You might be saying to yourself, "Really? Your first column for the new year has to be an exercise resolution?"
Stay with me now. This exercise isn't hard at all, but I guarantee you that its benefits are real and tangible. You probably already do it every day (and some of you may even do it in your sleep). But you may not have ever harnessed its transformative powers.
It is called walking.
OK, not just walking, but walking with a purpose. I have been doing this for years and have made some of the biggest decisions in my life after long walks. Decisions like, how can I make my live performance better? How much longer do I continue doing this project? How do I keep the Twisted Sister brand evolving and remaining relevant? Is my marriage really over? Should I file for bankruptcy?
These questions were not small and trite. They were life changing.
Long, deliberative walks can be the source of soul searching and contemplative analysis. Walking is not only a great form of exercise, but it also stimulates the mind. When friends ask me where I get inspiration, I tell them that I get up every morning and go for a walk. I aim for at least 20 minutes a day, but sometimes it's as much as two hours, because I incorporate walking into many of my meetings. During these daily walks, I come up with ideas and structure for my projects--and ways to solve challenges.
I used to run. A lot. I ran for six years and finished two New York City marathons. Running was a great source of exercise, but took too much of a toll on my body. Walking, however, is something you can do every day.
When you are sitting at your desk at work and beating yourself up because you seem to have hit a wall, get up, go outside, and walk, but keep thinking about the problem. Maybe go out with a co-worker. Walk and talk. Go over the challenge. As your blood gets flowing, your body releases endorphins, which help ease your stress--and allow you to think more clearly about how to solve the problem.
I love this passage from the book Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit:
"Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in a conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts ... Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time, the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations."
See you in the park.