level and the connection and trust we built along the Journey made the hike deeply transformative. I once heard that social connection is the greatest predictor of long-term happiness. And this involves stepping away from our introverted tendencies. The comfort zone is great, but nothing ever grows there! Exploring the world outside of our comfort zone provides a space for us to connect, collaborate, and learn more about ourselves and the world we inhabit.
- Be Patient – The very first time after 32 years on this earth where I actually got excited about traffic was when driving through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. This is because traffic typically meant breathtaking animal sightings! This present moment awareness allowed us to tap into the Now and move freely with the Flow of life. I once read that stress comes from our resistance to the present moment. By accepting what is, we cultivate more patience and extract more joy out of life! So the next time you find yourself in LA-style traffic, take a deep breath and let the beauty of the present moment wash over your Soul.
- Gratitude is Power! – On our last day in Jackson Hole, we embarked on a 6-mile journey with over 4,000+ foot climb to “Top of the World.” It was grueling to say the least! When the hike got substantially difficult, we tapped into the power of gratitude. My girlfriend and I would take turns saying what we were grateful for in that moment (i.e. our knees, our feet, clean water, vision, and snacks). This practice poured energy into our bodies and minds and equipped us with the mental and physical strength to ascend to the peak of this punishing mountain!
- Be Kind – I find it intriguing that being out in nature tends to melt down our walls created by the atoms of insecurity, self-doubt, and self-centeredness. Many of us experience a scarcity mindset where we must get ours first in order to survive and thrive, regardless of the impact that this mindset might have on others. The beautiful thing about Nature is that it provides a space for strangers to connect, communicate, and help one another. The more time we spend out in Nature, the more we understand the Universal Principles of Love, Kindness, Compassion, and Empathy. Kindness not only enriches the lives of others, it enhances our own lives and makes us happier and healthier humans.
- Embrace the Climb – Between the 14-mile hike with 3,000+ ft climb and the 6-mile hike with 4,000+ ft climb, it became ultra-apparent very early on that if I didn’t “embrace the climb”, I would be swallowed up by the mountain. During these grueling hikes, I not only learned, I experienced that life is about the journey, not the destination. The joy I felt didn’t come from reaching the peaks of these mountains. It came from the journey – the sweat, the grind, the burn, the adversity! Similarly, in life, happiness is derived from the actual journey, not the destination. Winning a client, getting promoted, and passing the CPA are all great, but as soon as we accomplish these impressive feats, we are met with feelings of hollowness, an insatiable craving for more, or we develop a “what’s next?” mentality! This in turn results in an insatiable thirst for more, more, more. However, if we can fall in love with the climb, with the desire to desire, we can experience longer-lasting feelings of satisfaction, gratitude, and accomplishment. Long-term happiness cannot be felt from the acquisition of wealth or accomplishment, rather it is experienced via the Journey!
Nature serves as a pressure washer for the mind, clearing out the gunk that accumulates from our modern-day lifestyles. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience such a beautiful space with such beautiful people. My heart is full.
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