For years I’ve been a runner. I run because it’s a simple, inexpensive way to stay in shape. Running is also an excuse to be outside, regardless of the weather. As such I’ve never owned a treadmill because, when I’ve had the opportunity to use one, I’ve found them to be well… torturous.
I have also discovered another significant benefit of running – when I run I find better solutions to pending problems, gain new perspectives on relationships, have better focus on a message that needs delivering or pray with more clarity.
The only reasonable explanation I’ve heard for this phenomenon is that running, with its physical rhythm of moving and breathing, especially outside, clears the mind of the clutter that can so easily cloud our thinking.
When I’ve had periods when I’m not running or not running much, I see a decrease in the quality of my thinking, especially around complex issues. On the other hand, as I look back on the last 30 years of my life, I can almost connect every good decision I’ve made, or idea I’ve had, to a run I’ve taken.
Now running isn’t for everyone. But doing something that includes the following three elements is a must if we’re to have any hope of experiencing clarity of thinking:
Rhythmic physical activity
That’s so simple to do it requires no thinking to do it
And keeps any potential distractions away
Such things as biking, walking, swimming or rocking in a chair (my 2nd favorite activity after running) can create the right combination of these elements as well.
So whatever the activity, making the effort to do it on a regular basis will de-clutter our minds and give us the clarity of thinking that’s necessary to deal with the complex world in which we live.