By now pretty much everyone with a brain agrees that evolution is a thing. By that I mean that species adapt and evolve over time to meet the demands of their environment. We human beings are no exception. The point I’m trying to make here is that we haven’t always lived in houses with electricity, televisions, computers, the interwebs, and e-readers. Believe it or not, we used to spend the VAST majority of our time outside. However, today we spend most of our time sitting down and looking at a screen. This is bad for our happiness levels.
When was the last time you laid down in the grass on a sunny day and just concentrated on the moment with the sun warming your skin, the grass tickling your neck and arms, the wind gently stirring your hair and brushing across your face? Now, when was the last time you sat in a chair with wheels, staring at a screen, cultivating carpel tunnel, under the fluorescent glow of artificial light? Which one sounds more appealing?
You might be saying to yourself right now, “Well of course I’ve worked on a computer recently,” or “I’m not a granola-munching, hemp-necklace-wearing hippie named ‘Sunshine,’ so of course I haven’t basked in the sun recently.” I’m not trying to say that you should quit your day job, or spend all your time laying on the ground. I just want to point out that, if you’re honest with yourself, the laying down in the grass scenario sounds pretty appealing, while the office cubicle sounds pretty sucky, and yet almost none of us make time for the former, while almost all of us make time for the latter.
I am aware that you have to make a living (unless you already put in your time and are retired), but enjoying a totally bitchin’ sunny day doesn’t take much more than a few minutes, and your brain and body will thank you for it. There are a ton of scientific studies detailing how the human body and brain are much happier when they get a lot of sunlight. Not to mention that a lack of sunlight can quickly lead to depression (look up S.A.D., common in the northern U.S., Alaska, and Canada).
And sunlight is not the only aspect of being outside that increases happiness. Feeling the wind or rain on your skin is also awesome. When was the last time you intentionally let a rain drop hit your exposed skin? I can almost guarantee you tried to get your parents to let you play in the rain as a child. At what age do we start thinking we are the Wicked Witch of the West? Rain on your bare skin feels good. Try stepping outside for a minute or two without a coat or umbrella the next time a non-lightning-producing rain shower comes your way (not if the weather is too cold though, don’t want to catch pneumonia or anything). You might actually enjoy it.
So unless you work outdoors, or your name is Sunshine, do yourself a favor and start spending more time outdoors immediately. If the whole ‘basking in the sunlight’ thing sounds too hippy-dippy for you, then just try a daily walk of 10-15 minutes. Seriously, you have no idea how much better it will make your day. Not to mention the exercise (more on exercise in upcoming posts).
What are your favorite outdoor activities? Do you have creative solutions to fitting more time outdoors into a busy schedule?