Embrace the Hills

I used to despise hills. As a reborn athlete (“athlete” term used lightly here), I dreaded approaching the hills when I was out walking or (sorta) running. I’d be cruising along at a decent pace and then I’d hit the bottom of a mild incline in the road near my home. That’s when the cursing (no profanity here of course) started in my head, “Crap. I hate this. Why am I doing this? Isn’t there an easier route I can take?”. This negativity was a daily ritual that would suck any positivity out of my efforts. Of course it took me a little while to figure out that with every uphill portion on my path, there was a welcomed downhill portion on the other side. The uphill was fearfully treacherous but the downhill was a little slice of heaven.

That’s when I finally realized that I was focusing my mindset and energy on the wrong thing. I was spending so much extra effort dreading the uphill, that I wasn’t enjoying and leveraging the downhill. The emotional taxing made me lose focus on what I was doing and why I was doing it. I was exercising to get fit, get healthy, and enjoy the beautiful nature around me (as beautiful as an average Kansas City suburb provides). Why was I fretting so much?

So I decided to intentionally transform my mindset around this and forced myself to look at each uphill portion as a challenge that I could overcome by leveraging the momentum created by the downhill part. As I raced down, I relaxed a bit more and tried to recover my breath as best I could before heading back up the hill. As I proceeded up, I intentionally lifted my head to take in the sites and sounds of the neighborhood around me and specifically look for things of beauty.

It took a little while but what I found was amazing. First of all, leveraging the downhill momentum impacted my ability to physically tackle the uphill challenge. Secondly, keeping my mindset focused on the positive things around me during the struggle, flipped a little switch in my brain to cherish the beauty while forcing the aches and pains to the back of my mind. The obstacle of the hill didn’t go away of course, but my approach to tackling it was dramatically transformed.

Couldn’t we choose to do these things during the other “hills” in our lives? When we are winning and enjoying success, couldn’t we leverage the positivity and learn from analyzing what is making us perform at those highest levels? Sure we can! We could use the momentum of learning and success to help course-correct and stay positive during the struggles we are destined to face from time to time. Use the good to counteract the bad. Use the positivity to stave off the negativity. Look for beauty and light when we are surrounded by darkness.

We will always find ourselves on a journey of ups and downs, inclines and declines, as we move through life. Let’s agree to embrace the hills, whichever way they’re facing, as they can be a source of learning, momentum and growth. There is always beauty around us, we just need to intentionally look for it on all the paths we travel.

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