What The Trails Teach Us: The Tie Between Hiking And Mindset
I love hiking. Nothing quite beats the smell of sun-warmed trail dirt as you meander through deep forests and up giant mountains. Hiking is an all-encompassing, feast for the senses that takes you out of your day-to-day life and into nature.
It’s relaxing, beautiful, but sometimes it's challenging. Some days you get rained on, forget an essential piece of gear such as snacks, or get sunburned.
Even if nothing specifically goes wrong, there are some days that feel like a complete and utter slog. You don’t want to be in the mountains, you want to be on the couch. But there you are, climbing up the side of one exclusively because you didn’t want to bail on your friend.
The real reason I love hiking (or pretty much any outdoor activity) is for how closely it parallels our lives as a whole. All of our emotions, thoughts, feelings, and mindset show up and meet us when we’re out there.
The mountains and trails provide us with a challenge. To attempt, or to not. To climb, or to stay low. To endure, or to quit. From biting flies to endless switchbacks to poor weather - hiking tests us. But that’s exactly why we do it!
We hike because we love the challenge of a good trail and the accomplishment of earning an amazing view.
Have you ever been out on the trail, and for no reason at all, started thinking about turning around? Not because you’re scared or hurt, but because you just don’t want to go any further? It’s fine to turn around. It’s healthy to listen to your body, but you should make sure that that’s what is best for you. Sometimes it’s our inner laziness trying to take over, trying to get us to quit working so hard to see another mountain view, and just go home.
There are also those times when our fears kick in. When we hear something crashing through the woods just off the trail, or branches snapping outside of our tent. Our adrenaline rushes in and we go into fight or flight. “Is it a bear? Am I going to die?” We panic, say goodbye to precious life just before a tiny bunny rabbit runs out of the brush. Talk about being overly dramatic!
Hiking is a very interesting lens to view our mindset because we are exposed to heightened senses, emotions, and situations. When we’re out in nature our bodies are naturally more alert which allows our inner beliefs to come out and play.
Do you quit when you’re only halfway through a hike? Do you get angry because the flies are ruining your experience? Are you upset that there are too many people out on the trail? Do you startle more easily?
If we have a good mindset built on healthy beliefs it will be easier to push through the challenges. It’s when we cling to our negative beliefs and thoughts, our time in the outdoors sours. Instead of seeing how great our experience is, we only see the negatives. We only see the reasons why we should go home, and why we never should have gone in the first place.
Hiking is a beautiful display of how our mindset plays out in other areas of our lives too!
You know that trail that you’ve always wanted to hike? That one that you think about doing every year but haven’t made time for some reason? Well, take a second to honestly ask yourself why you haven’t gone? Is it really just a busy schedule?
We always have a reason for doing or not doing something. And usually, it’s not really the excuse of no time, no money, or no opportunities. Our reasons are based on core beliefs that guide us. For example, maybe you don’t think you can hike alone. Or, maybe deep down you think the hike is too challenging. Or maybe you just don’t actually want to do it at all but you won’t accept it.
Our mindset controls all of this. It tells us what to believe, how to act, and what to do.
If there’s something out there that you really want, but your mindset is denying it, it’s worth doing some inspecting. Because let’s face it, you won’t always be able to hike that trail you’ve always dreamed of. Instead of letting it slip through your fingers, make a plan and take action.
Through knowing what you’ve been experiencing, you can begin to see the parallels between mindset and your life as a whole. What other areas of your life have been affected by a mindset that’s not focused on your potential?
Hiking gives us so many gifts, and some of the greatest ones are the lessons it teaches us. If you can find a way to master your mindset on the trail, imagine how much more goodness you’d get out of it. Bugs, bad weather, and tired feet are no match for a good inner belief system.
Mindset is a powerful tool that pushes us forward in the face of adversity, danger, and fears. It can take a bad situation and turn it into an opportunity. And most importantly, mindset has the power to give us exactly what we chase after, as long as we can keep showing up.
In the fabulous words of Sir Edmund Hillary, “It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves.”
If you’ve liked this article, then I have an entire book that you’ll love. It’s called The Wild Mindset, and it’s an online course that I created all about mindset and achieving goals. It’s written for outdoor lovers and everyone in between, bringing in parallels from the great outdoors to topics typically reserved to self-help. Let’s conquer your mountains together!
To learn more about The Wild Mindset, click here!
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Hey! I'm Callie.
I'm a mountain-obsessed skier, hiker, and mountain biker based out of Bellingham, Wa. I am the founder of Wild Grit, teaching online courses and creating videos to guide you towards a more adventurous life.
To learn more, click here.