It’s just before dawn and the air is cold enough to that it hurts just a little to breathe. I can hear each ski: slide and crunch, slide and crunch as I slowly make my way upwards. I am here to do a simple thing that I love …. climb up a mountain and slide back down it. I am lucky but maybe not for the reasons that one would think.
I am lucky because I have skis to slide on, coffee and a breakfast burrito in my belly to fuel me, a jacket to keep me warm, and a stout truck with gas in it to get me to the mountains. This is all true but it is not what I am thinking of when I say “I am lucky”. I am also lucky because I live close to snowy mountains, time available, and loved ones who understand that this is important to me but these are also not what I am thinking of when I say “I am lucky”. What I am thinking about when I say I am lucky is; I know I enjoy climbing up a mountain to slide back down it and I make sure to do it. I feel lucky to know that doing what I dig makes life better.
Some 18 years ago I was living in the little town of Nederland, CO. It’s a sweet little mountain town but I was too depressed to really enjoy it. As I muddled my way through this very challenging time in my life I came across this idea of doing stuff I like. It was a pretty simple thought process. It seemed to me that part of what had lead to my depression was a focus on things in life that I didn’t like. This focus was often veiled in the seemingly constructive process of “self improvement” but non-the-less it was hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second a focus on things in my life that I didn’t like. Well, it struck me that if that was part of how I had got me into this mess, maybe the reverse would help me get out. Sure enough if that may have been the best thing I have ever thought of!
Practically speaking, I started by simply making a list of things that I like. Given that I was depressed at the time, the list was short and hard won. For example one of the things on my list was “eating pizza”. Once I had my list, I made sure to do at least one thing on it every day. The theory was that maybe I could sort of tip the balance in my mind from focusing my attention from things in my life that I didn’t like to things that I did. Well I don’t think I need to say that it was amazingly effective!
My thinking on this is that happiness (or contentment or whatever) is a 51% proposition. That is to say, as long as 51% of any day of is spent focused on things that I like (or even feel just okay about) …. the day feels good. I guess we could even take this thinking another step …. it really boils down to 1% …. if my focus is 1% more positive than it is negative then the day is a success. All of this is a long winded way of saying; doing what I dig makes life my better!
I smell pine trees and snow flakes. I hear my heart beating in my ears. The contrast between my exposed nose and the warmth under my layers draws my attention. I see my ski buddy ahead of me laboring in the same way. The moment feels crisp as my life worries recede and are replaced by a focus on the simple pleasure of moving slowly up a big snowy mountain.
Author: Haj Khalsa