Grit and Post-ecstatic Growth on the Appalachian Trail

Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail has always been an adventure for me. Mountain top experiences, beautiful scenery, meeting interesting people, and spending time with friends.

However, there is a price to pay. Preparation involves days, at least for me, and the soreness from blisters, lost toenails, and aching muscles and knees makes this an adventure with possible fun components. Note this is NOT primarily fun, with a few challenging components, but possible fun.😄

Why, besides the occasional fun examples above would one put themselves through this? Rarely if ever are my weaknesses exposed unless their is some accompanying duress. A much used acrostic to describe bad times to discuss important issues with a spouse to bring out the worst in them is H-A-L-T: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. I encounter all of these on the trail and add a very relevant S to the group, soreness!

More is learned about myself on the trail in a few days than the entire remainder of the year. Whining, blaming, pouting, and pity partying are drawn out in abundance. The best that can be said, is that the frequency and duration of each of these respective weaknesses seems to be getting better as I mature in managing my emotions.

Life’s journey is all about choosing growth and living a life that matters. Backpacking at this intense level (~16-20 miles/day) is an environment for me very conducive to accomplishing that.

Is it all worth it? During this season of life, it is! Each year about half way through the trip, I’m vowing to not return. The short term perspective smooths out when looking at the overall experience for all of the good reasons mentioned above. The self-inflicted duress is labeled post-ecstatic growth ( closely related to grit or the perseverance necessary to complete what you started (Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance).

The costs:

  • Taking time off work – about a week
  • Trip preparation – days
  • Financial – Hundreds of dollars
  • Physical & mental duress – high

Spending time with friends, revealing your weaknesses and seeing how much grit you have to achieve a high level of post-ecstatic growth – PRICELESS!

What is your adventure that stretches you out of the comfort zone and into becoming the person you were destined to be?

For Dan’s weekly video blog on living a life that matters go to

Appalachian Trail and Grit

Appalachian trail and grit – Rte 17A Greenwood Lake to Pawling, NY

Posted by Dan J Mularski on Sunday, April 23, 2017

REV3 Half Triathlon – Building Character, Fulfilling Dreams, And Another Check Off The Bucket List


  1. Lake Erie doesn’t taste any better than Lake Michigan (at last year’s Chicago Triathlon)
  2. Tolstoy: Adversity builds character. John Wooden: Adversity reveals character. Mularski: Adversity builds and reveals character.
  3. Some participants’ bodies were not built to get through this race – determination and the willingness to endure of the human spirit once a worthy goal is set never ceases to amaze me.
  4. Gotta get some new gear if I want to take on the full triathlon – bike, monitors, wetsuit, etc. $$$!!!
  5. Why hundreds spent to push my body through its most difficult challenge ever? Building character, fulfilling dreams, and another check off the Bucket List – priceless!

091116rev3tricedarptfinishWhat is your “triathlon” to build your character? Don’t compare yourself with others as it usually results in one of two things:

  • When this person is so wonderful and/or accomplished, you could never do that leading to feeling inferior.
  • Looking at a person and saying to yourself, “At least I’m not that bad,” results in feeling superior but at the expense of not performing at a higher level.

Put forth your best effort at a challenge. Test all of your capabilities to the degree of not being sure it can be done, but knowing that it is possible. Making it too difficult is a setup for overwhelming failure to the point of playing it safe from this point on. Make it too easy and there is no sense of accomplishment.

“My triathlon” preparation tested the feasibility of completing each of the elements of a triathlon. At one point, an injury in regards to running caused a delay in training for a marathon that opened up a window to do some swimming, the least liked part of a triathlon for me. Upon realizing “this is not that bad,” the door opened to doing a triathlon.

Completing each element of the half triathlon individually gave me the confidence to think about doing them combined. Breaking down the seemingly huge challenge into smaller pieces was a key to go to the next level.

Likewise, for any challenge that would be a huge accomplishment, taking smaller steps positioning yourself to believe you can do it is critical. The actual task or challenge, big or small, is not the issue and is different for everyone.

091116rev3tricedarpt-2Whatever your “triathlon” is, go for it! You may even exceed your expectations! The sense of accomplishment and confidence generated in just the process of preparation for that big challenge is beneficial regardless of the outcome. I trained for four years before completing my first marathon and the virtue of perseverance was strengthened every failed attempt.

You can do this! What is “your triathlon” in whatever area of life you have been thinking about? I’d love to hear your story so leave a comment below.

If you think this was something others could be encouraged by, please share with a simple click below.  🙂

What’s The Next Check On Your Bucketlist?

Chicago Triathlon finish

Some things I learned participating in the Olympic distance Chicago Triathlon:

1. Lake Michigan does not taste good.

2. 61 degree water temp is as cold as it sounds

3. The plants growing in Lake Michigan don’t taste good either.

4. I don’t ever want to pay $73 to park again at the Chicago Hilton.

5. Checking another item off the Bucket List – priceless!!

What is your “Chicago Triathlon” that challenges, scares, and excites you? For some it’s a physical accomplishment, for others mental, or financial. Whatever is “out there” that you think you could and would like to do, but are unsure, give it a try!

Failure is possible, otherwise it wouldn’t be exciting, but you’ll never know until you try. Some of the biggest regrets on a survey of 90+ year olds is that they didn’t take more risks. Regardless of the outcome, you win by building character when you step up and take on personal challenges. Go for it, you can do this!

Share this post if it was encouraging and also share the personal challenges you rose up to, large or small. Remember to not despise small beginnings, big challenges are more than likely preceded by much smaller ones.

See photos and original post in Facebook.

Maximizing Meaning at the Matterhorn

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Happiness in life is all about getting another point of view. Finding a higher purpose is admittedly easier with good weather and a spectacular view of the Matterhorn, but you don’t have to go far. Where is your place to slow down and think to know where you are going in life? How are you becoming the person you were destined to be? Are you making a difference in the world? Watch to begin the adventure of maximizing meaning in your life.