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A Few Minutes, Just a Few Minutes – To Watch, Listen, Enjoy

Taking time during our busy lives to sit still for a while takes commitment and discipline. We all put off the “yes I will get to that” thoughts far too often, thinking about them as we fall asleep, saying to ourselves – “tomorrow for sure”. Right! I am as guilty as the next person, with a list of “to dos” longer than my arm – just ask my wife Mary.

But this is a different kind of challenge for you that may inspire a commitment that has many benefits that come from immersing yourself in the bountiful nature around us. Yes, I have written about this before, but it is worth repeating – a step toward making it a habit.

First step: put your phone down – away from you! Step two: find a nice quite place outside where you like to sit. This is important, as a key element of creating a habit is starting out with something that is pleasant, like sitting in a special spot. Step three: stop, look, and listen.

Many of us have heard or read that it takes 21 days to form a habit. There is plenty debate about that statistic, with recent research suggesting an average of 66 days. The good news is that if it is something that makes you happy, it could take less time.

The benefit of taking a nature break for me is that it allows me to stop thinking about all of the other things in my world, at least for a time. If I sit still long enough, ideas do pop into my head about the things on my many to-do lists (I have several), but those thoughts are more about how to get them done.

In many ways, the habit of sitting on my porch swing, with a view of our forested backyard and tidal marsh beyond does let me refocus. Part of my new habit is to leave that blasted phone in the house – so I can watch and listen.

Try it once a week for starters. Here is hoping that it becomes a habit.

Hope to see you in our great outdoors!


Written by Mark W. LaSalle, Ph.D.

Mark is a naturalist and wetland ecologist, providing expertise on wetlands, water quality and environmental impacts of humans. He has also developed and conducted a number of environmental education programs and workshops for youth, teachers, realtors, and the general public on a variety of subjects including wetlands, natural history, and environmental landscaping. Mark is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (B.S. and M.S. degrees) and Mississippi State University (Ph.D.). Mark is the recipient of the Chevron Conservation Award, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator Award, the Gulf Guardian Award, and the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award.


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