Five Steps to Hiking Through Life with Happiness

by Connie

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Ever looked forward to an event only to get thrown a curve? 

Have you planned an outing and had those plans go sideways on you?

When your down-time doesn’t go as planned are you able to rebound?

I’ve got five simple suggestions on how to resurrect a day that doesn’t quite meet your expectations. 

It’s no surprise to find they’ll also help you put all of ‘life’s little challenges’ into the proper perspective throughout your Life, too. 

My husband, Steven and I planned a special day hiking the bluffs of a state park.  We filled a small cooler with water, packed the camera and a few power bars and jumped in the car.  We were ready to enjoy the enticing weather of an Indian summer day. 

I wanted to be sure Steven had the opportunity to see the beautiful fall foliage, so I drove down to the park.  My grand design was that he could drive us home after our full day of hiking, allowing me the chance to nap.  (I know…pretty smart on my part, right?  In all fairness, I did share my plan with him before we left.)

About 30 minutes into our drive we hit our first small bump in the road.  Engrossed in conversation, I missed our connection on the interstate.  This brings me to my first suggestion:

  1. Roll with It!  Remind yourself what really matters.  If no one’s dead or bleeding and no body parts have been lost it doesn’t qualify as a crisis, does it?  You are in control of your mood.  Why get angry over a little inconvenience? As I say, ‘NBD, no big deal!’ 

Yes, our drive was going to take a bit longer than expected but we still had a day of hiking to look forward to.  Not to mention, the reason I missed our interchange was because I was engaged in our discussion.

We got to the park and headed to the visitors center to pick up a trail map.  We plotted our course with a park ranger, and headed off to the bluffs. 

Steven and I are both naturals at reading maps and getting our bearings.  Cut us loose in an unfamiliar city and it takes us a very short time before we’re both acclimated to the lay of the land. 

Map in hand and trail markers on the paths, we thought we were prepared.  Almost immediately, three things converged that could have set the tone for our day, if we had allowed it.

At the trail head, we encountered an unpleasant mountain of garbage that had overflowed its bin.  The pile was heaping four feet in every direction, including upward.  It had obviously been there for days.  It didn’t send the message that you were communing with nature. 

We walked carefully around the pile only to find our second surprise; the map and trail markers were useless.  While the map appeared to be easy to follow, it was worthless.  The trails had marker posts, but the color coordinated markers were missing, making it anybody’s guess.  Together the tools were a joke.

Lastly, the condition of the trails was horrible.  It would be a stretch to say the footpaths were in rustic condition.  Hikers were milling around with maps in their hands, confused as to where to go and bewildered at the conditions they were facing.

This brings me to my second tip:

  1. Don’t let the path deter you.  If the road ahead looks harder than anticipated or under less than ideal conditions, stay focused on why you came and what you were hoping to experience. The truth of the matter is you’re probably up for the challenge anyway, so don’t sell yourself short.  

The first 20 minutes of our hike were really congested.  The circumstances weren’t what anyone expected.  In addition, the path was filled with kids of all ages and leashed dogs running everywhere.  Some were supervised by adults, others not so much.  While most of the groups we caught up with were considerate others were, again, not so much.  This leads me to my next suggestion:

  1. Don’t allow others to determine your mood.  I could’ve focused on the thoughtlessness of some of the hikers or the overcrowding, but why would I choose to give those things power over my day?    I was with my best friend. I wanted to be out in nature and I was.  The weather was incredible.  I wasn’t going to allow external things ruin our plans.

A half-hour into our trek the trails became even more primitive.  Because they were in such poor condition, it caused the crowds to thin out considerably. Using our intuition and spatial ability we had fallen into the rhythm of the course we were to follow. 

We found ourselves among only a handful of trekkers.  At times we were completely alone on the path which was especially nice.  This is when my fourth idea related to trekking through Life appeared:

  1. Hard as it may be, when you forge your own path you’ll leave the crowds behind.  While we weren’t totally alone, there were times it sure felt like we were.  The solitude was peaceful.  It allowed us to share thoughts and create our own special memories in time. We took in views of the panorama from the bluffs perched over the river.  We stopped for water breaks when needed.  We stopped for hugs and conversation whenever the mood struck.  Our determination to not turn back when the trail had become difficult had once again paid off.

This brings me to my fifth observation:

  1. Be present; enjoy your company and keep a flexible timetable.  If you’re in a larger group, find a smaller group of people to enjoy.  If you’re with someone special be sure to find ways to connect.  If you’re alone take pleasure in the peace and solitude of your own company.  Don’t be too rushed that you can’t stop to watch a deer drink from a stream, savor an unexpected rainbow or absorb the surrounding vistas.

Because we followed these five simple steps Steven and I both shared a wonderful and wonder-filled day.  We were out there enjoying our adventure, having fun and making memories together. 

Every day since our trip, either Steven or I have made reference to our special gift of a day; how connected we felt, how happy we both were and how we’ve created another remembrance to add to our virtual memory book.

Following these five suggestions, if only for a few hours or for the rest of your Life, will provide you with days that are happier, less stressful and filled with a more positive outlook, no matter what path you’re on.

Oh and for the record, I also wanted to say that I stayed awake the whole ride home, too.  How’s that for amazing?

I’d love for you to share your thoughts, how do you re-route a less than perfect experience?  Share it with me, using the comment form below.

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