One of the most powerful quotes that I have come across is attributed to the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius. Now, whether Confucius actually said these words does not really matter all that much. I guess can imagine why people attribute the saying to Confucius because, of course, Confucius is one of the wisest men who ever lived.
Regardless of its origin, the quote goes something like this:
Sow a thought and you reap a word. Sow a word and you reap an action. Sow an action and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.
I hope you can understand how powerful that quote is because it is the most life-affirming and one of the most positive quotes you will ever hear. Let us face it. We live in a world where a lot of people claim that their lives are messed up. They claim that they really do not have much power over their lives and in so many words, they feel that their lives are out of control. It is as if a set of circumstances beyond their control determined their lives.
That is why they are always blaming other people; they are coming up with excuses, or they make all sorts of justifications to why they tend to make the same decisions repeatedly that produce the similar results. Do you see how depressing this could be? Do you see how powerless most people feel because of this mindset?
Well, Confucius’ quote puts things in perspective because everybody has a destiny. Everybody was put on this planet to live out some sort of story that they control. The control actually, all begins in your thoughts. Now your thoughts were not put there by somebody else. There was no mysterious being that inserted those thoughts in your mind. You chose them. By simply choosing your thought, you select ultimately your destiny. How awesome is that? How powerful is that?
This is why I love hiking. When you go hike mountains, you are reminded repeatedly of your sense of density and how your actions in the here and now lead to somewhere. It may not lead to somewhere you want to go. It may not lead to something that you would find all that positive, but it leads somewhere.
In other words, if you take an action, there is going to be a reaction. This is the law of karma in Hinduism as well as the law of sowing and reaping in Christianity. This is not the exclusive property or monopoly of any spiritual or philosophical system of thought.
Instead, this system and reality is rooted in the human experience. Whatever you choose to do now has an impact in the future. When you hike mountains, this is exactly what you lock into. Because, let us face it, hiking mountains is not easy. Have you ever looked up at a mountain range and imagined being on top of that mountain range? Do you realize how many steps it would take? Do you realize how many breaths you would have to take and how much stress you are going to put on your muscles? In other words, hiking mountains is no joke.
Still, if you were to adopt hiking as a sport, it is going to teach volumes about your own personal sense of destiny and how your power of choice, no matter how seemingly small and powerless it may be, can have a tremendous impact in all areas of your life. Here are just some of the lessons that I learned from hiking. These lessons taught me that hiking mountains, in its own way, unlocks my sense of destiny.
It is All about Starting Small
It does not matter even if you are a world-renowned hiker or whether you are a renowned hiker or an experienced one. All hikers, great or small, famous and anonymous, all start with a single step. That is right. Everybody starts small. This is a very important lesson to learn because the hiking journey ends up with you being on top of the mountain. You go from sea level to the summit, and what took you there is one small step multiplied millions of times.
I hope you understand the lesson here because it may seem that the decision that you make today does not really amount to much of anything. It is easy to feel powerless. It is pretty simple that your life has no control. However, believe me; you take a tremendous amount of control over your life when you choose to decide today. You take an immense amount of control over your life when you choose to decide now. By simply opting to make decisions and being purposeful with your decisions, you can bend the overall flow of your life to your will.
For example, if you have a drug addiction, you can decide to become clean today. If you are addicted to alcohol or tobacco, you can decide to become pure now. It may seem like a small thing, but it is a big decision because it drastically changes the trajectory of your life. You could be dying of lung cancer in five years, but because of the decision that you made today to quit smoking, you may live a few more years. That is awesome. That is a big deal, and it all begins with starting small.
Hiking is All about Working towards a Goal
The great thing about hiking is that you know you are working towards a goal. You only need to look up to see your goal. That is why it is a great exercise activity for mentally zeroing in on your ability to set goals.
Let me tell you. If you want to achieve anything worthy in life, you have to set goals. You cannot just expect success to fall into your lap. You cannot expect to end up at the right place at the opportune time doing the correct things with the appropriate results simply out of random chance. Now, do not get me wrong. It does happen from time to time; however, let me tell you, you cannot expect to get lucky to take you there.
Luck is not a winning strategy. You have to be purposeful. You have to set goals. By setting goals, you shape your reality because you put everything in a timeline and you direct your attention and effort, so they lead sooner rather than later to your goal.
Time is All in Your Mind
Another lesson I learned from hiking is that time is really all about mental processes. If you are the type of person who keeps saying to you and your fellow hikers “When are we gonna get there?” then let me tell you, it is going to feel like forever. It is going to feel like you spent weeks, if not years hiking to the summit.
Now, if you learned certain ways of focusing on where you are at each step, time becomes shorter and shorter. Your perception of time changes. You have to remember that time is really perception. Have you ever noticed that if you have a tight deadline, you tend to think faster and work faster? In other words, you are able to meet the deadline because your mental processes as well as your actions changed.
The same applies to hiking. If you have the right mindset, it does not really matter that it is going to take you a week to reach the summit. Your time horizon has changed. You are going to savor every second of that week until you reach your goal. It is all in your head. The key is to adopt the right mindset so that you enjoy the journey instead of agonizing why it is taking so long.
Everyone has a Destiny
Finally, one of the most powerful realizations that I have ever gotten from hiking is that everyone has a destiny. Nothing drives home this point more dramatically than actually ending up on a summit. I look back at how many thousands of steps I had to take to get to point A to point B to point C to where I am now.
In other words, instead of looking at the time I wasted or looking at how much it hurt or how much of a struggle it was, I view the fact that I am here on this summit, and this is what I was meant to do. You understand that there is a point to your life. You are not just a piece of plastic being tossed from one end of the ocean to the other by an angry storm. It is not like you are living in a world where you have no control.
Instead, by simply putting one foot in front of the other and looking straight at that mountain peak and using it as my goal, I set myself up to living out my destiny. Make no mistake about it. Hiking is a great activity to help you trigger this sense of destiny that everybody has. You have it. Why not use it to your advantage instead of having it work against you by making you feel small, discouraged, and unmotivated. It all boils down to your choices.