Last summer, my girlfriend and I embarked on an adventurous hike up Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. And as we walked up the seemingly never ending path, fought off bird sized insects, and hoped not to fall to our certain deaths, I found a strange sense of peace in it all.
I was literally drenched in sweat from the 3 hour non-stop uphill battle, my legs cramping up, and as we approached the mile long rock scramble to the summit, I stopped to take a long look over the gorgeous valley below.
It was an exhilarating moment and I knew from reading the hiker's guide and hearing from a few other passer-by's that it was treacherous at the top and I was slightly concerned about what exactly was lying in store for us.
Well it didn't take long to find out.
A helicopter performing a summit rescue of an injured hiker, coming face to face with a highly venomous eastern diamondback rattlesnake, sheer drop off cliffs, oppressing heat and humidity, and a path that seemed to go on forever.
But I had a few thoughts: If I don't manage to fall off the mountain, die from heat exhaustion, or get bitten in the face by a rattlesnake, I will come out of this not only with a great experience and having seen a breathtaking view of this National Forest, but I will be a stronger person because of it.
I saw a number of people retreating down the mountain, not willing to tackle the challenge of the rock scramble and I sure as shit wasn't going to be one of them.
And after 7+ hours of hiking, we finally made it back to the base of the mountain.
It's amazing what the mind does when in such an environment and this experience made me think of all the ways life is wonderful but also all the ways in which it is trying to kill us.
Here are 5 ways life will try to kill you:
1) It wastes your time
Life doesn't care about your time or mine. It just passes with remarkable speed. I was looking through my high school yearbook the other night and realized it's been 27 years since I graduated. That's a lifetime! I've done a lot of shit in my life but I still have to marvel at how fast time passes and how much closer I am to being a senior citizen!
We are going to wake up one day and be old; too old to do the shit we really wanted to do during our lives. That's a scary thought.
I value my time immensely and when I'm not spending it wisely, I feel like shit. It's because I know I am one day closer to my last and didn't use my time in the best way I could have.
What are we waiting for? Enough money? Enough vacation time? Enough confidence to take action?
Yes. All of it. But it doesn't work.
One of my favorite quotes is:
"Most people tiptoe their way through life hoping they make it safely to death"-Earl Nightingale
And it's so true. So many of us eek our way through a life filled with uninspiring things and it's an incredible tragedy.
Why not make a choice today to live your life in a way that makes you come alive each day?!?
2) It drains your health
It happens to almost all of us. We think with our stomachs and end up fat. Well, not fat, but fatter than we want to be. Even me, a fitness coach who thrives on staying as fit as possible falls victim to eating the occasional jelly filled Dunkin Donut. OK, maybe more than occasional but don't judge me...
Why? It tastes so damn good and it's easy to get. We can find junk food and fast food anywhere and with our busy on-the-go lives, it's all too simple to stop to satisfy our cravings for sugar and fat.
Over the course of 20 or 30 years, what do you think this does to our bodies. I'll show you.
Below is a range of men with varying body fat levels. A healthy range would be the top 3 and the unhealthy range at the bottom. It's no surprise that more that roughly 35% of Americans have body fat levels above 30%, which is considered obese.
The solution? It's going to boil down to a few major things (and a lot of small ones):
- Eating the right foods in the right amounts
- Exercising consistently
- Using progressive strength training and HIIT workouts together, like in this program.
- Your genetic make up
- Your commitment level to getting healthy
- Your sleep habits
- Your water consumption
- Your stress levels
- Your testosterone levels
3) It lies to your face
You can't do it. You aren't good enough. You can't quit your job. You can't climb this mountain. You are weak. You need help.
Sound familiar? These conversations roll around in our heads constantly and royally fuck us up. And it's all bullshit. They are nothing more than lies that our subconscious mind feeds us because over the course of our lifetimes, we have told it to.
I didn't quit my job for more than 10 years because the lie "you need this job to survive" played in my head 24/7.
Sure there was the fear of failing at something else and regretting my decision, but the real regret lies in not trying because of it.
What are the lies rattling around in your head? You may think they are reality, but I know for a fact they aren't.
I know because I proved them wrong. I made the decision to leave my "stable" job and start my own business. It's been almost three years know and it a constant hustle, but it's so worth it and I'd do it over again in a second.
4) It shits in your Wheaties
Let's face it, life loves to throw us some shit. Of course we can call it a "challenge", but a shit is a shit.
You're going to have people that treat you poorly, talk down to you, and manipulate you. You're going to get passed over for that promotion, forgotten by those you wish would remember, and taken for granted by those who love you.
But this is part of life and nothing more than simple events. We just need to remember that it's not what happens to us, what someone says about us, or what shitty things fall in our laps. It's only in how we handle these things that dictates the outcome.
"Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them." -Epictetus
The only way negative things happen is if we choose to view them as negatives. The only way for the slow driver in front of you to piss you off is if you let him. And the only way for your life to suck is if you allow it.
Rise above all that.
5) It poisons your soul
Not trying to get all philosophical here, but I believe we all have spirits. Not like ghosts or anything supernaturally freaky like that, but more like when you think of a child having a gentle spirit.
And our spirits can be profoundly affected by our experiences. Take for example the sweet-natured, always-doing-the-right-thing kind of kid who is drafted into the Vietnam War. He is put in a position to see the worst man has to offer and is surrounded by hatred, fear, and death constantly.
When that sweet kid returns home he is no longer the same person. His spirit has been changed and his view on life is skewed to reflect all the awful things he witnessed and experienced.
Our world is filled with toxicity. We see greed, hate, death, and anger at every corner. From the nightly news, to mainstream media, to our schools. The world, as beautiful as it is, can be a very bad place. And we made it that way.
Being able to filter out the bad in order to see the good is an acquired skill. Most of us will fall victim to all the negativity and we won't even know it.
Surround yourself with positive people and positive situations. Stop watching CSI and pick up a book. Put down the video game controller and go for a walk. Call your mother, reconnect with an old friend, or donate something to charity.
Do good things and good things happen.
Be A Survivor
Of course we ALL have the power to control how we view our world's. We can choose at any point to turn our lives into something truly spectacular.
The question is will you do it?