A great irony of our world
today is that while we can virtually connect with almost anyone, anywhere with
the click of a mouse, the sad reality for many of us is that the frequency and
quality of our face-to-face interactions has diminished.
Armed with smartphones, it can
be difficult to escape the instant satisfaction of a new like on Facebook, a
response to your clever Tweet or an incoming text message from a friend or
client. As a result, we often find ourselves pulled in multiple directions
while speaking with friends, family members and work colleagues. We are
physically present but often not emotionally present and therein lies an important challenge.
Without a conscious effort to
effectively manage (and perhaps limit) these intrusions, this pattern continues
and becomes the new norm and we can begin to lose our ability to be fully
present with ourselves and with those around us. We can also see the negative
impact in our reduced ability to engage with activities which require our
sustained focus be that grappling with a new concept, reading for work or
for pleasure or doing the thinking necessary to stay relevant in a world where
we are being outsourced or offshored at an alarming rate.
Living in London as I do, it
is easy to forget that you are surrounded by 100s of miles of sparsely
populated countryside where you can walk for hours without seeing a single
soul, especially now as the days get shorter.
Earlier this year, I joined a
number of local walking and hiking groups. And in recent months, I have spent
long days in the Great Outdoors from the remoteness and beauty of the Brecon
Beacons to the cliffs and salt marshes of the Norfolk coast, hiking with a
group of like-minded wanderers through wild and beautiful landscapes. As I've
rediscovered, there is no substitute for an immersive experience like this in
terms of disconnecting from information overload and for reconnecting with
myself and with others.
As I reflect on these recent
experiences, I've identified the top 10 benefits that I achieved while out in
nature with others. I suspect that many of you will experience something
1.Connecting face-to-face: for me there is no substitute for
connecting with people in person. While we have made tremendous leaps in our
ability to communicate instantly and cheaply with people all around the world,
the price for that can be a reduced ability to really listen and hear what
those around us are saying. (This is especially an issue for those of us with
partners and children)
2.Rediscovering the lost art of conversation: With an empty road
ahead and the day stretching out in front of you, there is a luxury in knowing
that your travelling companions will be there
alongside for that day’s journey and that there is little chance of outside
3.Meeting new people and making new friends: Lets
face it, as we get a little older we run the risk that our social circle(s) and
our world can become a little smaller and very predictable. And for many folks
that work long hours in the city and live in the suburbs, it can be hard to
make friends outside of the workplace especially if you’ve moved there from elsewhere
and don’t already
have an established social network. For those of us that work from home or
independently, it is a great way to stay connected.
4. Escaping from information overload: I constantly seek news
and information (a particular problem today with a never-ending news cycle and
access to unlimited sources of information) and I have to work hard to pull
myself away from a multitude of constantly updated information channels. Out in
nature, where phone coverage is either weak or non-existent, it is much easier
to be more fully present with myself and with others.
5.New business connections: For all the benefits that an online network like
Linked-in can bring, there’s nothing like time spent face-to-face to rapidly build the
know, like and trust factor.
6.Positive after-effects: I find the positive after-effects stay with me
well into the work week, leaving me more energised, more motivated and overall happier. This not only
benefits me but equally, those around me.
7.Variety: Exercise routines can get boring pretty quickly
and if we do not continually challenge our bodies in new and different ways
then the benefits can be limited. Hiking in unfamiliar terrain can mix up our
exercise routines nicely.
8.Learning new skills there’s usually an opportunity to learn new skills, whether that’s learning how to read maps,
using a compass to find your way around, developing climbing, abseiling or
scrambling skills or just learning how to become more resourceful when youre presented with an unexpected challenge.
9.Great exercise: Walking for 10 or 15 miles is so much more
interesting when you’re with others. And when the going gets a little tough, you’re much more likely to push
yourself to do more as part of a group.
benefits. Recent studies have shown
that sitting down for prolonged periods is reducing our life expectancy and
that going to the gym or exercising 1x per day is not in itself enough to
counteract the effects of sitting in front of a computer or a TV for hours per
day. The key is to move so taking a day or a weekend to move ticks this box
Article by Dave Clinton and reproduced
with kind permission from: