loader image

Louise Koeckhoven

How nature taught me 10 valuable life lessons

Climbing up a mountain in Davos, Switzerland, my friend and I came to the conclusion that mountain hikes teach us some valuable life lessons. Comparing life with hiking seemed to become more and more logic, educational and eye-opening. Weeks after that hike, this analogy still occasionally pops up in my head.

The lessons I’ve learned? Here are the 10 main ones…

1. Baby steps can bring you anywhere
Every time I am standing at the base of a mountain or if we start a 4-hour hike I feel nervous. Thinking I won’t make it, I’ll start making up excuses (sore knees, weird stomach) and feel anxious all the time. However, once we start, it always turns out to be fine. Yes, most of the time I’ll reach the top sweaty, panting, and red and yes, the next day I’ll feel my legs, but I’ve NOT made it. By just starting and going step by step, you can reach so much more than expected!

2. Everyone finds their own path
Every time we go out in nature, everyone finds their own path up or down. I’m way better in walking up then going down, while my friend almost runs down and has to pause more often when we are going towards to the top. We both take different steps, we both breathe (aka panting as loud as a smoking rhino) in a different rhythm and we both need to pause at different moments.

Both will reach the top, both will come back down. It’s not a race, it’s not a contest.. it’s about enjoying the experience and coming back safely. Help others where they need it and ask for a hand if you know they are stronger. Nothing to say sorry for, just go your own way!

3. Stop, turn around and look at how far you’ve come
To realize that you can reach more than you know, it’s important to look back every once in a while. While hiking, or in normal life, we tend to always look forwards. This is normal because we want to reach a goal that lies in front of us. However, standing still, turning around, and just realizing what you’ve done, learned, and achieved can give a super boost to ignore those hurting legs and keep ongoing. Do you ever reflect on all the things you did achieve this year?

4. Every corner provides a new surprise
Sometimes you reach a point in which you cannot see what’s coming next. Is it a lake or a valley or will it just be dull? Always when hiking and I see a top or ridge, I want to reach it to see what is on the other side. Sometimes you just see another ridge and you won’t find a clear view but at other times, it’s the most beautiful and surprising sight! Keep on searching for those moments, be curious and push yourself to run up that ridge and see what else it out there.

5. Gather the right tools, knowledge, and people
Somebody I met while traveling once said: “There is no bad weather, there is only bad gear”. Once you are prepared, it’s so much harder to hold you back. Of course, resilience is needed, because hiking, just as everything in life, can surprise you at any moment. It’s hotter or colder than expected, you get hurt, roads have changed, you see a new opportunity or you meet a strange creature.. all possible (on a hike or just on a normal day in the city). But being prepared, having the right tools in terms of (self)knowledge, gear and common sense can bring you very far! Also, don’t forget to have the right people around you.. some will motivate you, others will make you laugh or pull you up when you fell down. Make sure to gather the things and people YOU need to reach your goal.

6. Know when to nurture yourself
Big mistake number 1 (and yes, this was learning by failing for yours truly!) is thinking that you just want to climb to one more peak before taking a rest. Hmm.. are we talking about burn-outs now or just sore muscles? To achieve something in the long run, it’s important to nurture our bodies in time. So, listen to your body and mind and give it time to rest, stretch, breathe, eat, drink or just put on those anti-blister plasters (believe me, you want to be in time there)!

7. Never lose sight of your directions
Yes, feel free to go off the beaten tracks. Go and have a cheeky look around the corner, open a door to see what’s behind, dare and climb up on a rock or put your feet in that cute little creek, but always remember to keep the end goal in mind. It’s fine to divert from the goal for a bit. Yes, it’s very healthy to search, experiment and rebel, but check in with yourself every now and then to see if you really want to change the end goal (if so, go for it!), or if you want to go back to your original track.

8. Perseverance is key
I’ve seen trees growing in the least nourished places, I’ve seen birds build nests on slippery slopes and I’ve seen the most beautiful flowers grow in the strangest moon landscapes. Wherever you are, nature surprises you with the incredible perseverance it has, there is an amazing desire to live and grow into something beautiful. Even if you think everything around it is holding it back, nature still goes for it. Take that lesson and see where you can withstand the grey surroundings and still bloom and show your colors!

9. It’s not always about peaks
Have you ever done a hike in which the top was the final destination? Have you ever done anything in life where, once you’ve reached the top, you’ll immediately stop? Often we reach peaks, but before and after those there will be declines or, if seen more positively and we look at it the other way around, every valley is surrounded by two peaks. Life is organic, life goes in circles and we need to live through lows to feel our peaks more explosively. However, if after a top you see a valley coming, don’t be scared! Just know that there will be a top afterward.

Another thing I’ve learned is that hikes in which we just wander around on one specific level, so no peaks and no valleys are sometimes just as beautiful as others. We don’t always need to push ourselves up on that hill, just look around at where you are now, maybe that’s also good enough for a bit!

10. Take time to enjoy the view
But maybe even most importantly, once you are on that ridge or you’ve reached the top, please do one thing for me… don’t forget to enjoy the view! You’ve just done something extraordinary, you’ve pushed yourself, you’ve achieved something and reached a new high in your life. So, please do me a favor and enjoy it! Often we are already looking forward; where should we go now? We are stressed about going for the next thing, the next challenge, and we forget to acknowledge what we’ve just done.

So stop, take a breath, celebrate what you’ve just accomplished, and don’t forget to smile!

More to explorer

Values – the roots that ground us

Name the 3 most important values that guide you, the 3 values that guide your choices, the roots of every step you take in life, and that make you walk away from things that don’t serve you anymore.

The power of happiness

Imagine, you are feeling amazing. The world smiles at you and you smile right back at it. You feel good, things play

Contact Me &
Start Your Journey



EST. Please allow up to 24 hours for a response to your inquiry. Emails sent during non- office hours will be responded to on the next business day.