Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU
(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)
The Purcell Mountains are a rugged mountain range in southeastern British Columbia and a subrange of the Columbia Mountains. Full of old-growth forest, incredible scenery and a spectacular alpine basin surrounded by soaring rock peaks.
In pioneer days, in the late 1880’s, Tom 'Blanket' Jones was one of the earliest prospectors in the Purcell Mountains. He and other prospectors came seeking their fortune to that which is now home to the remains of a former gold and silver mine named 'Paradise Mine.'
In a recent solo-trip to western Canada, I decided that I would go on an ATV (all terrain vehicle) tour up this mountain to Paradise Mine, to the elevation of 4,000 feet.
Toby Creek Adventures claimed I would “embrace high glaciated mountains, resplendent alpine lakes, verdant wetlands, magnificent old growth forests and rushing rivers.” They provided all the gear, equipment and instruction needed and assured me that my 'ZERO-ATV-experience' would not be a problem. I opted for the voluntary collision insurance, just the same.
There was a group of eight ATVs including our leader, Matt. There was one other woman, but she was riding shot gun as her older son held the ATV reins. I questioned whether I was strong enough to operate this four-wheeled beast. After a safety demo and test run on a practice track, we headed up the mountain. There were no guard rails on the thin paths as we ascended upward. Fears started to race in my mind 'What if I fall off the mountain? What if I flip? What if I get jumped by a freaking bear?”
Trying new things can be uncomfortable and even downright scary. Heck, sometimes when I go to the Mango Salad Restaurant in Ingersoll, I have a hard time not ordering my favorite dish every single time. Why? Because what if I don’t like it? What if I have regrets?
After some deep breathes and the reality that people do this all the time, I put my fears to bed. I embraced the power of being out of my comfort zone and riding this new adventure. I kept up to the teen boys in front of me, I maintained a good speed, I took corners like a pro, and I plowed through the small creeks like it was my job. (Well at least in my mind, this is how it all went down).
When I got to the top, I was invigorated, empowered and inspired.
We might not want to take up something new because it scares us. What if we are not good at it, what if we fail? But how will we know? There are huge benefits to trying new things, taking up new hobbies and stepping out of your comfort zones.
When I first started yoga, about 15 years ago, I was scared, nervous and uncomfortable. A decade and half later I can say it single handily was the most healing and beneficial practice for my life.
My husband has a friend that was feeling stuck in life, in a rut. He took up mountain biking, the internal spark turned on, and a zest for life renewed.
Time magazine states, “If you often do one thing that makes you happy, then try another. Psychologist Rich Walker of Winston-Salem State University looked at 30,000 event memories and over 500 diaries, ranging from durations of three months to four years, and says that people who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones than people who have fewer experiences.”
Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, studies her broaden-and-build hypothesis of positive emotion. Her research suggests that the optimal ratio of positive to negative emotion in humans is above three to one and below 11 to one. Walker has observed that once the ratio of positive to negative events hit one to one, it opens the door to potential disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
There are many benefits of starting new adventures. Here is the short list to inspire you to do that thing, you know... that thing you have always wanted to do, but were afraid to.
1. Reality Check. What is the worse that could happen if you take up a new hobby or order a new dish and you don’t like it? In reality, you just go back to what works or try another new thing.
2. Overcoming fears. Life is constantly changing and evolving. When we get stuck in fears and 'what ifs' we lose the present moment. Being stuck or immobilized by fear isn’t living. Don't let 'no' and 'I can't' define your existence. Courage is doing something despite the fears.
3. Spice of life. No one has met someone that does the same thing every day, eats the same food every meal and is fearful of change and said “wow, what a well-rounded, interested person. I want that spice!” The more we try, the more we expand. Get spicy!
4. Accomplishment. There is an incredible pride about learning and accomplishing something new. Remember back to when you were a kid and the first time you rode your bike without the training wheels? Find this feeling again and regularly.
5. Personal Growth. In the fitness world, they say to not to work out the same routine because the muscles become used to it, and they stop growing, or simply face diminished growth. Imagine this for your body but also your mind and spirit. If you are stuck with the same old routine, and the same things that you’ve been doing since you cannot remember when, then your personal growth will diminish. Find variety.
Stop putting off seeing the Rocky Mountains, the northern lights of Iceland, trying that new class, or learning to play the flute. Just go for it.
By the way, I saw a bear of my tour and it didn’t attack me as feared. It was stunningly beautiful.
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