How to Be Happy (Hint: It Involves the Outdoors)

How to Be Happy (Hint: It Involves the Outdoors)

Despite what the multi-billion dollar self-help industry will tell you, happiness is actually pretty simple. All you need is endorphins, the outdoors, and maybe a dog. Obviously, this is a major oversimplification of a complex subject that assumes a crazy amount of base-level layers of wellbeing—you know: health, wealth, relationship status, whether or not you live in a society where you have basic human rights and freedom. If, however, you’ve got the basic things taken care of, there are a few very easy and simple things you can do to be happier.

So without further ado, here’s a rundown of how to be happy—Superfeet style.

Pleasure, Meet Purpose

First thing’s first: what is happiness? How do you define it? For that, let’s turn to Tal Ben-Shahar. He’s a PhD professor who essentially invented the playbook on happiness. For many years, he taught the most popular course at Harvard called “How to Be Happier.” Then he opened up the floor to non-Harvard folks by writing the best-selling book called Happier. In that course, and in the book, the main way he defines happiness is as the intersection between pleasure and purpose. If you pursue one without the other, you’re bound to come up short in the happiness department. Too much pleasure and you wind up on the Hedonist hamster wheel constantly chasing high after elusive high. If you focus too much on purpose, you’ll probably slip into the rat race syndrome of focusing too much on things like money, success, and status.

Where true happiness is forged is in that Goldilocks middle zone—where you’re able to do things that bring you both short-term joy and long-term meaning. You know—things like spending time with family, using your mind and body, going on adventures, eating a Snickers bar on top of a mountain.

Get on Your Feet (Ahem, Your Superfeet)

Get on your feet, get movin', and get after it. - Jamie Brown.

You know what they say: Idleness is the Devil’s playground. And if idleness is the Devil’s playground, then “sedentariness” is like the park bench within this playground that for years has only served as a place for pigeons and dogs to go to the bathroom. In other words, movement is critical to happiness. Sitting down = bad. Standing up, going on more walks throughout the day, running and exercising? Good. Very good.

(Oh, quick sidebar: did we mention that Superfeet insoles are pretty darn great at keeping you on your feet for longer and in far more comfort? Okay, good. Now back to the show….)

Additionally, one thing they don’t tell you at one of those fancy fitness studios is that you can turbo-charge your endorphin power if you add a little dynamic mindfulness to the mix. In other words, don’t just get moving at a boring place like the gym. Broaden your horizons. Put your mind to work at the same time that your body is gettin’ after it. Sports are great for this—throw a game or a competition into the mix and you’re bound to get the brain’s pleasure circuits firing. Outdoor activities are even better. Trail running and hiking, for instance, require not just physical endurance, but mental agility too. You’re in full-focus when you’re bombing down a trail. If you’re not, well, that’s the precise moment when you devour a face-full of dirt.

So, the lesson here: get on your feet, get movin’, and get after it in ways that are holistically good for you.

Input, Output System

Speaking of what’s good for you, as with many things in life, so much of what you get is based on what you give. The human body is no different. Eat like crap, feel like crap. Watch crap, think like crap. The brain and the body need nourishment. So, one super simple way to be happy is to ensure you’re following mama’s age-old advice, and EAT YOUR VEGETABLES! Not only that, read books, listen to classical music, swim in frigid creeks. The more brain and body food you give your body, the happier you’ll be. It’s the best kind of feedback loop. You’ll not only feel better about yourself, you’ll simply feel better.

Nature Knows Best

Nature is good for the soul. Just ask science. - Jamie Brown

It’s a scientific fact that nature is good for the soul. According to Science Daily, “Exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.” And according to Time Magazine, just 20 minutes outside in a green space makes you happier. This shouldn’t come as some groundbreaking discovery. If you’ve ever stared into the no man’s land of a crackling campfire, or hiked through an evergreen forest with the citrusy sap nipping at your nostrils, then you’ll know just how soul-stirring nature can be. But it never hurts to have a little scientific backup.

Find Your Principles, Adhere to Your Values

Not to be too preachy, but getting in tune with what makes you tick can do wonders for your overall well-being. Just ask Ray Dalio, the investor-philanthropist who wrote the book on principles. (Ahem, the book is actually called Principles, and it’s worth a trip to your local library.) The basic gist is that it’s not only easier & more efficient to go through life with a well-defined set of personal principles, but it’s more enjoyable too. How many times have you been faced with a tough decision and flip-flopped a thousand times before decision fatigue finally found you flailing for a random coin to toss? If your answer was “every time I go out to dinner”, maybe it’s time to make a list of your personal principles. In other words, knowing what key values are important to you will help you know—and get—what you want out of life.

For us at Superfeet, we adhere to a number of principles and values. At the top of our list are: integrity, responsibility, respect, excellence, and innovation. These might sound trite on their own. But when we apply these values to our everyday (to our product, to the way we treat each other and our customers, to how we navigate our work & lives), we know we always have that guiding compass of values to adhere to.

Get The Dog

At the end of the day, if none of this advice works for you, go ahead… get the dog. It’s the most surefire way there is to attain happiness.

In the meantime, we say this with the utmost topicality: HAPPY Trails.

Written by Ry Glover for Matcha in partnership with Superfeet.

April 28, 2021