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Your thoughts have one of the biggest impacts on how happy you are – or aren’t as the case may be. Hiking is a great way to become aware of those thoughtsthe and then replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. Here’s how:
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When you look up and see a big mountain you’re about to climb, what’s your first reaction? Is it something like;
a) Holy Cow, that’s ginormous. I’ll never make it. I’m not fit enough. Besides, I don’t even like hiking that much.
b) This is going to be great, the views are going to be A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. You’re going to be able to bounce a quarter off my butt when I’m done climbing this sucker.
You can guess which response will make your climb easier, not to mention more enjoyable. Negative thinking leads to gloomy experiences and it can be so ingrained in us that we’re not even aware of it – or the impact it’s having in our daily life.
Related Reading: How a Hiking Trip Can Change Your Life and Why You Should Do One
60,000 Thoughts a Day
We think an average of 60,000 thoughts every single day. That’s three times more than we breathe! But we don’t notice most of them since most of them are subconscious. Just like you probably brush your teeth every morning without having to write a reminder, we’ve created mental habits for ourselves on autopilot. We do it without thinking about it.
Besides, we’re normally too busy checking social media to see if our ex-boyfriend has posted any photos of him and his new girlfriend, or binge-watching the latest season of the Real Housewives of New York. When there are so many distractions it’s difficult to be aware of whether our mindset is serving or hindering us.
And if we don’t hear our inner voice, we have no way of knowing whether it’s encouraging us with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader at the Super Bowl or our evil nemesis trying to sabotage us 60,000 times a day.
Related Reading: Hiking for Beginners: How to Start Hiking with Confidence
How to Observe Your Thoughts
When we’re hiking, we become more aware of these thoughts because there are no distractions.
That self-awareness is the first key step in learning how we talk to ourselves and our overall outlook on life.
So when you find yourself hiking up a steep section and you’re huffing and puffing and feel like your heart will burst out of your chest at any moment, become aware of whether you’re saying something to yourself like;
a) I’ll never make it. There’s still so far to go. If I turn around now, I’ll have time to pick up some chocolate chip cookies before the bakery closes.
b) I’ve made great progress, I think I’ll take a little break to enjoy the views before continuing on.
Be honest, what’s the emotional reaction that you’d most likely have? If it’s something negative, try repeating a positive affirmation to yourself during the difficult sections.
One of my personal favorites is I am fit and fast. Or on days when that seems like too much of a stretch from reality I’m getting closer to my goal with very step.
Is it cheesy? Yup. Does it work? You bet!
Try it on your next hike. It’s a powerful technique that will reveal a lot about your current mindset and helps stop negative beliefs in their tracks.
Related Reading: Best Hiking Backpacks: Our Top Choices for Every Budget
Change Your Thoughts To Change Your Life
Positive self-talk not only makes your hike easier, it will also make your entire life flow more effortlessly and you’ll feel happier than you ever thought possible.
Thought patterns tend to be pretty consistent whereever we are, so our self-talk while hiking is likely to be the same in other areas of our lives.
It’s just easier to notice our self-talk and beliefs when we’re hiking. We’re not rushing to meet yet another impossible work deadline, or wiping your kid’s lunch off the wall while simultaneously trying to pitch to your boss why now is the time for pet rocks to make their comeback in an online conference call. OK, so how does one actually reframe their thinking?
If you’ve had a lousy date and your response is, All the good single guys are taken. I’ll never meet anyone. Your irrational thinking has just made the dating process a whole lot less enjoyable. Not to mention increased your anxiety about the “good man shortage”.
Instead, you could call your best friend, have a good laugh and a sense of humor about the fact that your date’s mother still picks out his clothes for him.
Besides, you know that there are good single guys out there – even if you haven’t met one in a while that you’re interested in dating.
Become aware of your thoughts. If you’re not yet living the life of your dreams, whether that’s living by the beach, getting paid to do work you love ,or being in a great relationship, you’re likely unconsciously sabotaging yourself by thinking negative thoughts.
The good news is that you have the opportunity to change your life 60,000 times a day through your thinking.
I can hear your protests; But I really am broke, hate my job and don’t make money from my art and if I say to myself “I am rich and make money doing work that I love,” I’ll know that’s a bunch of B.S. Fair enough.
Related Reading: Best Hikes in Europe: Your Ultimate Guide of Where and When to Go
Think the Next Best Thought You Can Manage
A thought that you can actually believe (along with an action that you can implement). For example, “I’m excited to make my unicorn art a priority and commit to working on it for an hour each day. That way, I’ll have enough to sell at the farmer’s market next month which will bring me extra money doing something I love.”
If you’ve been telling yourself the equivalent of “You’re a loser and you suck” for years, you’re not going to suddenly believe that you’re frickin’ awesome – even though you totally are.
Negative thought patterns weren’t created overnight and they won’t dissolve overnight either – it’s a process. So start with a thought that you can believe, combine it with a small action step and you’ll be one step closer to the amazing version of yourself that you envision.
It’s similar to hiking. You can’t get the view from the top of the mountain just by thinking positive thoughts about hiking it, you have to actually lace up your hiking boots and climb the mountain. And you do it step by step.
Also check out this worksheet with instructions on how to change your self-talk.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
Learning to reprogram your thoughts is a habit so start when you’re hiking and have hours of practise without distractions and when you’re more aware of what you’re thinking. I’ve found this technique to be incredibly useful . I do it on every hike as a way to check in with myself and give myself a mindset tuneup if needed.
The combination of positive thinking and action is a magic elixir that both literally and figuratively helps you climb out of a valley and up the mountain where success awaits! Plus, it makes the journey so much more enjoyable. Each step you take leads you closer to your goal but it takes time. Just as ou don’t reach the peak in one giant step, you don’t reach your goals in one giant step either.