Found again at last
04.12.2011 45 °F
Over 2 years ago in the summer of 2009, I spent 3 weeks in a place called Philmont. For those who aren't familiar with Philmont, it's a Boy Scout high adventure base in New Mexico just south of the New Mexico and Colorado border. I took part in an 11 day backpacking trek there in the summer 2007 and fell in love with the place. It's been nicknamed "God's Country" by many, and I'll tell you, they don't call it that for nothing. I returned in 2009 as part of a 3 week Rayado trek with 7 other guys who I had never met, but are some of my best friends now because of the things we accomplished together during those 3 weeks. Those 3 weeks were the best experience of my life to date, and has only been rivaled since by my study abroad experience. We'll see where the two stack up when I get home in a couple weeks and can have a chance to reflect. On this 3 week experience, our two staff guides immersed us in what would be known as the "Solo" experience.
During the morning of this solo experience, all maps, compasses, watches, and GPS devices were removed from our 8 person crew. We soon veered off a trail and down ravines and over some hills. I still to this day don't have the slightest clue where in God's Country (or in God's name for that matter) we were taken. The guides split the 8 of us up, one by one, in complete and utter silence. We were all taken to random places and given a water bottle, sleeping bag, journal, and tent rain fly. Nothing more. With the exception of when they brought me small amounts of food, I passed the next 48 hours until they returned alone. I knew we were at around 10,000 feet altitude, but that was about it. It rained twice, and was a constant struggle to keep the shelter I built from blowing away to keep my down sleeping bag dry, essential for warmth during the night.
During these 48 hours, I wrote a lot in that journal, which I took with me to Europe during my semester abroad. Unfortunately, one of the things that I did not write down were the 6 L's to Happiness that I came up with while I was there during that solo experience. I remembered them for the rest of that trip but for some reason never wrote them down. I couldn't remember them when I got home months later, and then they came back to me at one point, but I forgot to write them down, again. I told them to an old girlfriend at one point, but she doesn't have them anymore either since they were erased when we parted ways last year. Every now and then I try to remember what they are, and all I can come up with is Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn, which is all over Google and every high school girl's tumblr page. But for whatever reason when I was in Paris with my family last week for a few days, they all came back to me. All six. So I quickly wrote them down, and I wanted to write a short blog about them in the hopes that you'll save them somewhere too instead of losing them for 2 years like I did. This was one of the greatest things I got out of Rayado, one of the greatest experiences of my life, so I hope you'll get as much from these as I did and still do.
My friend caught me sleeping on a beautiful morning on Rayado
One of the questions that keeps coming to mind as a wrap up my time in Europe and my study abroad experience and look back at these 3.5 months is, would I be happy with what I did today and the way I lived today if I died tomorrow? It seems like an extreme question to ask sometimes, but I try to remind myself of it as often as I can now. Instead of taking all the short cuts in life to get to where you're going faster, why not take the long road? Why not see what's around that other corner instead of walking home the normal way. Sometimes life's greatest adventures and experiences are right around the corner, and you'll never find them if you don't take a chance and look. Take chances, take risks, and do your best to make sure that when you wake up tomorrow morning, you don't have any regrets about today.
One of my favorite quotes from my 800 page Ralph Waldo Emerson book reads as follows, "My life is for itself and not for a spectacle." I think you should strive to live your life every minute of every day exactly the way you want it to be lived. You should live it for what you want it to be and not for what anyone else thinks it should be. When I look at my life sometimes, I question myself for how true I am being to myself. And if you're not and you're letting other people make decisions for you when you know you'd rather be doing something else, you aren't living your life, you're living the life someone else would rather see you live. It's something worth thinking about to me, and I do my best to make sure I live my life the way I want it to be lived so when I get old some day I don't have a lot of regrets.
Someone read me a quote recently and I don't remember where it was from exactly, but I found it to be especially useful to me as I'm preparing to graduate from college in 6 months: "Don't be so concerned with making a living that you forget to live." It's pretty simple honestly, but it's something that so many people forget about in this rush to work society we live in. Everyone is so concerned with making a living, getting the highest paying job they can, and falling into a routine of constant work that they forget to live sometimes. I hope to have a decent job when I graduate, but if I'm more concerned with the monthly paycheck than enjoying what it is I'm being paid to do, something isn't right to me. Remember to Live.
They say that life is better if you just remember to smile every now and then, and I think it's true. (How many of you just smiled?) Laughing is part of smiling, and I think it's important to laugh as much as you can. Life is meant to be enjoyed! So if you're not laughing and smiling, you're doing something wrong. I also think it's important to laugh not just at the world around you (in a good way) and funny moments, but it's important to laugh at yourself sometimes. Don't be too hard on yourself and don't take life too seriously that you forget to laugh at yourself and have some fun. Remember too that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. If you make a mistake, try to laugh at yourself next time, learn from it, and move on. It's good for you, I promise. I never met a happy person who didn't know how to laugh from time to time, so try it.
This goes hand in hand with so many things. Love your family, love your friends, love what you do (if you don't, find something else to do), but I think when looking at those things, you first have to love yourself and your life, and love it for what it is. If you can do this first, the rest will follow and be infinitely more rewarding. Love your family because when everything else in life falls, they'll still be standing there with you. Love your friends, because they've always got your back, and you learn so much from them. You only get into something what you put in, so love your family and love your friends and you'll be loved in return. And if you're not, you've got the wrong friends.
This is one of the ones that I came up with on my own to add to the L idea, largely because I was alone in the woods for 48 hours by myself. You listen to things around you subconsciously, and you learn a surprising amount of things sometimes if you just take a minute to stop and listen to the world around you. With listening comes learning too, which I keep mentioning and will get to at the end. I think it's important to listen to not only what's around you (for me that was in nature at the time), but also to listen to the people around you. Friends. Family. You learn from them more than you think. Listen to what they have to say and value their insight, it will benefit you later in life. Listen to your parents too. You won't always want to and you won't always agree with what they have to say (I know I still don't), but they have your best interests in mind and are there to protect you. So whether you want to or not, listen to them. Sometimes listening to friends, family, or nature around you brings peace too if you let it in, so I think it's important to listen to what's around you to find happiness.
This is the second of the six that I came up with on my own during that solo time, and might seem kind of odd to some. How is losing a step to finding happiness? But for me it's like a lot of other things in life, when you're broken down you tend to build yourself back up stronger and better prepared for next time. You learn from nearly everything you'll ever lose, whether it's a family member you wish you could have spent more time with or a your keys at a party because you drank too much. If you never lose anything, you'll never learn how to be better prepared for next time, and you'll never build yourself back up as a stronger person in the future. It's also really cliché to say, but if you never lose something you'll never know how much (or how little) you really had in the first place. So I think it's important to lose sometimes to find happiness, especially at those rare moments in life when you lose something and realize how much happier you are without it. But you wouldn't have known that without losing something in the first place. It breaks us down but allows us to come back stronger and better for it. Part of losing though is learning to pick yourself back up.
Everything I've already mentioned seems to come back to this somehow. You have to be willing to lose to learn how to pick yourself back up. If you listen to what's around, you'll learn from what's around and hopefully learn how to take from those experiences and incorporate them into your own life. You learn from your family and you learn from your friends, and you learn from loving them in many ways. You learn from your own mistakes and you learn how to avoid them in the future. You learn from everything you do in life, and knowledge is power. The more you learn and know, the happier you can be. Try to learn as much as you can from the people and the world around you, it'll help you figure out who you are a lot of times and will make you happier as a result.
So in summary, if you want to find happiness, it starts here with these. Live, laugh, love listen, lose, and learn. I don't think I've found anything that made me happy in my life that can't be somehow traced back to these simple ideas. They serve as a nice reminder and reality check sometimes too. I try to continually reevaluate my life week in and week out to make sure I'm where I want to be and if I'm not happy with something I want to know why so I can understand it and hopefully fix it. It always comes back to these. I hope people have enjoyed reading this, and if anyone has any feedback or comments on this idea I'd love to hear them too! Too cliché? Funny? Dumb? Thoughtful? Enlightening? Different?