According to Martin Seligman, a leading psychologist and educator, there are five major building blocks to general health and well-being:-
- Positive emotions – feeling good.
- Engagement – being completely absorbed in activities.
- Relationships – being authentically and genuinely connected to others.
- Meaning – purposeful existence.
- Achievement – a sense of accomplishment and success.
How do these five building blocks relate to the outdoors?
Positive emotions: Undoubtedly, for the majority of people, the great outdoors is a hugely positive and enjoyable experience. It’s in our genes to be outside; in a forest, on a lake or up a mountain. When we are immersed in our natural environs, away from everyday distractions, it gives us time, renewed energy and space to think and reflect on life, putting things into perspective, all which have an immeasurable positive impact on our general well-being.
Engagement: A major issue arising from hectic work and/or home schedules is that often times, no one task is completed; we get pulled from one thing to another without completing tasks. When we undertake an outdoor activity, should it be walking, cycling or climbing for example, we become fully focused on that particular task. These outdoor activities are structured and have a set goal, we are focused without distraction and work towards the goal with a view to completion.
Relationships: Sadly, one of the major downsides of modern technology is that it has diminished our ability to physically and emotionally connect with each other. Walk into a bar, café or restaurant and a large majority of the occupants will be, head bent, on a phone or mobile device, no conversation. To the contrary, small or large groups immersed in an outdoor activity communicate naturally and build relationships with fellow group/team members. It is, however, often times extremely therapeutic and enjoyable to experience the outdoors in solitude.
Meaning: We all need a purpose in life, something we really care about and enjoy. The numerous wide ranging outdoor activities available provide greatly for: enjoyment, purpose, engagement, passion, goal setting and personal achievement. Options are extensive for both beginners keen on acquiring a new skill and experienced folk looking for a new challenge or to improve on their existing skills i.e. sailing, kayaking, rock-climbing, windsurfing, hiking, sea kayaking etc.
Achievement: Self actualisation brings exhilaration and triumph. The sense of personal achievement when we put our minds to accomplishment can be immense. Outdoor activities are ideally suited to provide a great sense of self-worth and achievement. They are designed in such a way to introduce people to a new activity at an elementary level, with the opportunity for a progressive journey of self- development and achievement, possibly resulting in expertise and/or becoming an instructor or coach, giving rise to passing on that skill/expertise to the next generation so that they too can reap the benefits and rewards of the great outdoors and all it offers.
For positive general health and well-being, you need look no further than outside! The endless options and activities offered by the great outdoors and by those who work there, will enhance your life immeasurably.