I’m in a leadership pod and we wrapped up our meeting this week with an exercise. We were to take a walk outside just ourselves and nature. No earbuds playing music or an audio book or podcast. No phone for texting or talking. Totally unplugged. It was a beautiful day and I was up for the challenge. Here’s what I experienced on my way to and around a nearby middle school track.
- It didn’t take very long after leaving my neighborhood to hear birds chirping. The closer I got to the track, it sounded like a bird convention!
- I observed two siblings riding their bikes. The girl wanted a snack that was in the backpack her older brother was carrying. He wasn’t stopping and she was thirsty!
- A man who passed me had a beard that went down to his waist. I’ve never seen a beard like that. I wondered if he’d been growing it since COVID hit.
- I heard the sound of silverware and then smelled hamburgers. I imagined they were from an outdoor grill. I couldn’t tell because of a high fence. It smelled so good I almost stopped and asked for a bite. I was hungry!
- I kept passing what looked like a folded up note. Each lap around the track I imagined it was some kind of message. Like a message in a bottle without the bottle. On my last lap, I finally bent down to take a look. Turns out it was just a folded up napkin (which I didn’t touch!).
When you’re really listening, nature has a lot to say. Emma Seppälä, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism, shows in her research that spending any amount of time in nature has a positive impact on our psychological and physiological health. It is profoundly healing for us humans to be in nature. And that doesn’t mean you have to travel to the mountains or a rain forest. Going to a local park, walking in your neighborhood and just getting outside helps. Even a picture of nature on the wall or a plant in your office makes a difference. Seppälä’s research showed that if people were able to be in nature for three days, their creativity improved 50%. That’s remarkable — and a great reason to get outside this weekend and enjoy nature! Or talk to your plants or contemplate a picture of the ocean.
Unplug this weekend and then share your experience with me!