Confidence is…….the ability to stay on your path even when it feels hard.

It’s true that we have to take the first step and even more true to say that all the other steps matter as well.  The trick is to have an inspiring and realistic expectation of how our journey will unfold. January’s slice was about choosing a determined, goal oriented, mindset and a key stone habit to support it.

February’s Gem is about staying positive en-route.  We will enjoy it more if realistically we accept that, when a goal is big and worth accomplishing, we will have successes in sections rather than all at once. Keep on climbing because the view from the top is spectacular!

Story of Inspiration
Just as the sun is starting to go down two rain soaked and weary Duke of Edinburgh students reach a large hill between them and shelter for the night. This is the last leg of their Silver award. Looking at the hill the first hiker says he is knackered and just can’t face it. He wants to phone for help which will mean surrendering the Silver award and going home empty handed and heavy hearted. The more he looks at the hill and imagines how steep it is the more exhausted his body becomes. His brain is telling him it’s impossible and he falls to the ground and searches for his phone.  

Luckily his fellow hiker knows a thing or two about positive psychology. So despite her fatigue and being drenched she looks at her ordinance survey map and works out that the ratio of the hill isn’t as steep as it looks.  She takes the arm of her friend and pulls him up the hill a few meters.  Then she spots a smooth path, free from mud that looks easier to walk on and this give her a boost.  She is now inspired and she starts to think that they can reach the top and get home before night fall.  This boost gives her the cognitive ability to work out the fastest route. 

Her acceptance of the circumstances helped her to hold onto the belief that if they keep making adjustments, one step at a time, success is possible.  This in turn releases more physical, mental and emotional energy and, as if by magic, pretty soon they are both at the top looking down at the foothills where base camp is in plain sight .  This boosts her friends moral and he too now finds extra reserves of energy and has a clearer thinking head to help work out the best way down.  With images of a warm fire and dry clothes firmly at the forefront of their thinking, they stride forward feeling happy and excited.  Still not home yet their enthusiasm has returned along with a belief that they will do it.  Fear has turned to excitement and their Silver medal has become all the more worth having.  

“Researchers at the University of Virginia led by Dennis Proffitt, who were looking at how our perception of physical space is constructed in the brain. What they found was that when we are in a negative or fatigued state of mind, our brains actually perceive hills as being significantly higher and backpacks as significantly heavier.  And this principle doesn’t apply just to hiking; further research hs revealed that when we’re in a negative mindset, all loads feel heavier, all obstacles loom bigger, all mountains seem less surmountable.”
Shawn Anchor: Before Happiness.