6 Lessons I Learned On My Way To The Everest Base Camp

It was March 2012.

I saw a Groupon deal with beautiful copywriting. It said “Relaxing scenic trek in Annapurna with yoga. Relaxes your mind and stuffs like that”. OK, relax and yoga sounded like the right keywords for a getaway. How tough could it be when it involved morning yoga and yogurt?

So I signed up with two buddies, William and Saha. They were marathon runners and I was a walking potato.

2 weeks into booking the trip, an after-thought kicked in.

“I would probably not go back to Nepal anytime soon anyway, so might as well do Everest instead”. So William proposed a “trade up” plan – Let’s go to Everest! Saha said “Sounds like a good idea!” and I screamed “Guys, we agreed on Yoga and Yogurt! Everest doesn’t sound relaxing weii!”

The truth was: the idea was exciting. But, I was never a trekker. In fact, I couldn’t even stay on the treadmill for 20 minutes without getting a heart attack from panting too hard. So, as exciting as it was, the thought was equally daunting. I was scared.

Eventually, I decided to #YOLO it.

I went to Everest Base Camp. I made it.

Here are 6 lessons I learned.

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1) If you are doing it for the first time, you will never be ready anyway.
Same goes for every other “first” attempt in life.

Remember when you first learn how to swim? As much as you can memorize the techniques – you would feel insecure until you got into the pool for the first time. Remember your first stage performance? After 200 hours of grilling practices – you would still feel a tornado of butterflies in your tummy. Same goes to heading off to Everest Base Camp for the first time. We trained, over-stocked our medicines, bought expensive waterproof socks, and a pocket knife in case we walked into a bear – we weren’t certain until we did it.

A comfort zone is a place where you’re in control because you know what to do. A comfort zone is a nice cozy place but eventually, you will get bored. Remember, progress is living.

Stop progressing, stop living.

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5 lessons I learned in 2014

Hello 2015.
Here are a 5 lessons I learned (and relearned) in 2014.

1) Find a Purpose bigger than planet Mars
I witnessed the Thailand 2014 political crisis protest.

Tell me, what comes to your mind when I say the protest? Most probably “blood sheds, conflict, death, and unrest”? True, but there was more to it.

I saw the other side of the #bangkokshutdown. The humane side of it. I joined the protests – perhaps I was lucky, the ones that I went to were so carnival-like that it felt like a street concert. Yes, there were concerts, happy gatherings, and some took their costumes very passionately. Most of these people have their day jobs, they were likely just making ends meet too. They gathered – invested their time, money, and energy without asking anything in return.

My friend’s mum opened up her kitchen and cooked for the protesters. Everyday, she prepared food for more than 100 people. I have colleagues who rather use up their annual leaves for the protest. Whenever I spoke to them about the protest, you can see sparkles in theirs eyes. Their faces glowed up. They were proud. They were happy. They were fulfilled. Those emotions and energy were contagious.

Why? They were serving a purpose bigger than self. Now imagine that the protest is your life, what would you do? When you find that purpose for yourself, the fire in the belly will never go off.

2) Happiness is a butterfly
I experimented with project 100happydays.

I had fun. Life was a little more excited when I was out looking for “moments and stuffs” to be happy about – like when someone asked me for coaching, when I dived with manta ray for the first time, and when I made myself a very nice breakfast; and of course, read a good book. I paid more attention.

Having that said, could I be genuinely happy the whole 100 days? No, fortunately and realistically.

I remember feeling reluctant with some of the posts and when I got to the last one, I ironically breathed a sigh of relief – “over n done n still happy”. Some friends who started the experiment with me dropped off by day 30; while some resorted to posting largely pictures of coffee and latte art only. I guess, they felt the same friction. The friction of chasing happiness.

Happiness is a butterfly. The more you chase after it, the more it flies away.  Perhaps, the trick is not to look and log happiness. Instead, we should learn to attract happiness. No butterfly wants to stop on a rotted flower. No happiness wants to enter a sour soul either.

Do you know what makes your soul rich and sweet? Do you know how to attract happiness? Or before that, What is happiness to you?

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