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it's a beautiful world: 5 ways to go outside and enjoy it

“There are few joys
 that rival being outside on a beautiful day
 in the company of a good book.”


 Oprah



Today I'm inside. At work. It's a beautiful spring day -- one of the most perfect yet! -- and I'm looking longingly out my window at the lovely patch of green grass lying on the other side of the glass. There is a stout tree positioned directly in front of my window and if I close my eyes I can imagine myself out there, leaning up against it, my nose bury deep in a great book. If I really delve into the depths of my imagination, I can almost feel those little bits of green grass brushing up against my legs and I can almost feel the slight breeze on my skin, the very same breeze I can see gently pushing through the air right now. 

[Sigh.]

As you've probably experienced this at some point in your life -- being trapped inside on a beautiful spring day -- you know first hand that it's hard to be indoors when you want to be outdoors. I'm not even a very outdoorsy type girl (in fact, I'm pretty much the opposite -- squealing ridiculously when I spot a bee or jumping up and running inside at the first sign of gnats or mosquitoes), but there are days like today when I simply long to be outside. There are simply days when it doesn't make any sense to stay indoors. 

As I'm writing this, I noticed a squirrel hop by the window in that cute little squirrelly way they have and I'm envious of its sprightly little life, jumping through the grass in search of the acorns I watched it bury last fall. (As impatient as I feel trapped behind the glass an unable to go outdoors, I have to admit that it's a thrill to see the squirrels come back and gather the nuts I watched them bury just months ago.) Yes, in this moment, I am jealous of he life of that squirrel. Oh, and now there's a bird, pecking happily in the grass! How freeing it must be to be that bird, not at work, not sitting at a desk with tasks to complete and work to get done! And, wow, an amazingly indigo-and-cerulean blue-jay is stopping by this patch of grass as well. It's turning its head this way and that, looking befuddled as it hops around on its two little bird feet. On the road sidling up next to this perfect patch of grass, a car just drove by and both the blue-jay and its feathered friend flew away. How I wish I could fly away too... 

I would fly out of this desk and into a beautiful, spacious (bug-free) park where I would sit with a stack of books by my side and spend the day lost in stories. If I could fly from here, from the desk and the obligations, I would find myself somewhere beautiful, somewhere with enough space that my mind could wander for hours without ever having to worry about returning at a specific time. To be outside on a beautiful day is one of the greatest experiences. It's one of the reasons for being alive and one of the most wonderful times to be truly present in your life. 

When faced with a beautiful day during which you must remain indoors, it can be tempting to complain and dwell on the negative. It's so easy for me to sit here, sighing and wishing I were elsewhere. But you know what? That's not a very positive attitude now, is it? Instead of sitting here wishing and hoping I could miraculously have the day off from work ("What's that you say, boss? It's so beautiful outside that I should just go home and enjoy the day?"... a girl can dream...), I'm going to think about all of the wonderful things I can do the next time I'm given a chance to enjoy beautiful weather from somewhere other than the so-close-I-can-almost-touch-it position I find myself in when sitting at my desk. 



How to Enjoy the Outdoors (When You Have the Chance!)
 

  • Spend time outside. Okay, I know it sounds ridiculously obvious, but there are way too many days in my life when it's beautiful outside and I find myself indoors, in front of the computer or snuggled on the couch with a book. It's important to do what you love (which, for me, is writing and reading), but it's also important to take a break from those things and get outside. Sometimes when the nice weather starts creeping in, I start to take it for granted and forget to get outside. Today I'm reminding myself that the next time I get the chance, I'm going to enjoy the nice weather. 
  • Open the windows. Sometimes getting outside is just not an option. Either you have to work or you have obligations that just cannot be avoided. This can be a big downer on a beautiful day, but remember this: there's usually a window. If you're in the presence of a beautiful day but cannot go outside to enjoy it, open the nearest window. It's a small act, but it can make a huge difference. (Unfortunately for me I cannot open my window at work, but I most certainly would if I could!) If you have the opportunity to open a window, do so. It won't substitute for being outside, but it's a close second. 

  • Take photos outdoors. If you're one of the lucky ones who doesn't have to hang his or her head out the window to enjoy the nice weather, make sure you capture the moment with your camera. I find that looking at pictures of a beautiful, sunshine-y day can really lift my mood when the weather turns sour or the seasons change back into the bitter cold of winter. When you have the chance to enjoy the beautiful spring weather, it's a great idea to capture the memory of it so you can use it later when a beautiful day or an open window isn't available. 

  • Look, listen, and smell. One of the hardest things about being indoors and looking at the gorgeous day outside is not being able to fully participate in it. Sure, I can look out the window and see some of nature's creatures hopping around; I can see the green grass and the sunlight hitting it at just the right angle. But, as I'm sure you know, there's something limited about a window view. You can only see so far in either direction and your view is framed by the dimensions of the paned glass. So when you get a chance to go outside, really take it all in. Listen to what's going on. Look around you. Smell the things you wouldn't be able to if you were trapped in doors. Basically, enjoy every moment out there. 

  • Do something different. I always tell myself that on the next beautiful day I'm going to do something really great outside. I tell myself I'm going to go somewhere in the city I've never been before. I tell myself I'm going to take rolls and rolls of film. Do I do these things? Nope. I usually get caught up in something else or have some sort of commitment that I have to stick to and my dreams of making the most of the great outdoors are dashed. Don't let this happen to you! Next time you're faced with a beautiful, obligation-free day, do something different. Go outside and explore and really stay in the moment. You'll enjoy the day so much more if you do. 



Once the weather warms up continuously and spring starts fading into summer, it can be easy to forget how it felt on those first spring days when the warmth and the sun felt new again, like a present you'd just unwrapped and couldn't wait to play with. As the season goes on and the warmer days become the norm, don't forget to enjoy them. There are many nice days every year, but the nicest are those that you make the most of. 

Comments

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pretty amazing tips. Enjoying outside has been something i have never stopped doing ever since i was young. I usually sleep with my window open a little and that helps alot. Also i go skateboarding as much as i can. Just doing those two helps relieve alot of stress and allow me to enjoy life even more.

Josten - Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the tips. It's great to hear that you make the most of nice days and stay true to your childhood self by spending a lot of time outdoors. Spending even a little bit of time outdoors really does act as a stress reliever, doesn't it?

Smell is one of my favorite ways. Whether it's the smell of the ocean and boardwalk, or the smell of the forest, it's all good.

J.D. - I agree with you on that one. The smells of the great outdoors are one of the greatest things about being outside. I especially like the smell of the ocean!

Hi Dani, these are amazing tips! Thank you for sharing these. I think that we sometimes forget to enjoy the simple things in life which can give us so much joy and satisfaction. We become too heavily dependent on technology that we become oblivious to the beauty of nature. I think one can simply enjoy outdoors by looking at the sunrise or sunset. Nature is so breathtaking; one should just learn how to appreciate the simplicity of it.

Linda - Thank you! I'm so glad you liked them! It's true that we often forget to enjoy the simple things in life, like going outside on a nice day. I'm hoping that this post will inspire others (and me!) to enjoy nature when we can.

Hi Dani,

I've really enjoyed the warmer weather lately. There is something about spring that is just so special. I've taken your advice and have enjoyed the outdoors by running outside (instead of at the gym) a lot over the past couple of weeks. And it's been wonderful!

I loved this -- at least partially because where I live today is a gorgeous, gorgeous day. I'm working now, but sure plan to head outdoors for a walk later on. Beginning this past Sunday, I started grabbing my phone (which I have with me a lot anyway) and taking a photo a day, which I then post on my Facebook page. Nothing great -- today's photo was of the newspapers at the end of our driveway. I'm going to post that see! newspapers are NOT dead (we get four, believe it or not). It is forcing me to look at the outdoors and my view of it in a new light and I'm really enjoying it. I am, for a host of reasons seeing things in a different light, taking responsibility for my own feelings and not expecting people to change (which is a big one for me). Been doing lots of reading, including Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle, and Gina Lake, too, who wrote "Loving in the Moment." It's really helped me not get so triggered by others, but to take responsibility for my feelings, plus to be more accepting of everyone in my life. New mantra -- it's just their ego. So I don't take what they say so personally. Big change! (See http://www.radicalhappiness.com for more.)

Greg - Me too! Spring is awesome. I'd love to be enjoying every nice day outdoors, but I have to work so that's not an option. However, it does encourage me to make the most of the nice days when I'm not at work!

Liz - Thank you so much for your great comment. I really love the idea of taking a picture every day. It's a great way to be really focused on living in the moment and paying attention to what's happening around you. I also agree that reading is a great way to make the most of the present moment -- and it's even better if you can do it while outdoors. I'm looking forward to checking out Radical Happiness. Thanks for the link!

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