Gretchen Rubin

Need a Quick, Easy Happiness Boost? Go Outside.

This proposed happiness resolution is easy. 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.

Now, I’m the kind of person who loves to sit around the house in my pajamas. If I can manage it, I enjoy the occasional day when I never step foot out of my apartment. But even though I love staying in, there’s nevertheless something slightly oppressive about being inside all day.

And going from your front door, to the car door, to the office door, and then in reverse, isn’t much better.

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.
Plus, if you use your time outside to go for a walk, you’ll get a double benefit for mood and energy. Because I live in New York City, I get a lot of opportunities to walk around outside, and I know it boosts my spirits.

If possible, push the directive to “Go outside” a little further, and try to build some more outdoor time into your life. Go hiking, go birdwatching, get a dog, walk to work.

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

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

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in -- no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

* I was part of a very interesting discussion for Frank Faulk's CBC radio documentary, Say No to Happiness, with my pal Todd Kashdan, Daniel Polish, and Jordan Peterson.

* Want to launch a group for people doing Happiness Projects together? Email me at gretchenrubin1 at gmail dot com for the starter kit. Want to see if a group already exists in your area? Look here. Want to talk to people about starting a new group? Start a discussion here. I'm thrilled by all the interest in starting Happiness Project groups! Keep me posted!

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