A Little Happier: Remember to Go Outside.

This is a very helpful Secret of Adulthood: Remember to go outside.

Go outside into the sunlight; light deprivation is one reason that people feel tired. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood and increase motivation.

For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning.

Also, at least for me, unscientifically speaking, spending time outside gives a feeling of freedom, of connecting with the seasons (even when the weather isn’t ideal), of breathing fresh air, of not being so trapped by a schedule that I can’t be out in the world.

People in industrialized countries spent about 93% of their time inside; don’t forget how energizing and cheering it can be to go outdoors.

We love our puppy Barnaby for many reasons, and he definitely does encourage every member of my family to go outside more often.

What about you? Do you love to go outside, or do you have to prod yourself to make sure you do it?


I hope you’re enjoying the new mini-episodes. I love doing them.

Thanks, as always, to my terrific sponsor: Audible. Audible has more than 180,000 audio-books and spoken-word audio products. Get a free 30-day trial at Audible.com/happier.  Your first book is free! You can choose from a huge selection — including my books, Better Than Before or The Happiness Project. I’m the reader for both of them.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:


Happier listening!

  • stefany

    I could not agree more with you on this one Gretchen, Going into nature and enjoying every aspect of nature really cheers me up, that’s why every morning i walk a little to get a fresh start and every evening to get my mind body and soul ready for a great sleep.

  • Mimi Gregor

    I am fortunate to live in an area with much parkland. Every once in a while, when the weather is fine, I like to tie on my hiking boots and go for a nature walk. Even just an hour or so is enough to make me feel like a new, improved version of myself: relaxed yet energized. I have also noticed how periods of grey skies and rain can depress me and make me feel lethargic. Yes, I am all too aware of how much the weather and the sunlight affect me! I wish that my moods were not dependent upon external conditions, but there you go.

  • Ani Tuzman

    Hello Gretchen,

    I am new to your site and so glad to have landed here! I just read your post on going outside and listened to your tribute to Barnaby and the sun. Receiving your little blast of encouragement felt like taking a vitamin—a good vitamin, like D only even more uplifting!

    I am always surprised by my needing to push myself to get up from my desk and ready myself for my (almost) daily walk, since once I am under the sky, I know that is just the place for me to be. Not only do I get recharged—I also often get some of my best ideas (I’m a writer), which I now capture on a favorite phone app. Something about the movement of my body frees the creative flow in my mind as well.

    So, thank you for the reminder and the invitation. Wishing you and your family many happy walks!


    • gretchenrubin


  • Carla

    I totally agree with this one. I feel this pain especially in the winter, when I work in an office all day and get home from work in the dark. I rarely leave the office for lunch, but I remember very distinctly a day that I did. It felt like I had been released from jail. It was as though I forgot the outside world even existed; it was such a dramatic moment of perspective.

  • Totally agree! With the busy schedules nowadays, a lot of people might forget the importance of this simple thing. However, it has really a great impact on your day’s productivity. I like your site. Lots of tips about life and work as well. Great post anyway.