Tuesday, November 01, 2011

5% Heel, 95% Head

When we were thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, we used to say “Its 5% heel, 95% head.” We discovered after the first 6 weeks that we could hike all day if we figured out how to manage the terrain, our bodies, water and food. So why were some days so much harder than others? It was our heads, our attitude, our thoughts, our focus.

If I was chipper, the day was like a walk in the park. If I was glum or negative, it felt like wading through jell-o, uphill. I had rainy days that drove me into the nearest town for a hot shower and respite. I had sunny days that spurred me on to the next mountain top. But, I also had sunny days when it seemed impossible to go on and rainy days with hiker pals that I wished would never end. (you’re not imagining it; you’ve heard that in a song – just couldn’t resist).

I could get mad at the mountain, or the weather, and I did, but really? The clouds weren't acting maliciously. The rocks weren't trying to trip me up. That mountain didn't rise up just to intimidate me, and the lack of water wasn't intentional. All the emotions I experienced were about me. Just me. The terrain, the environment just was.

Life is like that. Its all in our heads, even when we think its what someone else is doing that’s driving us crazy. Just like the mountains and clouds, people simply are. Even if someone is intentionally trying to rile us, its never really about us. Remember, what we do is all about us? So, what options do we have left? Change our perception. Change our mind.

A very dear friend once told me about a candid camera episode where a sign was placed by a register at a convenience store that read “No Change Given”. Several people bought things and when the cashier didn’t give them any change, they got upset, yelling and carrying on. Then one guy didn’t. He paid for a newspaper and a drink with a twenty dollar bill and should have gotten most of it back in change. When the cashier slammed the drawer shut without counting out the change, the gentleman asked politely about it and the cashier pointed to the sign, “No Change Given.” After a pause, the guy smiled and said, “Have a nice day.”

Later on, the show’s host interviewed him outside the store, asking why he didn’t get upset about the event like all the others. His response?

“I don’t let anyone rent space in my brain.”

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