'Anything is possible if you just believe'

Ocean adventurer Laird Hamilton shares his strategies for making the most of every day
By Katherine Nichols

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 02, 2008
Interviewing Laird Hamilton is simple. There's only one question, really: How do I get (or become, as the case may be) a man like you? Not possible, it turns out, but Hamilton is willing to share a few tips to help people reach their full potential in all areas of life. He's done exactly that in "Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, and, of course, Surfing," a book filled with easily digested text and inspiring pictures of beautiful people (namely Hamilton and his exquisite wife, Gabrielle Reece, and their children), but notably devoid of a catalogue of accomplishments from a man who has plenty to boast about.
Instead, it's a refreshingly accessible window into his personal philosophies and strategies, including the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, dealing with fear and negativity, and staying fit with minimal spare time. There are practical suggestions for circuit training and a few yoga poses anyone can do. Reece and The Food Network's Giada DeLaurentiis even contributed recipes. And, of course, it wouldn't be complete without the section on surfing and gear.
As expected, Hamilton's name overshadows the title, and the man himself is well aware of his brand - a complex blend of hope, commitment and idealism.
"In a nutshell, it's 'anything is possible if you just believe,'" Hamilton said from his home on Maui during a break in his national book tour. "A lot of my ocean lessons are kind of formulaic for life. I think at the end of the day, surfing is just a reflection of some of the other beliefs. Also, what I represent visually is a reflection of the work, dedication and time that I have into it."
That extreme level of fitness - at age 44 - helps him master his art, which has included tow-in surfing massive waves for films such as "Waterman," "Step into Liquid" and "Riding Giants," paddling across the English Channel on a standup board and riding bikes nearly 500 miles across all of the Hawaiian Islands while stand-up paddling the channels between (the latter done with renowned waterman Dave Kalama, to raise autism awareness).
Though he surfs all over the world, Hamilton's roots remain here. He grew up in Wainiha on Kauai, past Hanalei, "at the end of the road." Though he has split his time between Maui and Malibu for the past 13 years, "being raised in Hawaii definitely molded me in a way that is a large part of who I am ... giving me an appreciation for the beauty and power of nature that is such an intricate part of Hawaiian culture, resulting in respect."
It also keeps him from wearing shoes - no matter where he is. "I'm pretty comfortable in cold weather, and I hate being overheated," he said. "I'm always in slippers (at ski resorts) unless I have to put boots on for snowboarding."
In writing the book, Hamilton hoped to share information he has found helpful. But it also became a way for him to better understand his own thoughts. After all, Hamilton's life hasn't been perfect. His biological father abandoned him at birth, and he dropped out of school in the 11th grade. Yet, he allowed nothing to interfere with his pursuit of the life he envisioned. Even so, he wants people to know the book is not an autobiography.
"We're trying to draw you in through either my brand or surfing, but ultimately there's something in that book for everybody," he said. "And there might be one little thing that makes a huge difference in somebody's life, and that would be the greatest result. If you sell a million books and help one person in some sort of real positive way, that's a true measurement of success."
Interviewing Laird Hamilton is simple. There's only one question, really: How do I get (or become, as the case may be) a man like you?
Not possible, it turns out, but Hamilton is willing to share a few tips to help people reach their full potential in all areas of life. He's done exactly that in "Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, and, of course, Surfing," a book filled with easily digested text and inspiring pictures of beautiful people (namely Hamilton and his exquisite wife, Gabrielle Reece, and their children), but notably devoid of a catalogue of accomplishments from a man who has plenty to boast about.
Instead, it's a refreshingly accessible window into his personal philosophies and strategies, including the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, dealing with fear and negativity, and staying fit with minimal spare time. There are practical suggestions for circuit training and a few yoga poses anyone can do. Reece and The Food Network's Giada DeLaurentiis even contributed recipes. And, of course, it wouldn't be complete without the section on surfing and gear.
As expected, Hamilton's name overshadows the title, and the man himself is well aware of his brand - a complex blend of hope, commitment and idealism.
"In a nutshell, it's 'anything is possible if you just believe,'" Hamilton said from his home on Maui during a break in his national book tour. "A lot of my ocean lessons are kind of formulaic for life. I think at the end of the day, surfing is just a reflection of some of the other beliefs. Also, what I represent visually is a reflection of the work, dedication and time that I have into it."
That extreme level of fitness - at age 44 - helps him master his art, which has included tow-in surfing massive waves for films such as "Waterman," "Step into Liquid" and "Riding Giants," paddling across the English Channel on a standup board and riding bikes nearly 500 miles across all of the Hawaiian Islands while stand-up paddling the channels between (the latter done with renowned waterman Dave Kalama, to raise autism awareness).
Though he surfs all over the world, Hamilton's roots remain here. He grew up in Wainiha on Kauai, past Hanalei, "at the end of the road." Though he has split his time between Maui and Malibu for the past 13 years, "being raised in Hawaii definitely molded me in a way that is a large part of who I am ... giving me an appreciation for the beauty and power of nature that is such an intricate part of Hawaiian culture, resulting in respect."
It also keeps him from wearing shoes - no matter where he is. "I'm pretty comfortable in cold weather, and I hate being overheated," he said. "I'm always in slippers (at ski resorts) unless I have to put boots on for snowboarding."
In writing the book, Hamilton hoped to share information he has found helpful. But it also became a way for him to better understand his own thoughts. After all, Hamilton's life hasn't been perfect. His biological father abandoned him at birth, and he dropped out of school in the 11th grade. Yet, he allowed nothing to interfere with his pursuit of the life he envisioned. Even so, he wants people to know the book is not an autobiography.
"We're trying to draw you in through either my brand or surfing, but ultimately there's something in that book for everybody," he said. "And there might be one little thing that makes a huge difference in somebody's life, and that would be the greatest result. If you sell a million books and help one person in some sort of real positive way, that's a true measurement of success."
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