You Know It’s Been A Good Summer When Your Feet Are Tan

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down.  Here in Minnesota the Minnesota State Fair starts soon and wraps up on Labor Day.  Nothing in Minnesota signals the end of summer than our State Fair.

Take a look at your feet and notice what shade of color they are.  Do they look like they’ve been exposed to the sun?  Are they a darker shade than normal?

You know it’s been a good summer when your feet are tan because that is a  sign you’ve been outside.  Not only that, you’ve been barefoot and your feet have been connecting with the earth, the sand, and water.

Is that so important?  If you think about our evolutionary history, we have spent more time as a species outside than in.  We have spent more time barefoot, connecting with nature, than we have been with shoes on.  We have been exposed to fresh air, sunshine, and solid earth below us.  We are wired to be outside. But most of the time we are relegated to being inside most, if not all day.

This summer I’ve made every attempt to be outside. That’s easy on weekends and on vacations, but I’ve given my best effort during the work week too. Over lunch, I’ve walked outside in the park behind my office complex and I’ve taken most of my conference calls outside as I walk.

I’ve found that I get more out of my conference calls when I’m walking. When I am at my desk, it’s too easy to check my email, surf the web, or look at updates on LinkedIn. (You know you do this too) But when I’m walking while on the calls, I’m more focused and find it easier to pay attention. I think it’s because I’m outside and I’m moving.

This summer my feet have been exposed to the sun, earth, and water through spending time sailing at the family cabin, walking barefoot at the park, and swimming in both lakes and pools. My feet have a healthy glow (even though my arms still have that farmer’s tan).

As Summer winds down I want to encourage you to get outside every moment you can. Walk in the mornings, at lunch, or after dinner.  As the days get shorter, take a flashlight if you need it. Go to your local park or trail system. Walk, hike, or run.  Regardless of your ability, get outside.

I’m a stickler for being outside because it’s so good for our mental and physical health. My goal is to get outside regardless of the season and temperature.  For those of you that live in cold country like I do, you’ll understand the challenge with that.  But I find even when it’s cold, its great to be outside as I shovel snow, cross country ski, and take winter walks.  It’s all good (but I do prefer warm weather).

My feet will start to lose their tan as the days start to grow colder here in MN. That’s OK and I’ll look  forward to being outside in beautiful  MN fall weather.

 

(What questions or topics would you like me to write about?  Send your ideas to dennis.robert.bird@gmail.com)

What If The Golden Years Are Right Now? (And You’re Missing Them)

Credit: DeduloPhotos

Credit: DeduloPhotos

 

How many times have you had the thought,

“When I get to ______ life will really be great!”

That is what I call the Golden Years.  A time in life where we look forward to our future becoming better than what it is today.  Life will really be great:

When I retire.

When the kids go off to college.

When I get that promotion.

When I buy that house.

When I take that trip.

When I lose weight.

When I meet Mr./Mrs Right

Having goals for our future isn’t wrong. I have goals for my future, but what if we are missing out on what’s available to us in the present because we are so focused on the future? Worse yet, what if we actually get to the future and we don’t find it as great as we thought it was.

I’m bored in retirement.

I miss the kids.

I’m stressed in my new job.

The house is so big I can’t find anyone.

It rained the whole time during my trip.

I lost weight, but gained it back.

My relationship ended.

The future could be as great as we think it will be, but we can’t know that today because it has happened yet. If fact, there is no guarantee we will get to our future. Life can get cut short through illness and accidents,  jobs can end through layoffs, and houses burn down.

What I’ve been realizing though, it that the Golden Years are right now where ever I am and where ever I go.

The reason I’m not experiencing the Golden Years is that I’m not fully living in awareness of what I’m experiencing today. I’m too preoccupied with the future, too stressed about what hasn’t happened yet, and too anxious about my goals and if they will happen.

Here’s an example:  I’ve had this idea that my blog and podcast will really be making an impact in people’s lives when I hit 100,000 readers each month.  Right now I have about 22oo, and if I focus on how far I am from my goal I get discouraged and feel like I’m wasting my time.

But what if the Golden Years of my blog and podcast are right now?  If I practice the skill of living a life of awareness I realize that writing and speaking my ideas is helping me become the person I want to be. I appreciate the people who are showing up each month to read and listen.  I’m meeting people I never would have met if I had not started a podcast. I’m grateful for the experience.

Living a life of awareness means that we are paying attention to the present moment.

What am I feeling right now?

What am I thinking?

What is grabbing my attention?

What do I notice?

What do I see?

What do I hear?

What am I sensing?

Living in the present is challenging because our internal thinking, the demands we place on ourselves and demands from other people can rip us out of the now and into the anxiety of the future.  Living in the present brings a deeper and fuller experience.

When I am living a life of awareness and living in the present:

I appreciate and love my wife more.

I see how extraordinary my kids are.

I experience the beauty of my surroundings.

I am more open and flexible.

I’m less frustrated when things don’t work out.

I find more meaning in my work.

I’m more content with what I have and what I don’t

Don’t waste time, relationships, and experience waiting for the future. Practice living life with awareness and being present in the moment and see how the Golden Years are right now.

 

Here are some resources that I’ve found helpful as I’m learning how to practice living in awareness.

Slow Down to the Speed of Life, by Richard Carlson and Joe Bailey. This is a great read about how to get your mind out of the past and out of the future so you can live with more peace and contentment in a busy world.

Interview with Joe Bailey Co-Author of Slow Down to the Speed of Life on the 5Percenters Podcast. Click here. Joe and I talk about the concepts in his book and apply them to living an excellent life.

Zen Parenting Podcast with Cathy Cassini Adams and Todd Adams. If you have kids this is an excellent podcast about living the life you want your kids to learn. Their tag line is, “The best predictor of your child’s well being is a parent’s self-understanding”. Even if you don’t have kids, this is an excellent podcast about living a life of awareness.

 

Would You Please Stand Up and Get Outside

credit: RHaynes

credit: RHaynes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It shouldn’t be an earth shattering concept, but being outside is good for us.

It’s more than a nice experience to be in a beautiful environment, it’s good for your health. In the article, “Spending Time Outdoors is Good For You”, from the Harvard Health Letter,  researchers have found the following benefits to being outside:

  • Your vitamin D levels rise
  • You’ll get more exercise
  • You’ll be happier
  • Your concentration will improve
  • You may heal faster

In other research conducted by David Strayer, professor of cognition and neural science at the University of Utah, he found that being outdoors increases brain creativity and problem solving skills. In an experiment he conducted, he took a group of students on a 4 day trek in the wilderness and then tested them on cognitive tests.  The students returning from their wilderness experience scored 50% higher than their peers who stayed home.

If we look at the course of human evolution, it’s fairly evident that we have spent more time outside and being confined to houses, office buildings, and our cars are a modern development.  Our last 150 years is a blip on the human timeline.  Being outside is not a nice thing to do, I think it’s how we are hardwired from our earliest days as humans.

I know that when I get outside I’m happier, more creative, and find that it enhances my relationships. Part of my lifestyle is to go outside as much as possible, regardless of the time of year and weather.  Living in the upper midwest doesn’t always make that easy, but I think it’s a good idea to apply the Boy Scout rule for bad weather:

Plan B, is Plan A with rain

I have to give credit to the Scouts, they don’t let bad weather hold them back from being outdoors.

My encouragement to you is to incorporate more time outdoors as part of your overall health strategy.  Stand up and Get Outside.