Most people disregard hiking as something anyone can do. And they’re right for the most part barring extenuating circumstances, but most people don’t hike though. They prefer the easy life, the alternative to hiking. So why take part in this time honored activity in the first place? Well, that is why I give you 10 Life Lessons You’ll Learn from Hiking. It is a surefire way to get you off your butt and into the great outdoors.
From my own experience I can tell you hiking has made a difference in my life. It has reduced my anxiety, elevated my spirit, and prepared me for the long haul. If you want any of those three things in your life, then you should read this article and hike once a week.
Let’s get started.
1. You Need Nature in Your Life
There is no way around it. Everyone needs some greenery. Humans are designed to be in nature. Before we lived in cities, villages, apartments, or houses, people lived outdoors under the stars. People evolved with nature around them. You don’t see too many people doing that today. As a consequence, there is a feeling of emptiness, a void in their lives.
Nature, however, can fill the gap. You genuinely feel better after time spent outdoors. You see the bigger picture and the connection you hold with nature. People are not apart from nature, but a part of it. You hold a connection to this world.
Nature is an essential part of living. In my studio for example, I keep a small houseplant. It calms me down and I water it from time to time. Even when I forget to do so, it holds its own. The plant goes on living as much as it can. When I water it, I feel a connection to it.
2. You Appreciate Life when You Listen to the Outdoors
You don’t enjoy the fullness of a hike unless you listen. When you look at a waterfall, mountain, tree, or anything else of the sort in awe, you experience gratitude. You are thankful for the life breathing in unison around you. The greenery makes you feel better. You see yourself in the trees and plants.
Trees need sunshine, water, oxygen, and earth to grow. As long as they have that handful of items, they continue to truck along just fine. A small step can crush a fledgling plant. You appreciate the vulnerability of life and the precarious situation it finds itself in.
3. You Have to Live in the Moment to be Good at Hiking
The best hikers pay attention to every step. They watch where their hand reaches and listen to the ground beneath their feet. They anticipate the route they are about to take. Will I need to step on that stone or rock to cross the stream or is there another way around? Can I trust the branch I grab to help me cross the muddy puddle? Listen. Do you hear that? Is that a lion? When should I eat my lunch?
You pay careful attention to your movements and steps on a hike. It helps you to get through the journey ahead. The same goes for your day to day life with school, family, and/or work.
Should you really send that email? How can I make them feel better about themselves? How can I patch things up with my Aunt Bettie? What’s their body language saying? If I wanted to connect with them on a deeper level right now, how would I do so?
4. As Long as You Keep Moving Forward, You’re Winning
A trail’s incline can suck hard. The steepness slows you down and drains your muscles. You might need to step aside from time to time to take a breather. Fortunately for you though, the trail won’t be getting any longer so long as you keep moving forward in the right direction. It only gets shorter after the first step.
A house with a white picket fence, a Bachelor’s degree, a high level job, marriage to the partner of your dreams, any ‘crazy’ dream once started with a single step. So long as you keep moving at a steady pace, one foot in front of the other or one move after another, you will be fine.
It might take you a year or fifteen or twenty-five years. But if you have made it, then you’ve won.
5. A Break isn’t Quitting, it’s Rejuvenating
People always tell you to never stop hustling, to always strive for more and more. Unless you’re some special type of person, it’s exhausting. Those people are wrong.
When taking a break on a hike, you step aside, grab some water, and appreciate what you have accomplished. You see how far you have come and anticipate what awaits you on the trail ahead. You feel better to then tackle what’s ahead.
Wherever you are headed off the trail, you need to step back, catch your breath, and reassess from time to time. The break might seem like a cop out, but it is essential for thinking about what awaits you. You clear your mind on a breather. It gives your brain time to pop an idea into your head. You then have a way forward.
6. Life is a Marathon, not a Sprint
In other words, you don’t need to rush things. You may have gotten lost going in circles on the first ten miles, but you can become the comeback kid in the last sixteen. Some of us walk. Others sprint. We are not competing against others, but facing off against ourselves. If you are in a better position than you were six months, a year, or ten years ago, then you have made progress. The progress can be intellectual, spiritual, physical, career, or anything else of the sort.
Only you can tell yourself whether or not you have made progress.
We need to slow down from time to time. It makes us appreciate what we have. We can think of a better way forward. Slower walkers aren’t stupid. They’re contemplating their next move.
7. Technology isn’t an Essential to Live Life
You really don’t need it. You can get by without it. Turn your phone off and get to hiking. It will help you appreciate life more and the uniqueness of the time we live in.
For some of us, we cannot get by without checking social media. I’m here to remind you there was a time before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. People made connections with one another face to face. They relied on a personal, empathetic touch to connect, not a few clicks. The personal connection is still true. People value face to face connections.
8. The World is a Beautiful Place
Life looks amazing at the summit. You don’t need a phone to appreciate the view. In fact, it is better with your own two eyes unable to take a snapshot. Use your memory. You will appreciate the mental picture. The best memories often are not the ones you can find in a Snapchat story.
9. Meaningful Success is Hard Work
It is easy to find ways to feel like you’re doing something when you are really not. Take email for instance. Most of the time, my inbox is full of nothing. I can go a day, even a week without checking it and I will be just fine. Sending and receiving email matters little. It is just a time sink at this point.
Sometimes a career turns into a job and we feel like we’re just running around in circles doing bits of nothing over and over again.
A hike reminds you of something else. You have to keep moving forward at a steady pace to get what you want, no ifs, and’s, or but’s. It takes a long time compared to the instant gratification machine of social media. You don’t feel anything after you take the first step, but you feel powerful after completing the journey. Social media does not provide an equivalent.
You have to roll up your sleeves, strap on your backpack, and prepare for the long road ahead if you want something special.
10. It’s Always Worth it in the End
Many people say, “life is about the journey, not the destination.” And they’re right, but the view is also pretty sweet. Life’s journey makes a lot more sense from the summit than at the trail head. You can see everything you went through at the top of the mountain.
The journey might have been difficult and downright dangerous at times, but you were never really in harm’s way. It was in your mind. After rolling up your sleeves and grabbing the shovel, you just had to scale those mental obstacles.
You’ll Need Some Boots for Your Next Hike
I hope this short article inspired you to get off your butt and plan your next hike. I know it was a joy for me to write it. You should be all set to go.
Before you head off though, you are sure to need some boots. I’m going to be real with you for a second. It takes time and hard work for me to write what you see here. If you enjoyed this piece, want more like it, or are looking for some footwear for your next hike, then you should check out one of my previous articles, The Best Men’s Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots of 2019 (I update these types of articles annually and they come in comparable women’s pairs :)).
Check it out! These are the best boots you will find by a wide margin.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!