Getting Away

Over the long weekend, I had the chance to go up to a cottage. It was 2 hours away from the city, surrounded by trees, surrounded by farmland. In essence, it was in the middle of nowhere. And that was a great thing.

The drive up there was very relaxing a half hour out of the city. There were green and yellow pastures as far as the eye could see, gorgeous white puffy clouds against a backdrop of sky blue, and the air just kept getting crisper and cleaner as I went.

Having the chance to sit at the cottage outside, things were different compared to my time in my backyard. The air flowing through many trees created the perfect white noise, a calm hiss like waves against a beach. When it began to rain, you could hear the rain approaching as the drops on the leaves would get louder and louder. Sitting and reading for several hours in this area, with its clean air, surrounded by nature, was nothing short of refreshing.

Then, driving back late at night, I found myself becoming even more relaxed. There was hardly any civilization to worry about. It was just me, my car, the moon, and the silent whir of the motor. It was a fundamentally different experience driving up at night than in the city. No distractions. No lights. Just calm, tranquility. The solitude provides an excellent opportunity to get to know yourself.

I hope you had a chance to get away from it all. If you haven’t, you should. You may find parts of yourself that you lost.

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Step Out Into Nature

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There is definitely something about nature that brings calm to us all. Maybe it’s because we live in concrete jungles, where we grow used to shades of grey, where we are bombarded by artificial sounds, and artificial air, and artificial light…or maybe there’s an ancient part of us which despite all of our technological development longs for simplicity from a time when having food, water, shelter, and family were all we needed to be truly happy.

Whatever it is, stepping out into nature once in a while is immensely rewarding.

I had the opportunity to do this early this morning when I stepped outside and looked out my backyard to the large trees that surround it. The sun was gently poking through the green leaves, the air was crisp and cool, and the faintest sound of young birds chirping, or squirrels starting their day, could be heard.

If you haven’t already done so, take a walk somewhere GREEN today. Let your lungs fill with the air around you. Do this every day until you have the opportunity to go somewhere away from the city, where you can allow your lungs the even better opportunity of non-city air.

Stepping out into nature can remind us of the things we have to be grateful for. Or at least provide us with a connection to the natural world around us.

For many of us, this little shift is exactly what we need to shake up the routine of the normal, and add a little mindfulness or gratefulness in our lives.

 

Your Turn: I’d love to hear about what your thoughts are on stepping out into nature. Do you find it relaxing? Calming? Does it make you think? Or do the many thoughts quiet down a bit? What are some of your favourite natural settings?

“Feed your brain.”

“Feed your brain.”

Different things can inspire us, motivate us, or make us think. The act of thinking alone is an exercise that allows our mind to explore alternative viewpoints, and gather new knowledge. Much like our bodies need nutrients, our minds also need stimulation. Think back to the last time you really stimulated your mind. What did you do?

I was fortunate enough to meet up with a few friends yesterday and meet someone who was a physicist. When I was younger, I used to love astronomy but I slowly let it fade into the background of life. Meeting this man was an opportunity to open my mind and have him try and fill it with what he knew. Our conversation turned to life, the universe and everything, and one of my friends asked him a complicated question: “What came before the big bang then?”

As a physicist who was used to some of these very complicated ideas, he tried to explain. “‘What came before?’ may not necessarily be the right question to ask.” And he proceeded to explain why. His reply was complicated, but he used many examples to eventually help us understand his reasoning. In the end, we were left with an image of our universe that was breathtaking, beautiful, and horrific at the same time.

Grasping these complex concepts took a bit of work. Occasionally we would ask him to give us a pause to process. But at the end of our discussion, all of us were left thinking. There was a kind of peaceful tranquility about having learned something new, and I could see it in his eyes too since he had just helped us all learn it (which had no doubt helped him process and articulate some otherwise very complication concepts).

Happiness can come from stimulation. But the feeling of “newness” doesn’t have to come from material possessions. It can come from new ideas, new perspectives, new experiences. Seek them out. A jolt of happiness and inspiration can be only one new idea away.

Brain Flash

Two of My Favourite Places for New Ideas
Ted – Ideas Worth Spreading
The RSA

“Embrace your inner child.”

“Embrace your inner child.”

As a child, there were a lot of things that we did without shame or remorse that filled us with immeasurable joy. Often, they were very simple things. As we get older, other things occupy our time, and maybe those once simple things become worn and out dated. But after a while, recalling those things can seem new again, and can bring the kind of joy that was thought only possible as a child.

As a child, I loved finding a tree and climbing onto the first solid branch I could find. It was a challenge to climb some, but getting to where I needed to be, feeling much, MUCH taller than MOST people made me feel like I was on top of the world. I think I was around 13 years old when I climbed my last tree. Just a few days ago, on a random whim by a very good friend of mine, I was dared to climb the tree in the park we were walking in. At first, there was my initial hesitation: “That’s so childish, I’m an adult, I’m in a suit, What will others think?” and so forth.

Tree Climb

Maybe I’d had a good day, but I decided to accept the dare, and climb the tree. Being much taller than before, it was much easier than I remembered, and yet hitting that first stable branch several meters in the air still had the emotional significant it had as a child.

There are many things we forget as children. Our memories can be very fickle things. But some things we can easily revive if we simply allow ourselves to do so. For many of us, childhood is a time of fun, excitement, newness, discovery, and exploration. As we age, the tendency can sometimes be to discard those simple pleasures for a new car, a job, etc. We are as old as we act, and while as adults we are given much greater responsibilities, there is nothing saying that we can’t retain the same youthful enthusiasm we had as children.

What are some of the things you used to do as a child? Indulge in a little sense of play. Embrace your inner child just a bit this weekend. And if you have kids, or younger relatives, join in on their sense of play!

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“Spend some time under the stars. Give yourself perspective.”

“Spend some time under the stars. Give yourself perspective.”

Since the dawn of human civilization, our species has been awe stricken with what we see above us. As the night sky would be our companion in the dark, stories were told, patterns were seen, and that sense of awe was never lost. If you live in a major city, odds are you don’t see too much of the night sky anymore. Light pollution has whited out much of what could be there.

If you have some spare time on a clear night, drive an hour out of the city. Find a small patch of non-civilization and take a look at the night sky. When you think about it, our star is just one of billions in our galaxy alone. And our galaxy is just one of billions in the universe. We look around our planet and we think that it is large, it is limitless. But really, it is a tiny speck when compared to everything else.

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The night sky is a wonderful way to gain a little bit of perspective on yourself and your place in everything. On the one hand, it makes you seem so small, so insignificant, that when you think about all of your worries you realize they really aren’t that big a deal. They’re manageable when compared to the massiveness of everything else. On the other hand, with life being as rare as it is, and intelligent life being even rarer, take a moment to truly appreciate being alive, to appreciate your surroundings, to appreciate the planet you’re on. Not only were the circumstances for life as a whole perfect on our small little world, but through many factors, your own existence came to be. How many others are you sharing the night sky with? How many others are starting at the same point in space at that very moment? Take a moment to really appreciate the preciousness of life.

Indulge in the beauty of the night sky. Whatever your reaction, however you look at it, its bound to give you a bit of perspective…

“Stand in the sunlight for a few minutes.”

“Stand in the sunlight for a few minutes.”

Because I’ve been indoors and in bed for the past week, and because the weather was gorgeous today, I decided to step outside and just stand in the backyard with the sun beaming down on me. I must have spent only 5 minutes out there in the afternoon sun, but coming back indoors I felt as if I’d napped for 50 minutes.

Sunlight

In our excessively indoor lifestyles, we often forget the power and warmth of the sun. Drawn in by our artificial lighting that can deprive the meaning of night and day, we’ve lost a little contact with the sun. It’s also why there seems to be an epidemic of vitamin C deficiency amongst many of my peers.

But we don’t give the sunlight enough of a chance in our lives. Sure, the weather has been unpredictable lately, and there’s no telling how long the sun will last before some cloud swoops in to rain on our parade, but as long as its out there, take a small mini break and step outside into the sun. Close your eyes and just let the warm rays of the sun beam down on your body, warming it up. You can’t simulate that with warm heat lamps. Nothing else can come quite as close. Our bodies were made to enjoy a little bit of sunshine each and every day, and in our hectic schedules, we often forget this little fact.

Schedule in 5 minutes of sun, to brighten up the rest of your day 😉

Sunman