Lessons from the Alps

I have spent the past five months living with my partner in the French Alps. We are of the belief that life is for living, and we wanted to do this adventure while our bodies were still young enough to cope with the rigours of skiing on a daily basis. (However, having met an 83-year old man who has spent every season for the past 20 years in the same village, perhaps we shouldn’t have worried so much!)

We had a blast, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves being outside. The skies were blue, the air fresh and the time away from a normal routine allowed so many more ideas to come to me. My skiing improved enormously, but even more important to me, the experience taught me a lot of things about how to live a fulfilling and rewarding life.

The following are my top nine lessons:

1. Don’t think too much

Sometimes you can over-analyse or over-think a situation and your whirring brain will mean that you can’t see the obvious. I found that when I actually turned my brain off, I felt much more in control and in the moment and my body knew exactly what needed to be done. I felt free and everything felt really easy.

Often in our lives we can get too obsessed about something and our brain can go into overdrive. All you need to do is step away and allow your body, mind and soul to figure it out by itself.

2. Trust yourself

There is much to be said about believing in yourself. If you just believe and know that you have the skills to deal with a situation, then it is much easier to find a solution. When you start to imagine what can go wrong, or listen to the chatter in your head, which says you can’t do it, then it will all seem very hard and cumbersome. By truly believing in yourself and that deeper knowing you will be able to achieve more than you currently think is possible.

3. Comparison will get your no-where

If you always compare yourself with others you will always fall short. It seems to be human nature to compare yourself to those who are better than you, and ignore all those people you compare favourably with, and as a result you only ever feel inadequate.  There is also no need to compare yourself with others as you are unique, with a unique story, past, skills, thoughts and desires. Everyone else has their own stories, skills, experiences and thoughts and they aren’t comparable.

4. Learn from others

Although comparison is unhelpful, if you spend time with people who are more skilled than you in a certain area, you can learn from them. By spending time with people who were slightly faster on the slopes I too picked up my speed. Without even knowing, they helped me improve as I was able to watch and learn from them.

There are huge benefits from surrounding yourself with people who inspire you.

5. Stay positive

If you think it’s going to be hard, it will be. If you think you can’t do it, you probably won’t. But on the flip side if you think positively, then it all becomes easy.

When I thought a slope was “too hard” for me, I would notice that I’d fall over on it. If I thought “oh this isn’t too bad” then I managed to ski down fairly easily. The brain is one amazing and powerful organ. Use it to your advantage.

6. Success comes from small actions

Achieving success doesn’t just happen. One moment you aren’t unskilled and the next moment you are an expert. Each improvement is actually a set of much smaller steps and each time you push your boundary just a little bit more you are on your way to achieving your goal.

I found that pushing my boundaries and trying something new lead to huge levels of satisfaction. With each small step you realize that you can do it, and all of a sudden you feel that anything is possible.

7. When you fall, get back up

When you fall over, sitting there and wallowing will get you no-where. You need to get back on that horse (or those skis!) and keep on going. Practice makes permanence so by keeping on going you are getting that step closer to having a skill you no longer need to think about. What was once seen as impossible will all of a sudden become your every day reality.

8. Plan ahead, but focus on the now

Yes you need to know where you want to get too, but if you spend too much of your focus on the future you won’t enjoy the moment. You’ll also miss that small bump ahead of you!

When you can just be in that moment, and look at what is happening “right now” you get to enjoy the journey. When you are totally aware of the now you find total fulfillment and happiness. Nothing else matters – neither the past nor the future.

9. Celebrate the successes

Along the journey there will be milestones that you will reach. Some of them you will have planned and others will come along as a surprise!

Celebrate each little success, whether you expected it or not! Take time to see how far you have come and celebrate that journey. Pat yourself on the back. Jump for joy if that helps. Do whatever you need to do to acknowledge the process and where you are now.

And perhaps there is a number 10.

Do it again!

Find as many ways as possible to keep adding new experiences to your life. Each experience will teach you something, will add to your skills and will give you something to look back on with a smile on your face.

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