“Eight years ago, I left my dysfunctional relationship and hit rock bottom. Here’s how I built myself back up.”

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I hit ‘rock bottom’ eight years ago, after I realised I had to leave a dysfunctional relationship and survive as a single mum.

Life had never been tougher, lonelier or more challenging. Supporting three children working long hours on a subsistence wage in my new hobby-turned-business was not what I had envisaged as I approached my fiftieth birthday.

But I was driven to push on because I had discovered my life’s purpose and felt compelled to follow it. I had discovered that shared adventures in nature create not just happiness but Natural Exhilaration. And I was determined to help other women experience this joy.

Listen to Di Westaway talk more about this moment in her life, which took her to the depths of her pain. (Post continues after audio.)

Today, life couldn’t be more different. The year began with a six-week ski adventure with my tall teen, working remotely between the ski slopes and Netflix in bed. And I’ve got a string of adventures to look forward to, including a charity challenge with my adult son, a rock climbing adventure with friends, a trekking adventure with clients, a wild weekend with my daughter and the ongoing adventure of running a social enterprise in a fast-changing world.

In moments of doubt, I pinch myself and wonder how it all happened. But it’s not a miracle that has created this thrilling lifestyle. It’s an adventurous spirit.

Millions of adventure seekers around the world use this spirit to lead lives they love, collecting adventures instead of stuff.

This time last year, Suzie, a working mother of two, was obese and miserable. Today, she’s a trim, fit powerhouse of health and vitality, who’s a hero at home. She lost 50kg and trekked to Machu Picchu, fulfilling a bucket list dream and rediscovering her life.

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Not only do shared adventures in nature motivate us to become our fittest selves but the lessons they teach give us the resilience and strength to manage the stresses and strains of city life as well as tapping into our natural pleasure motivators.

Psychologist, Dr Gordon Livingstone, cites three keys to happiness: Something to do (a plan), someone to love (friends) and something to look forward to (purpose). So, if you want a life you love, you need these three things.

Check out more of Di’s adventures on Instagram. (Post continues after gallery.)

A challenging hike with friends can be the catalyst to launch you out of bed to get fit, even in the rain. You’ll throw off the doona, lace up your runners, grab your coffee and get outside, doing tough stuff.

1. Purpose: Adventure is the purpose that drives your motivation to action.

2. People: Friendliness and fear of letting your friends down motivate you to action.

3. Plan: Your plan tells you what to do, which motivates you to action.

4. Nature: Nature wraps the whole package in fun, surprise and thrill, which motivates you to action.

This neuroscience proven combination of purpose, people and plan makes motivation easier, not just to get you moving, but to achieve anything in life that’s challenging. But when you do it in nature, you’re super-powered.

This goes back to our cavewoman days when we were motivated to move wildly in search of food and safety. But today 85% of us are too busy, too tired, too full, too fat or too frantic to move and exercise is too hard, sweaty, painful, boring and expensive. We’re no longer motivated to move at all.

But adventure can help get us off the couch and into nature so that we can lead an adventurous life we love.

Adventure energises you. It recharges and rejuvenates. It puts a spring in your step, pink in your cheeks and a sparkle in your eyes. Some doctors call it Lifestyle Medicine. We call it natural exhilaration.

Di Westaway is the Chief Adventure Chick (CEO) and Founder of Wild Women On Top and Coastrek, and author of Natural Exhilaration: Lead An Adventurous Life You Love. 

Di is a global leader & 2016 AFR/Westpac Top 100 Woman of Influence in Business Enterprise. She has inspired nearly 20,000 people to get off the couch and into adventure and raised almost $20 million for charity while leading an adventurous life she loves. 

You can follow Di on Instagram here or sign up for Wild Women On Top’s newsletter here.

This article was originally published at Wild Women on Top and has been republished with full permission.

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