I often think about if George Washington were to come back, what would be his thoughts?
I imagine he would come back and say something like this, “Where is everyone? All I see are buildings!?”
You might think that sounds absurd. There are 7 billion people in the world today as opposed to only 1 billion in Washington’s day. What would make him say that?
Perhaps this isn’t a perfect comparison, but the point I am trying to make is this.
These days, far too many people ensconce themselves inside their cozy little homes all day instead of getting out and spending time in nature.
It’s sad really. I strongly accredit this to the rise of depression over the last few decades. Secluding yourself indoors with only virtual access to other people can (and has) contributed to multiple mental disorders in young and old people alike.
So how do we fix this.
Well, I think it’s quite a bit easier than it seems. It’s all about “positive distractions“.
How and why this works
Consider a situation where you go through something hard. Perhaps a rude comment someone made or maybe a breakup. Subsequently, you often go into a state of rumination in these situations. Rumination is simply deep and consistent thought about something.
That rumination leads you to thought paths and to conclusions that you should not go. “Maybe we shouldn’t have broken up” or, “I should go beg for my job back”. Deep thought is not erroneous unless it leads us to silly actions.
A study has shown that rumination occurs in the same region of the brain that generates negative emotions. This brain region is called the subgenual prefrontal cortex. Depression can begin to develop in the brain if rumination continues for too long.
So what can stop it according to this study?
A nice walk through the meadow!(or any other uncultivated part of nature)
The study demonstrated how a short walk through a rural area(not urban) can reduce activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, thus calming the brain down and preventing the on-set of depression.
Find the study here.
Find your fun
You might be thinking, this is easy for someone who lives out in the middle of nowhere! But what about for someone who lives in the city?
Essentially all that is required for this is getting away from all of the negative distractions in a city. The easiest and most effective way to do this, of course, is to leave the city.
So, taking a weekend to travel out into the countryside is just what you need. You can go camping, fishing, hiking, or anything that will help you forget about civilization for a while.
For me, I have come to love camping after going on a few short trips over the course of a couple years. Because I live in one of the largest cities in the world, it was tough in the beginning to organize and plan these weekend endeavors, but after a while, it became easier and even a spur of the moment kind of thing. I might’ve had a tough week at work/school and knew that I needed some time away, so I’d pack a few meals, a tent, a sleeping bag, and head out to one of my favorite spots.
These trips always give me an overwhelming sense of refreshment and energy when I need them most. I can always feel the mental burden being lifted while I relax, even if it’s only for a few hours.
I think we as humans were meant to spend the majority of our time in the world that has been created for us. When we build up our homes to the point where we rarely need to venture outside of them, our dependency on nature takes a substantial hit. Although, not without side effects as we can see from the 60 percent increase in suicide rates in the past 50 years — according to the NY Times.
The countries with the largest increases?
Places where people are beginning to learn what life is like in a comfortable home — a place where you can seclude yourself from absolutely everything for as long as you want.
Ok, maybe not as long as you want. We have jobs and other things to do outside of the home but you understand what I am asserting here.
Final point: Get outside every now and again.
Outside everything. Your house. Your car. Your city. Your life.
Enjoy the world that has been made for you and you will reap the benefits.
What are your thoughts about this?