Akshay Nanavati is a mountaineer and what I would consider extreme sport enthusiast. He goes all over the world looking for challenges. The little mountains I climb are mole hills to him. Still, you don’t have to be a mountaineer to experience Fearvana. You can just go hiking.
Let me clarify that. It is especially true if you are in your seventies like me when getting in and out of the shower is a daily risk. So climbing even a small mountain with bad knees and other ailments is a real Fearvana experience.
Ice and Snow
It is a real Fearvana experience when you are hiring in snow and ice. There is plenty of danger and you need to focus. You get nervous and scared just before a steep section and then you make it – Fearvana!
Coming down is really much more difficult in the snow. Once I tried it without the proper Microspike traction and fell. It was a good lesson. I don’t forget my Microspikes any more and if I did I would not venture up the mountain, because as Akshay says, “the mountain is in charge.”
Ok, what is Fearvana? I explained it in my review of his book but this former Marine describes it as being scared and then performing anyway and succeeding. You embrace the fear! It is your friend. Struggle is your friend.
One of the things I do before I climb a mountain is focus on the difficulty of the trail. The struggle. Not the top. The summit will be there but you need to be attentive to every part of the trail. Akshay says a couple things about this. First he says, ‘The next time you face a challenge, smile and ask yourself, “What is fun about this? How can I make this enjoyable.”’ Second, he stresses the importance of visualization by saying, “Visualizing the process of struggle, as opposed to the outcome on the other side of it, better prepares you to overcome the struggle.”
Can you go hiking and experience flow? I say you can. Maybe you need to make it a little harder consistently, but maybe not. Akshay quotes Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who is the expert on flow. He called it “optimal experience.” He defines it as a state “in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Akshay takes it a bit further.He says, “…success demands a real struggle to the point of questioning the very endeavor to which we commit ourselves, even if only for a moment.” So can climbing a small mountain get you into flow? Well, every Saturday I question whether I want to climb a mountain the next day even though I am committed. So yes, I think so! Go Hiking!