blue ridge therapeutic wilderness

What is your Four Leaf Clover? Adopting a Values-Based Approach

There are many reasons to be terrified of the wilderness.

Walk through a field during a Georgia summer, and you might grow fearful of what could happen. If you think about it hard enough, you might realize the possibility of being stuck in a thunderstorm, or finding hungry little ticks attached to your ankles. You might feel the unrelenting heat of the July sun beating down on your face, or the aching of that special rash you got from hiking yesterday. You may find the ominous remains of a small rodent, or spend your time dodging ant hills like mines.

But if you adopt an alternative perspective, you could have a different experience. You might remember all the times it was cold and rainy, and rejoice in the splendor of temporary heat and sunlight. Maybe you’ll encounter a unique flower, an adorable little amphibian, or a patch of fluffy dandelions ready to disperse their pappi.

If you intentionally redirect your focus, you might even find a four leaf clover.

The predominant credo is that discovering a four leaf clover means good luck. But what if to find a four leaf clover means that you were simply looking for one?

In wilderness (and life), perspective is a gift. To learn that we control our perspective – and that it can change – is a triumph of being human. Our perspective can shift our mindset, emotions, and even our physical state of being.

The Four Leaf Clover Principle helps guide us towards abundance.

When we seek out a four leaf clover, we focus on something outside of ourselves. We focus on coming upon a great discovery, a thrilling moment, a rare opportunity. We can forget about the thunder rolling in the distance and the itchy bug bites for a while, and bring our energy to what we want to have rather than what we don’t.

When we focus upon attaining our desires, the things we don’t want to slide away into the darkness. This shift in focus creates a bright opening, and an opportunity to embrace abundance.

In the woods, students learn that the embodiment of scarcity is unsustainable.

Students at Blue Ridge often enter the program with a default setting of scarcity. Typically, they begin their wilderness journey focused on their emotional and physical discomfort. Perhaps they frantically stammer through reasons why they shouldn’t be in the woods, or stubbornly express disdain towards the food options, sleeping arrangements, or their less-than-fashionable ensemble. Perhaps they act out, or shut down. Usually, this escapist mindset is emotionally and physically draining, and can even delay their graduation.

In order to thrive, they must shift their perspective and adopt an abundance mindset. Students’ personal transformation occurs when they focus on abundance; when they figure out what their Four Leaf Clover is.

When students realize and accept what has been holding them back, they are able to shift their focus onto how they want to live going forward. Their Four Leaf Clover represents this, and is often illustrated best by distinguishing what their values are. Perhaps their Four Leaf Clover looks like Love, Trust, Connection, and Peace. Perhaps it’s Resilience, Family, Independence, and Authenticity.

When students commit to seeking out their Four Leaf Clover, the troubles and obstacles they’re used to focusing on slip away, diminishing in both usefulness and significance. They are empowered to take actionable steps towards renewal and alignment with their values.

The Four Leaf Clover Principle applies to all of us.

Wilderness is frequently described as a simplified version of life; The woods is our life and its complimentary hardships, and the group is our family. The scarcity mindset is not exclusive to the wilderness, however; Parents frequently play into this way of thinking as often as their students do.

From the desire to create healing and peace in their lives, parents often fall into the habit of “fixing” things, primarily detecting what is off-track or uncomfortable in their family. They might pay the most attention to their child when he or she is acting in a way that is destructive, or grant awards based around “not” doing certain things. They might spend sleepless nights focusing on the problems, the what-ifs, and the failures.

It’s normal for conflict and problems to exist in any family, but these issues might not need to require so much of our energy. When we remain aware of what’s going well and determine what our Four Leaf Clover looks like, we are able to shift our perspective towards living in integrity with our values, both in and out of the wilderness.

So – What is your Four Leaf Clover?