What is it about nature that brings out the best in us? Hiking, for example, gives us instant perspective. We’re able to see things clearly that have been muddy for weeks. We find solutions to complicated dilemmas. We’re able to understand things from other points of view. We feel victorious after conquering a mountain. So, where does our courage come from? What makes us suddenly feel heroic in challenging territory? And most importantly, how do we apply those feelings to the other aspects of our lives?
Observing a majestic landscape takes us to an immediate state of awe. We become mesmerized, unable to blink or look away. We breathe deeper, exhale more fully. Suddenly we become small, life shrinks, concerns evaporate, and cares disintegrate right before our eyes. We are instantly engaged, focused on the terrain in front of us, completely absorbed by the depth of the trail surrounding us. What happens to us in nature is nothing less than a transformational masterpiece. What is it about nature that gives us confidence and brings out the best in us?
Our family recently returned from a long holiday weekend playing in Southern Utah; the red sand majestic mountains embrace you like a dear friend and the cathedral of Zion feels like an extraordinary painting you walk in to. Being encircled by such extreme beauty leads us internally to a place of awe, wonder, and peace.
During one of our hikes, a family member and I greeted the opportunity to overcome an obstacle of fear. We stood at the edge of the cliff, a thousand feet above mountain terrain, and looked straight down to the depths of the valley below. Some visitors, new to hiking, kept their distance, uneasy about going to the edge. This was good practice for me. In the past, I would have been frightened.
I was not a hiker until I became an adult. My mother was afraid of the wilderness and I did not come from a hiking family. I looked at this time as a unique opportunity to become better than I was before. I spoke kindly to any negative thought that came up, assuring myself I was safe, and that this was a place of learning and adventure that few people ever experience in their lifetime.
Whenever an uneasy thought came up, I met it with compassion, confidence, and reassurance. I was reprogramming a fear of heights. Fear of falling is said to be a human beings only innate fear. As my goal is to continuously become a better hiker, I have chosen to overcome any fears that are presumed or passed down from previous generations.
Hiking gives us a sense of strength and determination that is unmatched by other sports, as it truly is a feast for all the senses. Hiking teaches confidence in a strategic way often taught at learning camps or corporate retreats, as employees and students challenge themselves past fears on varied ropes courses. I have discovered that overcoming obstacles in nature makes you a better team member, a better student, a better executive, a better spouse, and in general a better person. Having chosen to challenge myself with a seasonal ropes course via nature, I look at these outings as opportunities to become stronger and more confident; not only physically, but mentally, than I was the time before.
Overcoming obstacles in nature teaches us essential skills to develop our best self like: confidence, patience, strength, trust, mind over matter, unplugging, connection, collaboration, introspection, achievement, and how the world is big. Practicing these traits makes us better at what we do and who we are.
Confidence through nature is the art of taking all the learning from a hiking excursion and applying it to daily life. This is a tremendous way for us to grow. Without overcoming obstacles, we are slow, stagnant, and frequently stuck. Having strong visual images you can refer to and feelings of accomplishment from actual achievement can guide you steadily around things that get in your way, and propel you forward confidently in the direction of manifesting your dreams.
Going for it
What are some ways that you overcome obstacles in your life, moving you closer to your Best Self? Have you ever gained confidence through nature?
If not, grab some good hiking shoes, a backpack, throw in some protein bars, fresh fruit, and sunscreen, check your camera phone for a panorama option, pick your trail map, remember water…and head for the hills. Your confidence may just depend on it!