When I was a kid, I dreamed of big things for my adult self.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but my dreams included driving a nice car, going out to restaurants, and generally living a life of ease and luxury.
Now that I’m older, I have some of those things. I can’t deny the convenience of being able to drive my own car from place to place. And for many years, it felt like a real indulgence to go out for a lavish Israeli breakfast on Friday mornings.
But the strange thing is, material rewards aren’t as fun as I thought they would be.
Yes, we appreciate a new car – for the first time we drive it or even for the hundredth time. But eventually, that newness wears out. We become accustomed to our material comforts. And they really don’t seem all that exciting anymore.
My adult self has learned a lesson that I couldn’t really grasp as a kid: the things that make us truly happy are more about our inner selves. The ability to love. To constantly appreciate the beauty of life. To feel gratitude. These are among the qualities that give us long term happiness.
But how do we push ourselves to access those feelings on a regular basis? How do we engage in pastimes (or even family activities) that leave us feeling uplifted rather than bored?
In the course of our everyday, mundane, physical lives is there a pursuit that will help us access something deeper?
For me, there is one type of physicality that never seems to lose its appeal: the natural beauty of the great outdoors. Perhaps this is because no matter how many times I immerse myself in nature, I always feel a sense of peace and slowness when appreciating the beauty of the world we were given.
Seasons change, flowers bloom, springs dry and then fill up again: nature is constantly self-renewing. There is always another hill to climb or another path to follow. The outdoors is the physical resource that keeps on giving.
For the price of your time and your footsteps, you can gain access to a world that never leaves you feeling empty. Hiking can take you on a journey away from materialism and towards a more lasting type of happiness.