As a kid, I never stopped to think much about Colorado or about why my parents were so adamant about living there — to me, it was just where I came from. But as I’ve grown up and become at least a little bit wiser, I’ve realized that living in the rectangle state has largely shaped everything from my personality to my overall world view. Living in Colorado has taught me some crucial life lessons that I might see differently were I from somewhere else.

1. It feels good to wake up early.

It’s been said that the number one way to ruin a powder day is to show up hungover. It’s a bit of a paradox in a state that loves to party as much as Colorado, but as I’ve started pushing into my thirties I’m finding less of a reason to argue. Not only does waking up early minimize traffic, parking woes, and provide first access to the day’s powder, more and more it just seems like a better way to live. It doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun at night, but the ‘first chair last call’ mentality I employed for so many years is on its way out and I’m more than ready to wave goodbye.

2. Living life without pursuing my passions is completely pointless.

At 17, I undertook the quest of figuring out where to go to college. I had only one requirement: the school must be located somewhere where I can go snowboarding every single day during winter. I moved to Durango, in southwest Colorado, and the more I got into the culture there, the more I realized that just about everyone was living there for similar reasons. It’s a great place for outdoors enthusiasts to pursue their passions. Those who had been doing that the longest were easy to pick out because they were the happiest, and that has always stuck with me.

3. Everyone is a tourist somewhere.

In Colorado, we poke a lot of fun at the tourists who flood our state on ski vacations in winter and road trips in summer. They always look so out of place. The first time I went surfing, I was terrible at it and looked absolutely ridiculous. I haven’t gotten much better, but I can laugh a little more lightheartedly now when someone approaches me and asks “Am I going to run into any snow cats on this run?”

4. Appreciate what you have.

Often, I feel kind of lame for continuing to live in the same state I was born and grew up in. On social media, I see updates from friends who live in far-away places, and while I’m relatively well-traveled I haven’t lived outside of Colorado in my adult life. But I’m confident there is a reason for that. Where I live is beautiful, provides both amazing and easy access to my hobbies, and the people I interact with on a daily basis live here because of the lifestyle provided. All things considered, I have nothing to feel lame about.

5. Take a chill pill.

Life is stressful. Sometimes shit is going to hit the fan, and no matter how hard I try to prevent it from happening, there isn’t anything I can do about it. But it’s all good — people are still smiling around me, the mountains are still right in my backyard, and there isn’t much that can’t be solved by chilling out for a bit and then approaching the problem from a different angle. Living in a relaxed place with happy residents has taught me that much.

6. Just because something’s different doesn’t mean it’s not awesome.

Let’s face it — Colorado is incredibly homogenous. It can be hard to remember that most of the world is not comprised of middle-class white people with a dog who love to camp and ski. But the influx of people into our state, in addition to stark differences already in place (just look at the two biggest cities), shines a bright light on the value of diversity and importance of keeping an open mind. We’re all in this together.

7. To get to someone’s heart, understand where they came from.

Regardless of where a person is from, their past plays an unmistakable role in who they are today. When I was younger, I frequently made claims like ‘I should live there and be like that’ without realizing that even if I did live there, I would never be exactly like someone from there. Learning to be proud of where I’m from has helped me understand why, in a relationship, it’s equally as important to understand where one’s partner is from.

8. When all else fails, go outside.

Sometimes I just need to get out and reconnect with nature a bit. Every season has its benefits, and the inevitable shift between them always provides a new set of fresh air-based activities to look forward to. I’ve never found a better way to gain motivation or give my self-esteem a nice boost than by pushing my limits in an outdoor setting, and always seem to finish with a fresh outlook on just about everything.