Hiking Lesson

Relearning Healthy Habits

By Christina Staff,
Healthy Planet Staff Writer

Walking stick in hand and water nearing his knees, my son was not at all concerned about getting wet feet, as he was determined to forge his own path through the creek. With the world at your fingertips and the luxury of innocence on your side, everything seems achievable when you’re six. When exactly is it we lose that larger-than-life imagination, that dreamer’s momentum? We become adults who incur challenges and suddenly, that list of what we can do turns into the list of what we can’t. Chasing opportunities transitions to finding excuses; a tough habit to break once it’s taken hold. Perhaps a six-year-old’s spirit can help us relearn the good habits we’ve forgotten?

Ever the fearless leader during our afternoon hike through the nature preserve, my son was completely immersed in the moment. At one point, he slowed to point out thorn bushes and thoughtfully suggested I be cautious of them. The rocks, he also pointed out, “were a bit slippery.” His attention to detail was refreshing in a world where overstimulation leads us to often miss what’s right in front of our eyes. We spend nearly every waking moment concerned about what comes next instead of being grateful for where we are and soaking in the experiences. He was simply happy to be spending quality time together, and his little mind was a sponge absorbing all the details. Make a habit of appreciating the now.

Emerging from the creek, we hiked across a field where floodwaters had recently subsided. Ever walked through a muddy, chisel-plowed field? From knee-high water to knee-high mud, we trudged across the open field toward another ravine to explore. I bet you can guess what happened next? Yes, he took another step and lost a boot. Balancing on one boot and that beloved walking stick, he stepped down into the mud with his socked foot. But, never did that smile leave his face. In-between fits of laughter, we fought to free the stuck boot, and on his way he went. No complaints. No excuses. Because that path wasn’t easy, I know several adults who would have thrown in the towel, or walking stick, when things got tough. But, not him. He found the humor and kept going. Stop making excuses.

As the afternoon wore on, as did our energy. We were fighting fatigue despite our snack breaks. With the hike finally over, we settled back into the car (all muddy boots accounted for), and my son looked at me with pride in his eyes before commenting, “That was a good hike! Can you believe I lost that boot? I still made it, though!” With his smile, you would have thought we scaled Everest versus exploring our own local countryside. To him, he had conquered the mountain. And, just like that, his attention was diverted to something else. He had celebrated his achievement. Clap for yourself.

Similar to hiking, anything in life worth doing is going to incur resistance, and you’re probably going to get stuck in the mud every now and again. It’s a positive mindset that determines if and how we progress along the path. Make a habit of appreciating each moment; stop making excuses when the going gets tough; and, cheer for yourself when you reach those goals, no matter how small. “People do not decide their futures; they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” Keep that quote by F.M. Alexander in mind when considering how impactful our habits can be in determining the path we take in life. Then ask yourself, are your current habits moving you along the path, or are you stuck in the mud? I can tell you what my six-year-old will say… keep going.

About the author: As a freelance writer, Christina loves nothing more than providing readers with inspirational, positive, and relatable stories of success through tales of hard work and perseverance. Reach out through email at: christina@christinastaff.com.