Raw//Live//Local

Keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds.


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Wanna be happy? Here’s how

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Our thoughts and perspectives shape us. The personal stories that we create about who we are and how we got here are what make us the people we are. Happiness is the same. It is not a result of circumstances but of a mindset, a piece of our identity that must be cultivated so that it lives within us, no matter what comes our way. Everyone is on a journey to happiness, but it’s time to realize that everything we need is within us. It’s not about looking for something but tapping into what already exists within us, and stripping away the things that hold us back from true happiness. Here are some ways to do that.

1. Train your brain

Our thoughts create grooves in our brains that become the building blocks for our habits and personalities. Every thought we have creates matter and over time the thoughts that we nurture become our identity. So, to change our outer circumstances we must first change our inner circumstances by cultivating healthy thoughts, even if we don’t believe them at first.

This means having healthy self talk, being positive, assuring, loving and kind in your head in every situation. First, you must become aware of your thought patterns, and then consciously make the effort to create different thoughts. Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways we can do this, as it makes us focus on the little things that matter, like a thank you note from your boss, instead of the things that don’t, like that idiot talking way too loud in the gym.

2. Know that getting what you want doesn’t always necessarily make things better

We all have goals. Get a promotion, save more money, take a trip, find a new lover, whatever. Goals are great because they give us a clear vision of what we want so that we can create a way to get there. It’s important to remember, however, that the achievement of our goals comes with issues of their own, and that they won’t ultimately change our level of happiness. This is because as humans we look to the next big thing as soon as we get what we want. Ie you get your promotion, which involves learning a new skill that you haven’t had to work on yet. Or, you meet someone amazing you have a real connection with, and then you start wondering when they’ll tell you they love you.

We are constantly evolving, changing, growing. The only way to ensure happiness is to commit to it now, and not look to the future for it. No matter what the circumstance, to resolve to be happy so that you know that when things change, for better or for worse, you’ll still be happy.

3. Do things that are good for yourself

Call an old friend, join a sports team, ride a rollercoaster. We have these rigid ideals of what constitutes being a good human, and they usually involve lots of stress and very little self-nurturing. Being gentle on ourselves and doing something every day that makes us feel whole and happy is the best thing we can do for ourselves. It makes us more sincere human beings capable of focusing on the needs of others because we first value the needs of ourselves. Have fun, be lighthearted, and do what makes you feel good, because that’s the only way to be happy all the time.

 

 


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I made it to the top of an active volcano and it really hurt

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Eight grueling hours of hiking the steepest and slipperiest slope I’ve ever come across in my life.

It started harmlessly. A long walk up a rural path dotted with simple homes and farm animals snuffing out their breakfast at around 6 AM.

By the time we got to the entrance of the hike, however, I was sweating profusely.

We trekked out through the beautiful jungle accompanied by the sounds of howler monkeys and birds. Weaving up through varying terrain and surrounded by tropical trees, the lush setting distracted me from how steep the hike was getting.

When we stopped for a rest and my guide Alberto offered me a day-old piece of bread, I noted that we had gone from a warm and slightly windy temperature to what I would imagine it felt like to be in a cloud. I asked Alberto how much longer we had, as I was already quite tired from the steep incline of rubble, to which he responded, ‘dos e media, tres horas.’

At this point I realized I was in for way more than I had expected, and it was doubtful I’d get to catch up with my friends later on at the swimming hole for a coconut beverage as I had hoped.

As we climbed on, the terrain went from rubble to huge boulders, to slippery boulders, to slippery rocks, to pure mud and swamp that sucked at all edges of my once brightly colored pink Nikes. The air pressure became thinner and the temperature turned icy cold. The moisture on my body that before was perspiration was now rainwater from the heavy vapor that was coming from the, yes, cloud we were climbing through.

I began to understand that this was not a casual hike, and that maybe I should have paid attention when people told me that many hikers had fallen to their deaths on that very same volcano.

The moment this fact passed through my head, I began to panic. I wanted my parents. I wanted to turn around. Tears welled up in my eyes. The pain in my legs was becoming unbearable, and as Alberto hiked ahead and disappeared into the cloud, my resolve began to weaken. The eighty-five degree staircase of rocks and bushes went on for hours with no reprieve. My vision blurred, my calves began to cramp, and I seriously started wondering why this death trap trail even existed.

I knew I couldn’t turn around, mostly because I didn’t know how to say it in Spanish, so I began repeating positive affirmations to myself. ‘You got this Liv,’ ‘If anyone can do this it’s you,’ ‘It’s an adventure!’ This helped a little, until I would glance up into the howling vortex and wonder if I could ever actually make it to the top.

Then, at a certain point, I swear to God, Whitney Houston popped into my head, and ‘Dance with somebody’ got me motivated for the last two hours up. It was a miracle.

We finally made it to the crater, and it was absolutely miserable.

The wind was roaring at this point. I was freezing and soaking wet. There was heat blasting through the rocks and I could feel the power of the volcano beneath my feet. Visibility was absolute shit and I was more than ready to start the descent.

Going down, at first, was an amazing relief. My legs relaxed, I could plod along without the use of my walking stick, my neck relaxed. It was luxurious.

But then the injuries started. I began slipping and sliding everywhere. Scraping my legs, banging my knees, catching my backpack on bushes. The journey down would prove to be longer and more fearful than the climb.

After three hours, the wind quieted and I was able to see more than five feet ahead of me. My nerves slowly began to settle, and I came to believe that I probably was going to live. When I finally got to the bottom, flat ground had never felt so good.

All in all, it was the most painful and terrifying experience of my life. Would I do it again? Fuck no. Do I wish I hadn’t done it that day? Maybe. But where did staying in my comfort zone ever get me? I just hope that taking on challenges like that will help create the framework for future challenges of life; that I can learn to be calm, to persevere, and if all else fails, to put on an 80s song and dance through the pain.