Having the Right Attitude
It’s been said that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% is how you react to it. Having the right mental attitude is the biggest determinant in your level of satisfaction with your life. As Hellen Keller is famous for saying, “Keep the sun in your face so you don’t see the shadows behind you.” A powerful statement about keeping a perspective in life, and how our attitude should be in our daily lives.
When it comes to hunting, my attitude is what sets the tone for everything about my hunt, and it starts with my thought that the hunt is far more important than the kill, no matter what I am hunting. To me it’s about being outdoors, enjoying myself, pitting myself against mother nature and the wilderness, testing myself, and building my strength both physically and mentally. To do that, I have to set realistic expectations and have the right attitude. If I go on an elk hunt with the expectation of harvesting a monster bull, the chances are I am going to be disappointed. Sure I think about that big bull, but that isn’t what drives me.
People who judge their hunting success simply by the size of a rack are not doing anyone justice. I knew a guy I hunted with a long time ago, and he didn’t care whether he ever got an elk or not, he was happy just to be there in the wilderness. He worked hard at it, but maybe didn’t have the deep desire to kill something, and that was OK. He was a very pleasant guy to be around, and he was never disappointed in his hunts. In the off season he would talk about every trip as if they were the most adventurous and exciting times of his life, and they probably were.
I carry that same attitude with everything in my life, or at least I try to. I am not saying I am never disappointed, but I can say with confidence that I am never beaten, ever. Am I disappointed that I have a canoe instead of a big sailboat? Of course not, I love going out on my canoe. Am I disappointed that my son isn’t going to play lacrosse for Duke University? Of course not, I am very proud that he is going to play for Metro State University in Denver, just the fact that he is playing at a collegiate level is a huge accomplishment in life. Am I disappointed that a project may take two months longer than I thought? No, not if it means that it will be done right, especially if I have already been working on it for 18 months.
Some people might say that I set lower standards in life for thinking that way, but people who know me well will tell you that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I set high goals for myself and those around me, and we achieve those goals. They would also tell you that I am generally a happy person with so much to be thankful for in life. If I were Bill Gates or Donald Trump, then yes, I might not be happy with my life. But I am not one of those people, and if all I ever did was wish that I was, then I would be constantly disappointed. That is why envy is one of the seven deadly sins; while it seems harmless, it is actually quite destructive and can ruin your life. I worked very hard to get to where I am today, and while there may be a few things I would have done differently in the past, I can’t change that, and I wouldn’t trade the life I have right now for anything.
It’s really all about your attitude in everything you do. You can choose to be successful, and it should only matter to you what the criteria for being successful really is. If you go through life always comparing your achievements to those of others, then you are not living your life for yourself. Only you can decide whether you are successful or not, and as for me, I am.