Happiness is…

You can fill in the blank for yourself, but I learned one answer for me last weekend.

To me, happiness is falling and still having fun.

I’ve been reflecting lately on a quote from author Paulo Coelho in his book, Aleph:

“Traveling is never a matter of money, but of courage.”

The “traveling” Coelho mentions could mean getting on an airplane and exploring new places, but I’d rather think of traveling as the way in which one approaches every day life.  We can think of each day as an adventure, throwing our hands up in the air with nervous glee at unexpected twists and turns, or we can try to force structure and safety and expected outcomes, rigid and afraid.  Either way, there are going to be times when we fall.

I’d like to think that if I approach every day as a new adventure, the experience of falling might actually be the opposite of devastating.  Regardless of whether I fall, I’ll probably have more fun.

Last weekend, I experienced the surprising joy of falling.  On two occasions on the slopes, I flew out of my skis, and laughed hysterically the whole way.  I don’t think I had ever been so happy to “fail”.

I learned downhill skiing as an adult, of course not a prerequisite for winter fun by any means (as my eight year-old likes to remind me there are countless ways to have fun in winter outside; sledding, building snow forts, or exploring just to name a few).

What I have noticed with skiing is that you need to be completely present at every twist and turn.  In my almost two decades of not being an expert skier, I’ve had plenty of days that I have been worried about falling.  However, I can count only on one hand the number of times that I have fallen.  Why have I been torturing myself with worry?

Last weekend, for some reason I wasn’t worried about falling - I didn’t care if I did.  I was smiling and humming, and listening to the “woo hoo”s and “oh yeah!”s of myself and other skiers.  We were present with the adventure.

When I flew out of my skis, I had been attempting something new:  entering knee-deep powder, once in a turn and a second time over a bump.  Both times, my shins hit the wall of snow and my skis stopped, but my body kept going with a face-plant in the cold snow.  Instead of being embarrassed, I was elated and alive and belly laughing.  Of course I was glad not to be hurt, but I’m sure the fact that I wasn’t afraid to fall had a lot to do with how I walked away from it and kept on going.

Later that afternoon, on our last run down the mountain, a line of a dozen five and six year old downhill racers zoomed past my husband and me, one by one leaning forward in race mode with knees bent and poles back.  Clearly, these children approach life as an adventure and haven’t learned to think otherwise.

Here’s to approaching our every day with a little more ‘traveling’ and adventure, so that when we do fall, we are laughing the whole way.

About Rebecca P. Cohen
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities any time of the year.  Rebecca is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Rebecca has been a proud ambassador of the Seeds of Change Sowing Millions Project and featured as a spokesmom for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement on PBS Wild Animal Baby.  She has inspired thousands with her public appearances and community and school events, and motivates still more to follow their dreams and passions as the host of Wish It, Dream It, Do It! radio. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.

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One Response to “Happiness is…”

  1. chase your dreams Says:

    Thanks for the marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it,
    you’re a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back in the future. I want to encourage you continue your great job, have a nice weekend!

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