Secrets of Adulthood: Remember to Go Outside.

From Further Secrets of Adulthood: Remember to go outside.

I remind myself of this often! My favorite activities are reading and writing, both of which are mostly done indoors.

I remind myself to enjoy the outdoors. It’s both energizing and calming to be outside.

Agree, disagree?

  • Mike Sporer

    Nature is our true connection to the Universe, Gretchen. Great advice!!

  • Anna

    I often have to remind myself if this. My 2 1/2 year old helps me remember. Today he asked me to sit outside with him on the patio and watch the world go by!

  • Agree! I collect 2-word phrases and this one is in my top five. I’m also a reader/writer, so I need the reminder to GO OUTSIDE often.

  • I’m the same, I could spend days in doors. I feel like losing time by going out. Although, when writing, some good inspiration might come from outside! Therefore, I allow myself to go out at least once a week for something else than errands or needs of course. I had a teacher in college who said that people were losing the habit of strolling around. It’s important to go out just to enjoy being out!

  • Anita Zawadzki

    Completely agree!
    I often find myself realizing I haven’t been outside for more than a few minutes for days, even weeks. I find talking books let me fulfill my #1 passion while also getting fresh air and natural light.
    Planning a daily “recess” during the work day might work!

  • RoecocoUK

    Thank you for reminding me about this Gretchen and, yes, I agree. It’s one of my intended habits but I just don’t seem to be successful at making it happen. A while back I tried to tie the habit of walking with listening to podcasts – in other words I wasn’t “allowed” to listen to them UNLESS I was outside walking. The questioner/rebel in me just hated that after a few days & I must have subconsciously invoked several loophole strategies to get out of it because lately I have adopted a habit of listening to my podcasts first thing in the morning and last thing at night in bed! And no walking or being outdoors has been done! Demerit for me!

  • Dianne Ochiltree

    A walk in the woods, or by the ocean, or just in the neighborhood is one of my go-to remedies for times when I need peace and calm…which is every day. A daily dose of ‘vitamin N’ (connecting with nature) keeps my mind and body in healthy balance.

  • Isin

    If I didn’t spend at least 4 to 5 hours outdoors then it is a terrible day for me.
    If I was a writer I would surely do most of my reading and writing in parks or cafes.
    I believe being too much indoors is a negative side of “modern, American” way of life. Europe and Mediterrenean seem to be completely different.

  • Penelope Schmitt

    I’ve been ‘forgetting’ my need for this. I have been going through the ‘I’m too busy’ loophole, and it is NOT a good thing. So my next move will be to go outdoors and spend at least 30 minutes in my yard, which would be very happy for my attention.

    Another comment that I MUST make: I like to be outdoors, but NOT with earphones on my head or earbuds plugged into my ears. Aside from the safety concerns (how will you hear a bike or car approaching?) How in the world can nature speak to you if you are multitasking and distracted from your surroundings? You may be getting exercise, but you are not truly PRESENT with your outdoor experience if you are listening to a podcast — even Happier!! Try hearing the sounds of where-you-are, even if it is city traffic, rather than the sounds of somewhere-else!

    • Penelope Schmitt

      A half hour later — I sat on a little step stool and weeded my very messy by-the-driveway border. I listened to the wind in the trees, the birds, the occasional car passing, an ambulance on a nearby main street. And I feel so HAPPY I went outside!

    • Gillian

      I completely agree! I’ve sometimes been tempted to acquire some sort of device for listening while walking or in the garden but have decided against it for the reasons to describe.

      I listen to the radio or podcasts while in the kitchen – cooking or doing dishes. It makes those chores much more pleasurable and doesn’t detract from activities that are in themselves pleasurable.

  • Molly

    Young children are good for reigniting this habit! When my son was 2 or 3, he wanted to be outside all the time, and frankly, parks, the back yard, the beach, etc. were my refuge…he could run, climb, and jump, and I could take a break from monitoring fragile objects! Now that he is 7, it is so ingrained in me, and we’ve taken it up a couple notches. Now we go on nature trails, go kayaking at the state park, we’ve toured caves, visit the metroparks in our area, take horse drawn wagon rides through the woods in the fall, visit pumpkin patches, pick apples and cherries, etc. I am a city girl/hotel seeker, but I hope I don’t give up this habit when my son grows up. I find nature to be a great source of peace for me, and it is where I am mostly likely to experience something (for lack of a better word) divine or transcendent.

    Gretchen — I finally got to buy your book and I am loving every moment of it! I am trying to read slowly so I can take notes and digest it all. (Plus it’s such a fun read I don’t want it to end.) I am on the strategy of the clean slate. I think the above was a clean slate moment for me. (As a side note, my mom had a similar experience to your dad. She couldn’t quit smoking, but got a stomach bug one time after smoking quite a bit the previous day. She said she was temporarily turned off by cigarettes and capitalized on it to quit. That was 25 years ago!)

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much – I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying the book!

  • Marcene

    I completely agree! My husband knows what a huge fan I am of yours and you and I are very similar in our Tendencies and habits. We are presently camping and as we sat out at the campfire last night, he asked what you say about campfires. I told him I didn’t remember reading anything about campfires. 🙂 Today I read this post and consider it close enough. Love your work!!!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Candace

    Agree fo-sho! I forget to go outside all the time. I look out the windows and think wow how beautiful a day it is. I love being outside too. I’m in Texas so summer time during the day is not very pleasant for the most part, unless it is early in the day. But, I think we all should make a point to get out side for a little while every day. It is nice to connect with the world around us, there is some sort of primal ease that comes from feeling the sun, the breeze, hearing and watching the birds and squirrels etc.

  • Laura

    I’ve never been an especially “outdoorsy” person, but I had a similar epiphany when I realized that probably 80% of my favorite memories, childhood or recent, took place outside. Since then I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to get outside more!

  • Mimi Gregor

    When I feel despondent, going outside — even for just a half-hour or so — to do a little weeding or pruning makes me feel more relaxed, exercised, and — dare I say it — happier. A walk through the woods achieves the same thing, but requires a little extra time.

  • Jen Johnson

    I agree completely. Going outside is the best way to recharge. Even if I’m just weeding, I am active (which gives me energy) and able to think contemplative thoughts at the same time. I also agree it’s easy for me to forget how beneficial it is to just go outside. But it’s the best way to break out of a funk.

  • Constance

    As they say: Let Mother Nature nurture. It really helps!

  • Absolutely do! I even think adults (aka everybody) should experience nature more than staying in the house (or office)!

  • Phyllis Porter Rauch

    After the business of the day (and busyness) I love to take the dogs for a long walk around the garden. I find surprises, get new ideas, enjoy the smells, a treat for all the senses. This is relatively new for me, by the way, and thanks to you. I used to be strong enough to work entire days, planting, weeding etc. When I couldn’t do the physical work as much I stayed more indoors. Love my evening walks.

  • Julie Johnson-Berg

    I just went golfing today outside! It is the best stress relief there is !

  • About Creativity

    Very much go outside to have a look at the world. I remind myself to enjoy the outdoors. It’s both energizing and calming to be outside. – I agree with your writing. Thank you.

  • Sheri Cassity

    I was very inspired to spend more time outdoors after reading Richard Louv’s “The Nature Principle.” He coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder.”

  • Sheri Cassity

    I was inspired to spend more time outside after reading Richard Louv’s The Nature Priciple. He coined the term “nature deficit disorder.”

  • Susan Mary Malone

    Oh, absolutely! And a new study came out this week about how spending time outdoors fosters physical health. Add that to the mental, emotional, and spiritual and, well, time for a walk outdoors!

  • Judy Leahy

    Being outside in the sunlight is a great stress reliever. Time can pass quickly when I am involved with gardening. The only downside to working in the garden is when it becomes too warm.

  • Michael

    In the winter, I build up half an igloo (the bottom half) around our fire pit. We then have fires and huddle around just like we do in the summer. Growing up with nine brothers and sisters helped establish this habit to get outside!

  • Gail Schmeling

    I like to read outdoors. That way you get the best of both worlds. Immerse yourself in the language, then take time to look around at the beauty and ponder how the words fit into the world around you. In fact, when I was in college, I used to take my books and study at the bank of the river.

  • My secret adult hood is adventure and fulfilling and coaching myself and others, my success in that will be my optimum best!

  • Definitely agree, when I first realized I was struggling with depression, spending time outside became one of my go to “feel better” moves. Reading outside is great too, but doesn’t work to well if you’re reading from a Kindle or similar device.

    • mom2luke

      yes, it’s uplifing just being out in nature, but there’s a biological reason too… the vitamin D

  • Agree! I have a treadmill in my basement, and I often resort to walking on it even when it is nice weather outside. Why?! I need to break this habit. I definitely feel a bigger boost in my mood when I walk outside.

    • mom2luke

      I know why…it’s because you can READ (another source of happiness) while you walk on a treadmill, but not so easily walking outside (although I’ve done it). “Be gentle on yourself” but get outside, it works ! 🙂 Even a ten minute walk outside helps and once you start you usually decide, ok, what’s another 10. I used to do that when I was a new mother, working full time with zero minutes to myself, I’d walk on my lunch break at work. It was better than nothing and really gave me a boost.

  • DebC

    I agree – absolutely! During my lunch hour, I sometimes go to one of several local parks. Depending on my mood, I either sit by the water or under a canopy of trees. I always come back feeling calmer and refreshed.

  • christine gauthier

    Outside it’s to be unlinked with the routine of home or work..a form of meditation, a fresh energy to be able to come back with ideas and actions and I’m lucky i can do it when I want, it’s a wonderful freedom!