In November 2022, I was fortunate to do three passes and an Everest Base camp trek in Nepal. I feel I am still in shock at how beautiful the mountains are. The grand scale of it takes you to a new level of thinking.
For me, it was a very spiritual journey. And it wasn’t hard to accomplish - walking in the mountains for hours a day (sometimes up to 10 hours) naturally calls for self-reflection and a lot of thinking.
I’m not worried about sounding cliche, but it was a trip of a lifetime. And I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world on this trip. So here are nine life lessons I’ve learned in Nepal.
1. This, too, shall pass
Everything in life is temporary - the suffering and the enjoyment.
Trekking in Nepal is tough. Every day you face new challenges but also see the most magnificent view. Which doesn’t mean it makes walking easier, but it takes your mind off things a bit. Every challenging day will be over, and there is a warm meal waiting for you in the dining hall of the lodge.
If you have a mindset that no hard times last forever, it’s easier to overcome life challenges. But good times also don’t last forever, which brings me to my next point.
2. Don’t think of the past or future. Enjoy the present
This, perhaps, is one of the most important lessons - you can’t change the past, and you can’t predict the future. You can only be in the present, control your thoughts and enjoy the moment.
After I did the first pass, Kongma La (5,535m), I felt it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I still had two passes left in my trek, and for days, I was dreading it. I told my guide how much I was thinking about the upcoming days and mentally preparing myself for the next challenge. My guide, a very thoughtful Nepali guy, asked me why I was worrying about something that would be in the future. He said: “Maybe it won’t be as bad, but you are already overthinking it. Just enjoy today and this hike, and think about a second pass when you get to it”.
It was wise to say, especially since he knew that the second pass, Сhol la pass (5,387m), was much easier than the first one. So overthinking for days was not the best approach. I enjoyed the second pass and that day.
3. Gratitude is the key to life
Trekking in Nepal made me look at my problems. Differently, I realized I have luxury problems.
Knowing that life in a third-world country is tough is different from realizing how good life is in Connecticut, USA. It reminded me how good we have it at home.
What I missed the most in the Himalayas was a glass of warm water in the morning. Every night I put a glass of water on my nightstand, and it’s the first thing I drink when I wake up. In the mountains, that became a challenge - sleeping in cold lodges was already hard enough, but waking up to frozen water in the bottle was a complete disappointment. I’ve managed this problem by getting a small thermos and mixing barely warm water in the morning with the cold. The gratitude for the small thing we take for granted, like a warm bed, a shower, western warm toilet lol, is something that I’ve developed in Nepal.
4. The only way to go is forward
There were days when I was dreading my feet, looking forward to getting to the next village and finally taking off my hiking boots and resting. I’d look back on the trek where we came from and think there is no possible scenario where I could go back.
Same in life, if you want to archive anything, the only way to do it is by going forward. Even if it means at turtle speed and one step at a time.
5. Progress over perfection
“One step at a time” - was a mantra in my head during the trek. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go. As soon as you go toward something.
There were moments when I had difficulty moving my feet because of high altitudes, wind, and cold. I was moving so slowly, people on the trek were passing by me, but I was still moving and was one step closer to my destination.
Same in life, if you want to archive anything, the simple fact of doing it sometimes is enough. We all have bad days, and instead of beating yourself up over moving slowly, take a step back and appreciate the progress.
6. Comparison is a losing game
For the most part, I was a fast trekker, especially in “Nepali flat” areas. The passes, on the other hand, weren’t easy for me. I was slowly dragging my feet while watching other trekkers pass by me. It made me so anxious when I was comparing myself to them and their performance.
At some point, I realized that the only thing that matters is my progress. We all have different journeys and different lives. The only person one should compare is your past self, not that fast German lady that walks 2x your speed. That’s her journey, and your journey has nothing to do with it.
We tend to compare our success to others, but it’s a losing game.
The only progress you should worry about is your own.
7. Celebrate small moments
Trekking during the day was exciting; there was something new to see every day, and new challenges occurred. But looking back at the trip, you forget the struggles and vividly remember those small moments that made it so special.
In the mornings, even when we had acclimatization days and didn’t have to leave the lodge early, I made myself bundle up and go outside to see the sunrise. There, before everyone woke up and the village started buzzing with people, I watched the most spectacular sunrises. Finishing the trek brought me a feeling of accomplishment, but those small peaceful moments will always stay in my heart.
8. We can do hard things
“We can do hard things” is the quote to live by. Because we truly can. And the Himalayas reminded me of that.
Cold weather, excruciating wind, high altitudes, and your energy level sinking as you aim to keep moving - this trek was by no means easy. But pushing yourself to get through it would give you a sense of achievement. We can do harder things than we think. And Nepal proved it to me.
After I finished the trek, I had an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. It makes you believe that now you can do anything if you push yourself. It takes a lot of effort, but nothing meaningful in life is easy.
Keeping a positive attitude will carry you.
Positivity is a key to archive anything. So many times, especially after the passes, I was beaten up and didn’t want to keep moving. Going to bed in the cold and waking up in freezing temperatures… the only way to get through it was to keep a positive attitude.
It’s easier to find the negative in anything, but being positive is more fulfilling and will carry you through hard times.
It was an epic journey. A few weeks later, I forgot the tough parts and only remember the good ones. I guess that’s how life goes, but it’s important to remember the difficulties. I will never forget the breathtaking views but also how hard it was, although in the high sight, was, is that hard?
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Have you ever been to Nepal? What’s the most challenging journey you’ve been on?