For whatever reason, it’s quite easy to forget that nature has the power to impact us in the same way any other living thing can.
Depending on who we are – hikers, bird-watchers, or devout city dwellers – a trip into the wilderness may present an opportunity to get in a hard workout, a glimpse at a rare breed of kingfisher or an attempt at an expedition where our survival skills (if any) are tested.
From home, the outdoors can seem bland and boring. But, those of us who embrace nature understand being outside can help us expand our minds, stretch and strengthen our bodies, and awe and rejuvenate us in unique ways that will keep us coming back for more. We realize nature is alive, full of striking beauty and complexity that is often hidden in its deceptive simplicity.
When people plan going on a camping trip, they tend to think of it as a series of connected “camping” activities. They’ll probably roast s’mores, take a hike in the woods – possibly getting a glimpse of some wildlife, and spend some time seeing the sights.
While all of these things are fun, I think most people know the most moving experiences we can have outdoors are those that result from being in nature.
Think about watching the sunset, listening to trickling water drip from melting snow and feeling the sun’s warm embrace while relaxing on a quiet beach. These are not exactly the things most of us would consider to be goals we’d jot down on our “to-do” lists. Instead, we think of these things as “the highlights” of the outing itself. And, in some ways, they are.
Nature can certainly provide an escape from the pings, buzzes, stock ticker alerts and demanding emails flooding our daily lives. The smells, sights, and motions of our living world helps us connect to the earth and others around us. Being in nature can have a significant effect on our mental well-being, which is why the connection between our minds and the great outdoors has been the subject of several recent studies.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” -John Muir
A trip to the great outdoors is a great way to contemplate the relationships we share with each other. The growing body of scientific research that supports this idea is gaining momentum. There’s reason to believe the time we spend in nature can impact our mood and self-esteem, alleviate depression and have a general therapeutic effect.
The irony here is that you’re reading all of this from some kind of screen. So, I am encouraging you to go take a hike, chill out on the beach or hang out at a park with someone you care about. Spend some time appreciating the unexpected sights you’re bound to encounter. You’ll be surprised by how much you will understand about yourself and the world.
Being in nature often provides people game-changing insight about their lives, as well as the strength they need to act on it!
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