What Surfing Can Teach All Of Us About Life

surfer-estero-bay_mg_1954The surfing community is pretty prominent in this neck of the woods. Heck, surfers are everywhere in San Diego. The culture almost blends in with the scenery sometimes, but here are some reasons that might have you paying a bit more attention to our neighbors who ride the waves. Elana Miller, a psychiatrist and a surfer herself, writes about some important life lessons that surfing has taught her; life lessons that we could all use:

  1. You can tell a professional not by his talent but by his attitude. The same is true of an amateur. In her article, Elana talks about one “amateur” in particular who, even though he may have had some skill on the surf board, lacked respect and was arrogant and rude to his fellow surfers.  He was constantly cutting in front of other surfers, stealing waves and yelling at surfers he thought were in his way. So regardless of his talent on the board, his attitude will always keep him at amateur level. The lesson here is, we must always remember that we’ve all been at the bottom of the totem pole at one time or another in life. When we begin to rise up, instead of stepping on the people below us, we should help them along. That’s what Elana says being a “pro” is all about, “Show up. Do your work. Help others who don’t know as much as you. Be helped by people know know more. If you find yourself getting arrogant, check it.”
  2. Most people are rooting for you, not trying to compete with you. When we feel like we’re struggling in a dog-eat-dog world, it’s helpful to realize that we’re all in this together. Elana recounts the many times she has been out in the ocean catching waves and how most of the time, the other surfers are cheering for each other and sharing the waves. It’s not a competition for the everyday surfer, it’s a shared love of the ocean and the sport. Surfers help each other and want each other to succeed. Life is much easier and more enjoyable when we work together and have each other’s back. Elana says, “Too many people operate under the delusion of competition, when the most helpful stance is collaboration.”
  3. There’s no point fighting forces of nature. Just like the ocean, life is hard, life isn’t fair and life won’t hesitate to toss you around a bit. We spend so much time trying to avoid the hard stuff, trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings, trying to numb our own wounds and ignore when our body is telling us to slow down. We think if we work hard enough, we can keep all the scary moments at bay and create only perfect, happy memories. But that’s no way to live. A full life is made up of all the moments, painful and uplifting. We appreciate the good because of the bad. The difficult times are the ones that make us stronger. We waste valuable time and energy trying to manipulate a perfect life. Elana has the perfect advice, “Don’t fight forces of nature. Ride them.”


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

Story Credit

Image Credit: surfer-estero-bay_mg_1954 by Mike Baird. Used under a creative commons license.

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