The Power of Positive Hiking: Tales of The Smug, Phony, Bullshitters

I used to hate positive minded people. You know, the smug “power of positive thinking” types who would smile, pat you on the back and ask how you’re doing all the while acting like they really cared.

So full of shit. So phony. So unrealistic. Vomit.

I never considered myself a pessimist or a cynic; in my own self-estimation, I was a “realist”—as everyone can clearly see that life ends up in death and there is ample suffering and misery in the world. Hell, even my religion told me I was a sinner deserving of hell and there was nothing good about me while most of those on the planet were going to burn in an everlasting fiery pit.

And that message was entitled, “The Good News.” Huh? What was there to be positive about if THIS was the good news? And what is the bad news again?

Then life did what it always tends to do when lived properly and we give in to the power of the universe: It slowly changes and evolves you in the same slow and tedious manner the Colorado River carved and created the Grand Canyon. I tell people all the time never to mock anyone’s beliefs as one day you might just be believing the same thing. Life has a way of slapping us in the face in the most ironic ways, and, like the Grand Canyon, this change is never overnight.

It was Saturday, February 8, 2014 on a hike for “positive minded people” when it struck me that I was no longer the “realist” pessimist, cynic…I realized that I have evolved into a genuinely positive person. I guess you could say it was a type of coming out party for my life as a closeted positive optimist.

And how did I end up on such a hike?

I teach a course entitled “Communication in a Diverse World.”  This class travels to local Southern California locations to experience diversity and make us a bit uncomfortable as we explore new and strange digs.  As a person who loves novelty, I seek new and culturally “weird” events that myself, and my classes, had not done before.

After a furious google search, I found a Los Angeles “Meet Up” group, aptly named “Positive Minded People” that caught my attention. It seemed very different, very strange, and would likely be a totally trippy experience for “normal” people like me. I mean, hiking up to Mt. Hollywood with a bunch of people absolutely committed to positive energy, thoughts and behavior? How weird is that?

Apparently, not that weird.

I found my people.


How do I know I found my people? I knew the experience would be different from anything I had ever done, yet, something deep inside me suspected I might meet up with the aforementioned smug, phony, bullshitters. As I hiked up the canyons, stopping only to wait for others and dance the wobble (not to worry, it was videotaped and I am sure it will social media surface somewhere soon), I felt completely comfortable and resonated with these people without a hint of awkwardness.  We laughed, danced, encouraged and assisted each other… it was beautiful. I did find the vat of Kool-Aid at the top of the hill a bit sour, though other than that….

Now I am faced with a couple of possibilities—either I have become a smug, phony, bullshitter and am with my smug, phony, bullshit tribe, or there are just some people who consciously commit to positivity in their lives. On this hike, I realized I have become one of those people who decide that we have a choice of attitude in life and positivity is a great way to go.

For those of us who choose to see the glass half full, we still remain fully aware the other half is quite empty. Yet embracing empty is equally important as embracing full. After all, the true beauty of the Grand Canyon is not found in what is full, it is found in the empty space.

As I smiled, patted people on the back and asked how they were doing, there was not a disingenuous bone in my body. I cared.  These people were very genuine, normal people just trying to get through life in the most optimistic way possible—to live a rich and satisfying life through whatever means necessary.  Isn’t that what we are all trying to do anyway?

In the meantime, keep allowing that mighty Colorado current to continue shaping your attitudes, thoughts, perceptions…your very essence -and what is the unthinkable today may become your reality tomorrow.