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< Inside L.L.Bean

Freeport, ME, May 14, 2021

Why Every Season is the Perfect Time for Personal Growth

Whether the natural world is in bloom or blanketed in snow, inspiration outside is everywhere

Self-help is a distinctively American idea. Whether we’re mastering our minds with David Goggins, listening to Michelle Obama talk about becoming, or watching motivational speakers from the stage at RISE, we love stories of personal betterment—and we spend a lot of money searching for ways to improve our lives. In 2016, the U.S. self-help industry was worth about $9.9 billion dollars, and researchers have predicted that the industry will be worth over $13 billion dollars by 2022.

And while these resources have helped thousands of people on their journey toward better selves, there is a simple (and free!) way to cultivate the traits we associate with personal growth. From increased generosity to strengthening the bonds with the ones we love, the time we spend outside can help us on this path to becoming the best versions of our selves.

According to a recent study from March of 2020, time in nature is linked to life satisfaction and personal growth. Researchers followed participants on a 5-day trek in the winter wilderness and found that the participants’ experience with nature related to hedonic (“relating to or considered in terms of pleasant sensations”) and eudaimonic (“a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous”) feelings. They found a correlation between how strongly participants agreed with the statement, “I felt at home in nature” and life satisfaction and personal growth measures. In other words, the participants who felt at home in nature felt better about themselves and their lives.

Now, not everyone can embark on a wilderness adventure. But what we know about awe and time outside tells us you don’t have to bundle up and cross a wintery plateau. The big things do elicit feelings of wonder, but so do the small. And when we can make time—even just 15 minutes a day—to engage with the natural world and make it our home, we can make great progress against our goals of self- and life-satisfaction. Put simply: being outside is self-care.

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