There are only two things that never fail to put me in a great mood:
The first one is obvious: sex. Even "okay sex" is still sex.
The second is time in nature.
It makes sense when you think about it. Both are highly immersive experiences that pull you out of time, and its myriad problems, and drop you into the present moment. Both include large amounts of pleasurable and fascinating stimuli.
They're also both things every human could probably do with a bit more of.
But present moment, now-inducing experience is not even the best part about time spent in nature. So, if you think you just "don't have time" go outside, or you fail to make it a priority, there's good news:
By the time you're done reading this, you won't be able to ignore or put off spending time in nature.
To better understand this claim, let's look at why this habit is so powerful. Time in the nature or the wild is what author Charles Duhigg of The Power of Habit refers to as a Keystone Habit.
In other words, it's a habit that has a domino effect on many other habits.
Here's just a small handful of the benefits of nature exposure (it's almost like we evolved for it, funny idea, yeah?)
When you add up all those things it's easy to see why spending more time in nature is when one of the most important habits you can develop.
The best part though is that it's completely FREE, and therefore available to EVERYONE.
“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” —Thoreau
So, how do you know if you have a deficit of nature in your life? And what exactly is "Nature Deficit Disorder" anyway?
The term was coined by author Richard Louv. He describes it as such:
"Nature-deficit disorder is not a formal diagnosis, but a way to describe the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years."
If that sounds like you, don't worry. You are not alone. I used to feel this way... until I decided to finally do something about it.
I swear it wasn't always this way...
As a kid I never had any trouble getting outside. Sure, video games were cool, but so was riding my bike, playing in the creek and trying to build tree forts.
Getting older, it's easy to think that I just don't have the time to get outside, or that it's too cold/wet/whatever.
These are all just excuses, of course. I sometimes spend hours on pointless email checking, social media or watching MMA videos on youtube. And yeah, the weather is a real thing, but that's what gear is made for. As a friend of mine likes to say "there's no bad weather, just bad gear."
So, what I've been doing is tricking myself into thinking that nature time is productive, and making it a part of my daily practice.
Particularly, I've done three main things to force and even trick myself into getting outside:
The key I've found is to not try to find more time to get outside, but to embed time outside into the things you're already doing.
“Nowadays almost all man's improvements, so called, as the building of houses and the cutting down of the forest and of all large trees, simply deform the landscape, and make it more and more tame and cheap.” —Thoreau
So, how can you get more time outside and cure your own NDD?
The reality is, we didn't get to spending 90% of our waking hours indoors over night. Domestication creeped up on us and before we knew it, the things we thought were advancements actually turned out to cause some serious damage to our health and wellbeing.
So, having patience and a progressive transition to outdoor exposure is key. Go easy on yourself. Even 10 minutes of moving outside is a great place to start if you're currently doing zero.
I find it very amusing that I'm typing shit into a computer to help inspire and empower you to spend less time on screens.
It does bring up an interesting point though. We can use technology to reverse and undo some of the damage it's caused. We can use it to connect with likeminded folks and find local training partners. We can set reminders on our phones to get up and move. And we can even block ourselves from using screens with clever apps so we aren't slaves to our devices.
Technology is amazing. I love it. I love connecting with you. I've learned so much through the amazing and vast resources of information that have been enabled by it.
But we must wield it consciously, lest we become slaves to it.
If not, we aren't the owners of the devices. The devices end up owning us.
Please share your thoughts: What's your biggest struggle with getting outdoors? Are there any strategies that have really worked for you?
Leave a comment and share with the tribe so we can all benefit from it.
photo courtesy of chancellor