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.








  1. Jimmy luckily your blog post interrupted this dedicated student from her Activities, Concepts & Questions homework with a ting from my cell indicating an email which of course I had to read….. I do have the video of the wobble although it is too large to email so I will have to ask my techie son to assist. I also have the video of the “sour” “Kool-Aid” which I will argue was just as well intentioned as your encouragement of your students participation in such an experience. Though I found some points misleading, the heart was in the right place and the intention was positive. I will agree that the delivery…. well I would like to stay positive and maybe not be too, let’s say “realistic” and accept the misguided delivery. The intention was clearly to inspire and be positive. Just as the experience you assigned the class was well intended though some may find you to be exactly that guy… “smug, phony, bullshitters” making his class participate in weird shit for an A. ( I think I have now argued with you;-) …2 points)

    I too am one of those positive people that consciously make a choice to focus on the good in this world. Though I agree the summit speech wasn’t exactly what I expected, I accepted the vibe and the overwhelming sense of communal support I felt throughout the hike as my true judgement of the overall experience. I have not been on a hike like that for too long and it was difficult with my injured foot to make it to the top having never told one person about the myriad of body issues that allow me the coveted Handi-cap parking. I made a decision before I arrived that this was good for me. I spent today convalescing with an iced foot and all I can say is, I would absolutely do it again, pain and all. As I mentioned in the DB, the trail was a metaphor for me. Life can be hard and the trail steep, but with my goal insight I will keep moving. I was touched by the kindness of not only my classmates but the strangers that bonded during such a short time. I heard “you can do it” and a stream and positivity from beginning to end. When I needed a break you stopped and took a moment with me and encouraged me as well as others. At that point I wasn’t sure if I could continue walking on my foot, but this hike represented something larger to me. I have a long way to reach my goals. I have a family and many distractions as well as a comfortable life that can afford complacency. So at times it takes shear devotion to the desire to manifest the reality I seek to get up at 5 am Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Friday to achieve that 4.0 to get into the next part of my education. I loved being around like minded people, at least in the sense that all involved wanted to seek a positive community. I have you to thank for it. I would have never gone to a meetup for a hike and now Brian and I are planning to go to the Glow night hike just for the experience.

    You said to me that you are so happy with your life. That little tidbit is inspiring and proof to me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. In the end you said it perfectly…. “We laughed, danced, encouraged and assisted each other… it was beautiful.”

  2. This is so inspiring and pleasing Shanagolden. I am so pleased you had a challenge before you and conquered it…very sweet. My Kool-Aid reference was not related to the speech at the summit, rather it was an implication that our activities resembled very cult-like behavior, hence the Jonestown Kool-Aid reference. It was supposed to be funny…Rene’ laughed her ass off. Though the reference may be somewhat obscure. I found the speech to be very poignant and I really thought quite a bit about it…being emotionally connected to our activities in life was very inspiring and insightful…I really appreciated it. The comments you continually make about your transformation are SOOOO inspiring Shanagolden, I am so glad you are part of this class! I am very happy with my life…sick happy. Last night Rene’ and I were laughing about the script of my life…unbelievable. Life is good, very good.

    See you soon!

    • Hahaha. That’s the kool-aid! Makes sense now. Yes I know about the kool-aid but didn’t hear any references to a cult. Very funny. We went to ride bikes along Santa Monica beach after the hike. It was a beautiful day. Thanks for being inspired.

  3. Amazing experience… I had a great time as well. It was a much-needed diversion from studies and the positive energy was a great shot in the arm (a positivity booster). I even liked the “Kool-Aid” at the top (of course I would). I am positive-minded for the most part; I would prefer to hear positive words of encouragement instead of negative discouraging words. Just like we left the negative stuff at the bottom of Mt. Hollywood, you can leave the “sermon on the mount” too. I enjoyed the experience from the bottom to the top and “the wobble” in the middle. STAY POSITIVE!!!

    • Laura…where did you come from? You are a complete positive bubble from top to bottom. I cannot begin to tell you happy I am you are in this class!

  4. Wow!! I am truly impressed with Shanagolden’s words, and I agree with Jimmy that they’re very inspiring. I love how you both express your self. I have so much to learn and I’m glad I have great “smug, phony, bullshitter” people like you to learn from. This hike was amazing! Although I came home to find negative news, after this hike I’m equipped to deal with it. I am full of positive feelings and ready to continue my journey. Thank you Jimmy (or Urbanovich) for inviting me to be part of this wonderful experience.

    • We are soulmates Celene’!! You and your story are the most inspirational thing to happen to me in a long time. I think another podcast (along with Anaiza) is in order. Thank you for the comment!

      • That would be great Jimmy 🙂 It’ll be fun to converse with Anaiza. And thank you for your kind words.

    • Ty Celene. I think it’s synchronicity how the hike put you in the right mind set to deal with the negative news. I agree with you about having our wonderful professor to learn from, which to me is yet another example of synchronicity……

      • I was also including you Shanagolden 🙂 I don’t know you, but you taught me something very true. Although the road is steep and difficult, we must always keep moving forward.

  5. Its all a plot to steal your soul….everyone’s against me!…I hate Everybody!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *