5 Life Lessons I Learned From Surfing

Kailey Seabrooke
October 1, 2019

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to surf. 

Growing up in Ontario nowhere near an ocean I’m not even sure where I even first laid my eyes on a surfboard but some how I swear I knew that the sea was part of my soul. The first time I actually embraced a surfboard was on vacation in Bali in 2009. I hired a cute Indo boy to give me a lesson and from there I worked my little biceps off until I could actually paddle my way into waves and eventually navigate them on my feet.

Surfing for me is the ultimate meditation. It makes me feel totally at one with the great mother Earth. You get to float in her gentle supportive waters, ride her literal pulse and experience her limitless power. I’ve also learned the hard way that in her presence it is best to be humble or else its a pretty safe bet that she will humble you.


Over years of surfing waves all over the world I have learned an immense amount about the ocean and the Earth but even more about myself and how to be in the world. While I have learned more lessons than I can count, these are my top five takeaways from life on a surfboard.

1. Relax

You are most definitely going to eat s#it surfing whether you are flopping around out there like a baby seal or are surfing like the next Steph Gilmore. While there will be learning curves that make you feel like you are drowning the only way to get through them is to relax. In the surf this means that you are going through the washing machine of white water and doing so with the same resistance as your actual laundry. 

By fighting the inevitable and unchangeable you are wasting the precious energetic resources that you are going to need when the chaos stops. This is the same in life. Be smart and weather the storm with a sense of calm and grace. Save your energy for the times in your life where it can be used effectively and efficiently.

2. Check Your Perspective

I was living in Bali surfing in a way that I thought was totally styling. Then I learned that there were photographers on the beach constantly snapping away so they could sell you your shots. When I started checking out their images of my sweet steeze I realized that I looked like a total kook! 

By seeing my actions from a different perspective I was able to compare how I looked with how I felt and could understand how the two were not always synonymous. I was then able to make some rapid progress as I could pinpoint where my problem areas were and how to improve them. Never underestimate the power of a fresh perspective for personal optimization in the water or in your world.

3. First in Line doesn’t always mean it’s your turn


There are many rules in surfing etiquette and they are there for safety and fairness. One concept is that of the “line up.” This doesn’t necessarily mean the first person in line catches a wave and the next in line catches the next one. It means that surfers are spread out over a general linear area where the next wave is likely to break and be ridden from. 

Now, just because you are in a prime position doesn’t mean you are going to effortlessly glide down that beautiful wall of water, you have got to work for it. You have to pay attention to where you are in comparison to all that moving water, obstacles and your neighbors. You need to adjust your speed, your weight on your board and decide if you are going to lean into it and take off, dig a little harder or just wait for the next one. 

Just because it seems like it’s your turn it doesn’t mean that anything is a sure thing. When everything is going your way take advantage of this opportunity and use your resources to succeed. If you always assume things are just going to effortlessly work out opportunities are just going to float on by.

4. Work Smart not Hard

Well work smart and then hard! If you are working your ass off to dig your way into waves that aren’t actually breaking you are just going to exhaust yourself and have to paddle back to shore tired and disappointed. Before you paddle out watch the ocean and how she is moving and where her waves are breaking. See how others are surfing, where they are totally killing it and where they are struggling. Learn from the trials and errors of others. Observe, reflect and gather your resources. On your surfboard and in your life, don't re-invent the wheel but learn from those who have. Then go get em tiger!

5. Stay Focused on Where you Want to Go


I can’t tell you how many mushy white water waves I have ridden because I was afraid the wave was going to close out on me. In surfing like most sports and most things in life you need to stay focused on where you want to be in order to get there. If you are taking off on a wave and you think the whole thing is going to shut down on you so you look straight down you are going to go straight down with it. If you look down at that beautiful green arc in front of you and race toward it then that’s the direction you are going to be headed. 

Don’t get me wrong, waves break off into sections and natural or human obstacles show up in your way but with a little focus and determination you can often navigate your way around them.

I am not always living on a perfect surf break and when I am that doesn't mean that the wave is always working or that I am physically capable of surfing it. What I can always do however, is take the lessons that I have learned in my favorite watery wonderlands and apply them to the ebb and flow of every day life. When we can take our teachings from our favorite classrooms and allow them to transform our worlds our potential for growth is truly limitless.

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Kailey Seabrooke
Kailey Seabrooke is a life loving, tale telling, world traveling holistic nutritionist and yoga instructor. She works her buns off to live big every day and help others become their best selves one bite, breath, and moment at a time.


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