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June 20, 2019

How the Outdoors Can Make You Happier

As you might expect, the author of a book that purports to contain tips for living a happy life comes across as a pretty idealistic guy. The idealism that author and mountain-culture devotee Matt Mosteller (or “Powder Matt,” as he’s known throughout the ski world) so naturally exudes is that…

As you might expect, the author of a book that purports to contain tips for living a happy life comes across as a pretty idealistic guy.

The idealism that author and mountain-culture devotee Matt Mosteller (or “Powder Matt,” as he’s known throughout the ski world) so naturally exudes is that of someone who discovered his life’s calling at a young age and pursued it at the expense of a more conventional lifestyle.

Though he now calls Fernie, B.C., home, Mosteller was raised in urban Seattle. Throughout childhood, he was entranced by the surrounding Cascade Mountains and resolved to explore them, even though his family did not engage in outdoor-adventure pursuits. Undeterred, young Mosteller took to “pestering” friends and neighbours for rides to the mountains and was in this way introduced to skiing, climbing, mountaineering, backpacking and wilderness camping.

The experiences only stoked the fire in his soul, and, at the tender age of 16, Mosteller set out for the outdoor-adventure mecca of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“I took the mountain exit, and I left at a very young age,” he says. “My family didn’t understand that, but they were very supportive. They knew something was growing inside of me.”

That winter, Mosteller lived in his car. He soon figured out the basic survival tips of the ultimate ski-bum lifestyle, like where to go for free food at happy hour. However, the reality of spending cold nights in an old car with a bad heater was much less romantic. “When it gets down to 40 below Fahrenheit, sleeping in a car is not exactly the most comfortable experience in the world,” he says. “You have a lot of time that you’re not sleeping. You’re thinking about things because you’re awake – because you’re freezing your ass off.”

To pass the time, Mosteller started keeping a journal, which would become the seed for his “Adventurer’s Guide to Living a Happy Life,” a tract of 63 life lessons accumulated from more than 40 years of exploring the great outdoors, one for each of the 63 winter nights he spent in that car as a 16-year-old ski bum.

Now based in Fernie, where he holds the position of vice-president of marketing for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Mosteller hasn’t lost sight of the mountains and is an outspoken proponent for the importance of outdoor adventure, particularly for kids.

“I want to see people put the play back in their lives,” he says. “It’s really important for kids to do that. Nature can do so much good for people of all ages. We’ve got a real epidemic on hand right now, where people don’t go outside anymore and don’t get any of that goodness. “You don’t have to go climb Mt. Everest. The outdoors for some might be a walk in Fish Creek Park … There is a powerful change that happens if you spend time outside.”

Mosteller’s Tip No. 43: Aim for the Exceptional

When I participate in wilderness adventure trips, I am not the best at being creative in the camp kitchen, nor am I the fastest hiker, paddler or biker. It’s not that I don’t like eating good food – I do! But I know that cooking isn’t my best talent, so I often refer to guidebooks or other members of the team to select food for our trips. Similarly, I am not always first into the camp. I’m not always the fastest or the one in the best shape. But I can navigate, I have a strong intuition in nature, am determined and I have a positive attitude. These are the traits that I focus on being exceptional at. All of us have talents. Identify and focus on your talents and become exceptional at them.

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