Walking Everyday, Habits, Leisure and a Happy Life
What can walking everyday teach you about living a happy life?
Beginning last March, I started to walk multiple miles each day.
This was a game changer.
Funny enough, friends began to joke with me saying these were my “cholesterol walks”.
Despite the jeering, I stuck with it.
Here’s why I started in the first place.
March 2020 will go down as one of the most bizarre months in history.
If you’re reading this and have been conscious the past year, you’d probably agree.
In a weeks time, we went from normal day to day lifestyles to quarantined for months on end.
A lot changed very quickly.
With this came the inevitable and sudden change in our habits.
We were forced to adapt.
Personally, I lived a pretty active lifestyle up to that point.
Working out everyday, being out and about with friends, traveling, being social, etc.
The change was difficult at first.
One thing I did appreciate was that this challenged me to take responsibility regardless of the present circumstances.
I became accustomed to the new way of life;
- Working out in my living room
- Spending more time reading
- Cooking meals with my roommates
- Enjoying the occasional drink on the back patio
- Cleaning A LOT more
As the weeks went on, the need to stretch my legs and move more was growing.
Being in the house 24/7 was fine; not getting a breather everyday wasn’t.
At that point, more people were being encouraged to get out, walk, spend more time outside and enjoy the fresh air.
So that’s what I did.
A New Habit
Looking back, my walk became the highlight of my day.
At first, I didn’t have much of an agenda. I simply wanted to move.
After some time, I began to build almost a daily ritual out of it.
Each morning, I’d go on a walk around my neighborhood.
In Philadelphia, the spring mornings were particularly nice. The cool breeze and occasional rain made for an opportune time to focus on the day.
Walking became my replacement for morning commutes.
It’s the prime opportunity to slow down, breathe a little, think, pray, prepare.
Realizing that being outside brings about great contemplation in general, I was able to:
- Reflect deeply
- Gain clarity around my goals
- Stay focused on what was important
- Remain sane
All because of a tiny, 45 minute window every day.
I realized the walking itself wasn’t the most important part; at least from a values perspective.
On a physical level, it was huge.
Working out plus walking over five miles each day left me in better shape.
No doubt this has done wonders for my overall health.
The kicker though?
In a time of uncertainty, confusion, potentially fear and frustration; I was calm, at peace, and focused.
In other words, I was happy.
This simple habit (that all my friends said was for old people) added so much to my life.
Update: I still walk every day.
In hindsight, implementing a daily walk has taught me two very important lessons.
Prioritize what brings about genuine happiness
Don’t skip a day where you do at least one thing that increases your overall quality of life.
To do so is spiritual, emotional, physical and mental suicide.
These actions, when done consistently, create habits.
Habits have a compounding effect — you’ll gain far more from this than the act itself (in my opinion).
When you’ve done something consistently, you have something concrete to be proud of.
This is one very simple, yet major way to increase your overall happiness.
Leisure is more important than you think
Walking has helped me to remember the importance of play.
I recognized I was craving leisure in my daily life.
Josef Pieper, the author of Leisure: The Basis of Culture gives an interesting definition of leisure,
Leisure is the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion in the real.
Leisure is more important today than ever before.
Honestly, play is more important than work.
Due to our highly technological and digital culture, our pursuit of more, and the current tension our world finds itself in; you and I are in a constant state of flux.
Maintaining a disposition of contemplation is essential to combating this form of dissonance.
Contemplating what though?
Simply reality itself.
You and I easily become disillusioned if consistently in a state of tension or avoid those more essential elements of life.
Just as building habits are essential to our feeling of accomplishment; so too is leisure to our experiencing ourselves and the world as it really is.
Experiencing ourselves and the world as they really are; that is the key to happiness, my friends.
Who knew that walking, something so normal and even routine, could spark such new discoveries and happiness.