Turn Off The Computer And Go Outside. Happiness Is Waiting!

camp fire

In my earliest memory, I'm 3-years old and sitting in my front yard in Atlanta, surrounded by tall grass and yellow dandelions. I pick the flowers, and one by one, I pop them into my mouth. Yum! They taste like the warmth of the sun, a little tart, a little sweet. (It's a good thing they're edible!) When I was three, smelling the earth and eating a mouthful of dandelions was pure bliss. Spending time outdoors still makes me feel alive and at peace. But it's easy to get so caught up with the busy-ness of life, I sometimes forget to take time to be still and appreciate the small wonders of life. I forget how to be happy.

You won't find me eating weeds off my front lawn anymore (although they are now served in salads at some gourmet restaurants — who knew?), but connecting with nature is still my number one go-to happy place. When I was in my 20s, I went on a 3-week cross-country camping trip with my boyfriend. I was awed by the way the stars twinkled so brightly away from the light pollution in the city and I was even more shocked the first time I came face-to-face with a buffalo. I felt so lucky to witness the breathtaking wonders of the national parks of America and Canada; the striated pink rock formations in Bryce Canyon and the absolute grandness of the Grand Canyon. I now prefer sleeping on a memory foam mattress rather than a sleeping bag on the hard ground, but I still get excited when discovering a new hiking trail in Vermont or climbing to the top of one of the White Mountains in New Hampshire and witnessing the spectacular view from above.

But I don't have to travel to some farflung exotic outdoor destination to find my happy place. Joy and bliss can be found in the simplest moments. It's about taking a walk around my neighborhood with my son who stops to point out the reflection of a tree in a puddle, the luminous wings of a dragonfly, or the way the light is filtered through the trees as the sun breaks through on a cloudy day. He helps me to become present instead of racing ahead, trying to get the most out of my daily powerwalks.

Whenever life becomes overwhelming, all I have to do is go outside to my deck with a steaming cup of freshly brewed espresso. I sit back and look out on my beautiful backyard. I find my happy place right there on my deck, just steps away from my home office, and breathe in the scent of the earth after the rain, the deep green of the oak trees, and the sound of the birds chirping and the wind rustling. I feel as free and unencumbered as my 3-year-old self — grateful for all that is good in the world. In that moment, I am happy and at peace.