In recent times it seems that unless something has a direct return, be it financially, socially or whatever, many people aren't willing to invest their precious time in it. You only have to go a back a decade or so to see how things have changed in recent times, where instead of going for a stroll in the park, woods or even along a path somewhere, people would often prefer to go for a coffee, or worse still play on the computer, tablet or watch the telly!
The bliss of aimless walking
So what as happened to the pastime of walking just for the sake of walking? A leisurely stroll is a time for relaxation and reflection, some of the worlds greatest ideas came whilst strolling aimlessly. Ever noticed how the more you make a concerted effort to remember something, or come up with an idea the harder it is to do? We live in a society where cars, bicycles, buses, trams, and trains predominate, meaning there is more often than not very little time for a good old walk. If people do go for a walk it’s usually a pre planned thing, a bit of an event, but researchers are suggesting that this doesn’t leave a lot of time for reflecting and thinking. There are few better opportunities to clear the mind and come up with ideas than when in the middle of a relaxing, aimless stroll.
Some of our greatest thinkers often walked aimlessly
One of the most famous thinkers ever, William Wordsworth was a walker. He would often mention how he was tramping in the Lake District, drinking in the stark beauty. He described these times as an opportunity for him to get lost in his thoughts. Another imaginative genius was Charles Dickens who reportedly walked for 20 miles of an evening, he felt at one with himself and the city when he strolled at night and felt strongly that this was when a lot of his best ideas came to fruition. Virginia Woolf apparently walked for inspiration, to conjure up new and innovative ideas. She walked from her home at Rodmell in the South Downs and loved walking through many a London park. Get this, BBC News (2014) alluded to Constantin Brancusi, a famous sculptor who walked much of the way between his village in Romania to….PARIS! OK, so this is a little extreme, but the theory holds true that a stroll (or multiple marathon in Brancusi’s case) can certainly help to clear the mind.
May is national walking month
So what better time to start allocating some time to getting out, unwinding and becoming at one with your inner self? You don’t have to walk miles, in fact a recent study from Stanford University showed that even walking on a treadmill can go some way to improving your creative thinking.
BBC News, (2014). The slow death of purposeless walking. Retrieved 2nd March, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27186709