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Incentive to take a walk

For such an easy activity, there's a lot to be said about the value of a leisurely walk - good for our health, of course, but also offering benefits to our creativity, our ability to learn, our mental state, our energy, our thinking patterns, and more. Annie Murphy Paul’s new book, The Extended Mind, contains a long passage extolling the benefits of walking that is almost guaranteed to make you want to lace up your sneakers.
     "Although contemporary culture prescribes sitting still while thinking, a stroll through the history of literature and philosophy finds ample evidence of a counter-message. Remember Friedrich Nietzsche, from earlier in our journey. “Only thoughts which come from walking have value,” he maintained. Soren Kierkegaard felt similarly. “I have walked myself into my best thoughts,” remarked the Danish philosopher. Walking is “gymnastics for the mind,” observed the American writer Ralph Walter Emerson. “I am unable to reflect when I am not walking; the moment I stop, I think no more, and as soon as I am again in motion, my head resumes its workings.” averred the Swiss-born philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

     These great thinkers were clearly on to something. We ought to be finding ways to integrate movement into all our daily activities, to tap into the mobile intelligence of “the mind at three miles per hour,” as the contemporary writer Rebecca Solnit has called the mental state induced by walking."
Across many cultures, there’s a long history of using walking as a mental adventure that takes away stress and leads to deep insights. Aboriginal Australians embark on a walkabout as a rite of passage, the Japanese have made a practice of forest bathing, pilgrims have been walking El Camino de Santiago since the middle ages, and many hikers enjoy taking on the challenge of the Appalachian Trail. But you don’t need exotic locations and long preparation to benefit from taking a step outside to enjoy the sun, the air, and the mental quiet that a lone walk can provide.  

My walking paths on a recent Cape Cod vacation...
Breakwater Beach, the Rail Trail (Harwich), Nauset Beach
Walking is my go-to daily exercise, and I can attest to the charms it works on my ability to think. Walks are for ruminating, problem-solving, daydreaming, contemplating, pondering, creating, decision-making, agitating, exorcising, remembering, planning, self-talking, and deep breathing. Amidst pandemic isolation, political tension, racial reckoning, economic strain, and employment upheaval, a walk may be just what you need. It won’t solve the problems of the world, but it can put you in a better head space for dealing with them.
I invite you to take a walk - it does a body, and a mind, good.

May 2021

“Walking is also an ambulation of the mind.”
Gretel Ehrlich

For your bookshelf...calendar icon

Check out my review of
The Extended Mind:
The power of thinking outside the brain

By Annie Murphy Paul
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 2021)


Interesting insights that caught my attention this past month.

Design Together: A future work life you want to lead
// Laura Pasquini, TechKNOWTools blog, May 2021
Food for thought on how to design work life post-pandemic.

Brain Hacks: Learning Myths busted
// Accenture, on YouTube
A series of bite-sized videos explaining to employees how learning works.

A Conversation with Daniel Kahneman About Noise
// Evan Nesterak, Behavioral Scientist, May 2021
Learn more about Daniel Kahneman's new book, "Noise," which sheds light on how to minimize judgment disparity.

Learning is the New Working Podcast
// Chris Prire, Learning Futures Group
A new-to-me podcast on the future of L&D.

Adventures in creating a game

// Catherine Lombardozzi, Learning Journal Blog, April 2021
The origin story of my Build a Better Learning Culture card game - a work-out-loud post.
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