25 Habits of a Successful and Happy Camino de Santiago

This post was create by our forum user RobertS26 and as he says below, he was struck by how these habits also relates to a successful and happy Camino de Santiago. You can read the post and then all the responses he got from this here on the Camino forum: 25 Habits of a Successful and Happy Camino de Santiago

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The Washington Post summarized a paper on the habits of successful and happy people that was recently published in Psychology magazine. I was struck by how many of these habits directly applied or related to a successful and happy Camino.

1. Savor the moment. Literally stop and smell the roses. When walking the Camino, stop and turn around to see the beautiful sunrise behind you or take off your boots and dip your feet into a cool stream.

2. Meditate daily. Is there anything more hypnotic than the rhythmic sound of gravel crunching beneath your boots on the Meseta?

3. Don’t hold grudges. Is there anything more liberating than leaving a small stone at the Cruz de Ferro to symbolize letting go of mistakes and regrets?

4. Spend money on others. One of my best memories on the Camino was walking into a bar filled with pilgrims just before Pedrouzo and telling the owner that everyone drank for free on me for the rest of the afternoon. Soon a guitar appeared and songs were being sang. And then a conga line formed. I don’t remember much else after that . . . until my credit card bill arrived. Ouch. But it was worth it.

5. Be busy, but not rushed. Keep making progress during the day, but take time to take pictures or lay on the grass and watch the fluffy clouds slowly moving overhead.

6. Surround yourself with the right people. When choosing a Camino family, find people who like to wake up at the same time, walk the same distances, walk at the same pace, and take the same number of breaks.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff. For me, pilgrims who constantly worried about every little detail and fretted over the possibly of something going wrong were the ones I least wanted to be around.

8. Celebrate other people’s success. On my second Camino there was a school teacher from Australia that walked slower than everyone. She usually didn’t arrive at our destination until after 6 pm. The best part of the day was loudly celebrating her arrival.

9. Treat everyone with respect and kindness. In other words, do not flip on lights at 5 am and then rustle plastic bags.

10. Be optimistic. Just the thought that there might be a random bar around the next corner makes the next five minutes interesting.

11. Be proactive about relationships. In other words, invest in getting to know others. Be a constructive listener and not a conversation narcissist.

12. Get enough sleep. This of course assumes the bag rustlers and light flippers are proactive about relationships.

13. Spend time in nature. Rather than just walk, actually take in the nature around you. Look at the desert flowers blooming on the Meseta. Smell the corn growing in the fields. Smile at the dairy cattle in Galicia. Absorb your environment.

14. View problems as challenges. The only albergue in town is full? Cool! Check with the bartender down the street to see if there are any rooms to rent in town. Or stop in the church and ask the priest if a pew is available for the evening.

15. Reward yourself. Go ahead, have another dessert.

16. Express gratitude. Let the people of Spain know that you appreciate their hospitality with a gracias to anyone who even smiles in your direction.

17. Dream big. Is there any better way to fall asleep each night than dreaming about that moment of finally standing in front of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela?

18. Spend time alone. Sure, join a Camino family, but make sure there is an hour or two every day when you walk alone, to meditate, to think, to dream big . . .

19. Don’t make excuses. If you are a 5 am plastic bag rustler, please don’t say, “I didn’t realize that it was thatloud,” when you get those well deserved dirty looks.

20. Have a growth mindset. Don’t let arriving in Santiago de Compostela be the end of your Camino. Make it the beginning of your Camino through life.

21. Spend money on experiences, not material things. You’ve invested a lot of your time and money into walking the Camino. Don’t waste it by spending time shopping or watching videos on your iPhone. Put your phone in your pack and invest time getting to know other pilgrims.

22. Have a morning ritual. Ah, yes . . . tortilla and a Pepsi every morning before hitting the road.

23. Take care of yourself. Routinely check those feet for hotspots before they become blisters.

24. Make use of your character strengths. I’m a criminal defense lawyer, so my character strength of being able to cross examine a witness until they yell, “Okay, I’m making the whole story up!” was not useful on the Camino.

25. Engage in deep, meaningful conversations. My best memories of the Camino are the conversations. I have walked with a record executive that had Bono’s cell phone number, a man diagnosed with MS who wanted to take on one last physical challenge before his health began to deteriorate any further, a woman who walked with a pronounced limp to celebrate beating cancer and a stroke at the same time, a woman who walked because she wanted to regain her feeling of security after being assaulted by a stranger six months earlier, and a man who wanted to be a better husband so he walked from SJPP to Santiago to inventory his life. I could go on and on, but you get the point. It’s the conversations that last with you.

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