Interesting philosophical idea I came across from the old-school (pre-socratic//aka, before socrates) philosopher Anaximander: that the soul is something that has the capacity to set our movement in motion! #MOVEMEAN
So this is my theory:
The reason why a lot of us get ‘depressed’ in life is because we don’t move enough!
For example, I spent a cold and very bitter winter in Berlin and NYC, and I felt mildly miserable and depressed.
A lot of people say that we get ‘seasonal affectiveness disorder’ (SAD//or feeling depressed in the wintertime) because we lack sunlight. I agree some of this idea, because I do believe that us humans get energy from the sun (just as plants have ‘photo-synthesis’). But I think that the biggest problem of the winter is this:
We don’t move/walk/do stuff in the wintertime– because it is so cold outside!
I feel especially for my friend in Nordic countries– I went to Umea, Sweden in the wintertime for Cindy’s conference, and we seriously had to put ice picks on the bottom of our boots just to walk around town!
So once again, my basic theory is this:
A lot of our depression is caused by lack of movement.
And this is the problem:
When we feel depressed, we don’t have an incentive to move. But when we don’t move, we stay depressed– and perhaps get EVEN MORE depressed!
In modern life– I think the biggest reason why we are so miserable is that we move/walk so little! For example, as a Los Angelino, I wake up in the morning, walk 30 seconds to my car, drive to work, get stuck in traffic, park my car in the office parking lot, then walk 1 minute into my job, sit down at my desk, and perhaps walk around the office for some coffee, then walk another 5 minutes during lunch time to eat, then peck away at the computer at work, then after work walk a little bit back to my car, drive home, park your car at home, cook some dinner, watch Netflix, shower, and then sleep (to only repeat this behavior).
The common narrative is that people are ‘so lazy’ nowadays, and that is why we don’t walk, move, act, or do stuff. I wholly disagree. I think the problem is this:
The way that modern society is setup PREVENTS us from walking, moving, and acting!
For example, if you live in NYC, London, Tokyo, SF, or any big metro city it is very easy to walk around. Because you must– it is a necessity! I don’t think New Yorkers really “like” to walk. They must walk, because most New Yorkers cannot afford parking for their cars, and it is just impractical to own a car in NYC.
However if you live in the suburbs of LA, or anywhere else in the states, or anywhere else more “rural” in the world, you need a car to get around. Therefore, you will not have any necessity or incentive to walk/move.
And once again, if you live in a place that has really really cold winters– you’re not going to have any motivation to walk/move!
I’ve noticed that a lot of people like going for ‘photo walks’, or they enjoy going out to shooting street photography. But why?
Of course, there is the artistic element of making photos. But my theory is this — photography encourages us, or gives us a motive/reason (motivation) to move, walk, explore, and do stuff!
Chinese acupuncture and foot massage points a lot of intelligence points in the bottom of our feet. I think the science behind the “chi” of body energy and meridians and foot nerves and stuff like that is pseudo-science, but the effect is real. Whenever you get a (often painful) foot massage– you feel phenomenal afterwards! Your mood is improved, you feel more energy, and you just feel ‘happier’.
I don’t think we will ever 100% know the science behind how our feet is linked to our intelligence, or how the human body coordinates bi-ped movement (walking on two feet). But the truth is this:
The reason why the human brain evolved the way it did was to coordinate movement (on two legs), to procure food, and to walk long distances!
Unfortunately in today’s modern world, our body is “legacy hardware” — the modern human doesn’t need to walk or move! We can be like the fat future humans in the Disney film WALL-E; we can sit in our floating chairs, sip our sodas, and fly around.
But the problem is this:
Our brain-function still depends on our movement, and use of our feet/legs!
I’ve discovered for myself, the more I move, the happier I am. The more I move, the more ideas I get. The more I move (with my camera around my neck), the more photo opportunities I see, and the more photos I shoot! And the more photos I shoot, the more joy I get in the process of making photos. And the more I shoot, the more likely I am to make a photo that brings joy to me!
Anyways, whenever you move more, walk more, and do more — the more likely you are to do fun activity, which will bring more joy to you!
Also I’ve discovered that my best ideas always come to me while walking.
Nassim Taleb says:
“To become a philosopher, first start off by going on long walks.”
Nietzsche also had a similar idea– that all truly great ideas come to us while we are moving/walking aimlessly — NOT when we are sitting down at a desk!
How to walk more
- Put on some energizing beats/music, and put on some headphones, and go for a run or a walk! Or listen to a podcast, and go for a nice walk.
- Drive to the park, park your car, and then just walk around the park for fun!
- If you don’t have motivation to move, have a double shot of espresso (no cream or sugar), and then go for a walk!
- Buy some good minimalist walking shoes: For ‘normal’ athletic shoes, I recommend the NIKE FLYKNIT FREE shoes, or my new favorite discovery — “Water Shoes” (I bought a ‘Shark Styled’ pair of water shoes on Amazon for only $15 USD — which is the ultimate minimalist walking shoe). I also enjoy going to the gym in my Vibram ‘Five Finger’ shoes — to have more contact with the ground! The more I can feel contact with the ground, the more intelligent I feel in my feet.
- Get rid of your car: Cindy and I experimented getting rid of our car for a year, by giving it to our sister Jennifer. Living without a car in Berkeley for a year was great– it actually gave us a real reason or impetus to walk more, take more public transportation/bus, and it was great! By walking more together, we talked more together (our best conversations are generally when we walk together).
- Carry less weight in your backpack: Aim to make your equipment ‘ultralight’ — carry the absolutely minimum amount of weight in your backpack. The less weight you have on your back or shoulder– the more you will be able to walk, with less fatigue!
- Don’t walk for a purpose: Walk for the sake of walking! Don’t walk for ‘exercise’, then it will feel like an annoying chore. Walk because you enjoy walking!
- When you’re traveling, take public transportation when possible (instead of taxi/uber)– which will give you a reason to walk more, get lost more, and have more fun!
- If you’re traveling, experiment spending some days NOT using Google Maps/GPS! This will cause you to get lost more– which is good! You will walk/move more, and you will probably talk more with strangers to ask for directions. I’ve lived about 1.5 years without a phone, and it has been the best thing for me — I walk more, I get lost more, I am less distracted, and I’m generally more focused and happier/less anxious!
- If you live in a very very hot place, or a heavily industrialized city in Asia — just go for a walk in the mall! Of course it is “better” to walk in the streets or in nature; but employ your life situation to the maximum! Walk around the mall, take street photos, and let your mind wander! When Cindy and I lived in Saigon and it was raining like crazy outside, we would just go to the Saigon Center mall and just walk around, chat, then have a lovely dinner together.
Some more extreme ideas:
- If you like to walk, opt to live in a city or country which allows you to walk! Good walking cities I’ve been to include SF, NYC, Bangkok, Hanoi, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Seoul, Downtown LA, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
- If you’re a cold-blooded reptile (like me) and you hate the cold — don’t live in a city that gets cold!!! I am born and bred in California, and as much as I say I love the cold, I cannot stand it. Thus, whenever I have it in my power, I will always avoid living in a city or being in a city while it is cold! Or do what the Swedes do — get out of the country in the wintertime to go to Thailand or Vietnam!
- If you live somewhere super cold, and still like to walk– buy some super super warm clothes (that might be expensive). Spend a lot of money on warm boots, and down jackets. Any monetary investment that allows you to walk and move more is a good investment!
So to sum up this essay, think this:
Anything that encourages you to move more is a good thing!
So incorporate more things in your life which allow you to walk and move more:
- Upbeat music
- Meeting up friends in the evening for dinner or drinks
- Walking for fun
- Commuting to work via public transit instead of car
- Drinking more black coffee or green/black tea
- Avoid any lifestyle or dietary choices which make you sleepy during the day, which discourage you from moving (this is why I fast during the day, and I also eat a very strict ‘ketogenic’ diet).
And remember the wise saying from Publilus Syrus,
“The rolling stone gathers no moss.”
NEVER STOP MOVING!
Just shoot it:
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- Just Shoot.
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