We often find ourselves occupying our time indoors. At home, at the office, at the gym, etc. While more and more our time outdoors is minimized as much as possible. How does this affect us?
Humans are active, social creatures who get off on stimuli in excess. Talking to people, using our phones, watching TV, eating food, or whatever it may be. Our minds however, are able to tell the difference between virtual social interaction, and social interaction in person. We shouldn't have to tell you which one is more satisfying to the mind, but in person real social interactions are what drives us as humans. Over the phone, a disconnect is present. Without sensible stimuli, beyond visual and auditory, something is lacking.
Our condition of being technologically advanced shut-ins, is dismantling our response to social stimuli and how we react to it. After a period of time, visual interaction becomes the main way we receive our social connection, allowing our brain to reprogram. Rather than seek out the physical and real interactions that would be typical if not for our over use of social media and phones, we seek out social connection through the technology that we have at our fingertips.
What comes along with this new habit, is an impeding of social skills. When we finally get to that in person interaction your brain may have forgotten social cues, how to interpret body langue beyond the facial, and maybe even how to converse. Now we know this sounds like an exaggeration, but in reality it is the small things that add up. Not being able to hint on social cues could mean not getting the job, or missing a deeper connection. The inability to decipher body language could lead to a misinterpretation of something someone said, now you could back track out of your position, but without the use of social cues it would be. The amalgam of all of these issues leads to the inability to act in a conversation fluidly. Not that you can't have a conversation, but that you are unable to use the full potential of any conversation.
So what is the issue really? We are spending too much time inside, with people we know, in an environment that we are familiar with, and all just to be comfortable. What does this lead to? Seeking comfort from the things we know are familiar and mistaking that for happiness is extremely detrimental. Outside, or more specifically the outdoors, is what has kept us content and happy for our entire existence. Why? Because of the uncomfortable and the unknown. New and foreign experiences are what keep us moving and ready for change. Change is our friend, yet we have been taught to think of it as the enemy. Outside, there are numerous interactions and events that we have a potential to be a part of. Spending the time that we have, inside, is robbing us of the opportunity and advantage that can come with the endless possibilities the world has to offer. Sure an argument can be made that now with the technology and social media platforms we have access to, we are able to contact and form a relationship with people that we would never have come in contact with in person. All of that is true, but what is also true is the fact that the more time you spend inside using those platforms, the less time you have to interact with the world around you.
Being outside is used as a therapy for those who are depressed, anxious, addicted to their phones, addicted to drugs, and just about any other form of ailment that exists. Nature is good for mind, body, and soul, but why?
Most people enjoy control. Or at least the illusion of control. This is what our virtual social lives gives us. A false sense of control. We can talk to who we want to, when we want to, and keep out the people we don't like. It's like being the captain of that club in school that everyone thought was cool, except just like in school, it really isn't. You don't really have control. What nature can teach us, better than any other therapist, or professor, is that we truly are not in control. The take away from that optimally being: Without control over the world I live in, I only have control over the thing that I live it with, my body. Now control over the physical may not translate to control over your life, or the actions you take in it, but when in practice it become increasingly clear that what we are able to control is experience.
Now take the idea that being indoors is comfortable, and that comfort is happiness. What is wrong with this picture? Comfort is a liar. It promises immediate satisfaction, but in the long run? In the long run only comes disappointment. The reality is that success and happiness (not that the two are inseparable) do not come from comfort, but exactly the opposite.
Imagine going camping for the weekend. What is enticing about this endeavor? Lack of sleep, eating camping food, or carrying your heavy gear to the campsite? What is the take away? For most it is the chance to sleep out in the environment that we used to call home. Seeing what that is like then returning home to enjoy the modern comforts that we now have in droves is part of the experience. Overtime we have grown used to what was once novel and rare. The outdoors can give us the mindset that we had in the past, that to enjoy the comforts that we have access to we have to experience the uncomfortable. In addition to this is the pleasure that comes from being a part of the earth, seeing the beauty in the natural and imperfect, and coming to terms with the conditions of living. Work to live, die to rest. This is a very basic boiled down way to look at life, but this is the way it is.
Knowing those realities can light the fire within us that could push us to accomplish what we never thought was possible. It can push us to create the connections we were always afraid to, or pursue the work that had always intimidated us. This fire that lays dormant within us, has the potential to do almost anything. The key is to find what has the power to unlock our potential. In more cases than not, this can come from the world around us. The nature, no matter how small, that we have access to. Whether it be the mountains or the oceans, we all have access to a small sliver of the nature that surrounds us all. Allowing ourselves to surrender to it, to open our minds, to accept that we are not always in control, is one of the biggest favors we can do for ourselves.
Push your limits and seek the uncomfortable, because when we have the time for comfort, it will be that much more enjoyable. Get outside, and out of the familiar. Keep moving.