What is your happy place? A place where you would love to be right now, if you could?
Last week I was listening to the Fat Burning Man podcast and they posed an interesting hypothesis: When people were asked to think of an happy place, about 90 % of them would pick a place that is outdoors.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it is. Most of us would choose to be at the beach, in the mountains or somewhere else in the nature. Sounds way more appealing than sitting in your office chair, right?
Obviously there are exceptions. When you are really tired and need a good sleep, the only place you want to be is in your bedroom in your bed. But in general, if you were told to close your eyes and think of a happy place where you'd like to be right now, you probably wouldn't want to be inside.
Our Happiest Places Are Outside
Let me guess where you'd most likely want to be, if you could go there right now:
- Lying by the pool
- Getting a tan at the beach
- Lying in a hammock, a good book in one hand and a Mojito in the other
- Hiking in a forest
- Catching waves on your surf board
- Skiing in the mountains
- Having a lunch or drinks on the outside patio of a good restaurant
- Having a beach picnic
- Taking a walk with a good friend or significant other
- Playing outside with your kids
- Exploring a new city
Did I guess right?
It's In Our Genetics
The fact that most of us say that their happy place is being somewhere outside shows that deep inside we are exactly like our great ancestors, even if there are thousands of years separating us from them.
The need to be outside is rooted in our genetics. Thousands of years ago there was no such thing as inside. Our ancestors may have built themselves shelters or hidden in caves to protect themselves from bad weather or an enemy, but they didn't stay there for the whole day.
The thing is, nowadays we are pretty much forced to spend the majority of our time inside. We work indoors, we sleep indoors, eat indoors, work out indoors. Our modern life with offices, shopping malls, gyms and comfortable homes where we can sit inside and watch TV without moving a tiniest bit has completely buried the need to go outside.
But you should go out.
Forget the Stuffy Gym – Get Outside and Play!
Fresh air creates miracles. Having lived 28 years of my life in a country with four seasons, there was nothing better than the first signs of spring. After being basically forced to be inside all winter long, I would feel antsy, I wouldn't be able to sit inside and work, I would have the physical need to go outside when the sun is finally breaking though the clouds.
What's the reason why so many gyms stay empty in summer? It's not necessarily that people get lazy, but it's that it's just a million times more fun to be outside. And I can't blame those people. I haven't been in a gym for months now.
Do I prefer to run on a treadmill or on the Bay Trail? Guess.
I swing my kettlebells inside only if it's raining. Otherwise, I bring them outside to a park and work out there. Carrying them there is a bonus workout. Why would I go to a gym to do my Farmer's Walk (exercise where you carry two heavy weights in each hand) there when I can do it on my way to the park?
Last weekend, I had a chance to do some yoga right by the Pacific Ocean.
But why we then don't spend more time outside if it makes us happier?
Why do we lock ourselves inside even when the workday is over?
Because we are tired, exhausted and the last thing we want to think of is moving out butts and going out.
It's too much work.
It's too late.
I'll do it tomorrow.
I better stay in and watch TV.
Sure, there are times when we need to stay in, but not nearly as often as we do. I have never regretted when I have chosen to go outside instead of staying in. It doesn't necessarily need to be a workout; a walk is great too. It charges my batteries, gives me energy and I return home feeling so much better.
If you want to make your day happier, go outside. Go for a walk. Smell flowers. Touch trees. Take your shoes off, run, jump, throw some rocks, do a squat or two, try hanging on the monkey bar when you pass a playground. Never feel embarrassed.
Your happy place that I asked you about in the beginning may be a thousand miles away and you may not be able to go there now, but you can still go outside right here where you are now. If you do, you will feel better after – I promise.