Challenge 3 Daily practice


Practice makes permanent. Extensive evidence suggests that short duration, high frequency interventions in outdoor, experiential physical practice produce the most consistent and significant returns in cognition and in health. Here, we explore at least three of the frameworks open to innovation for boosts in performance cognitively and emotionally.

Passive outdoor time can include observation, sitting, and breath work. This category can also include taking calls outside or outdoor meetings. Nature can become the backdrop, and it is not necessarily the primary focus.

Active outdoor interactions can include observation similar to passive but directs attention to better mapping and identifying with natural complexity. Typically, attention is directed to the natural systems. The natural system is the focus.

Green exercise is doing a short physical activity outdoors as a mechanism to either restore or prime cognition and creativity. It can also dramatically enhance emotional wellbeing. The focus is split between interacting with the natural environment and the activity.

Learning outcomes

  1. Explore some of the hacks suggested previously in this course of study.
  2. Contrast at least three options for boosted performance from nature ninja thinking.
  3. Develop a nature identity.

Challenge time

  1. Practice passive ‘how low can you go’ outdoor time. Try for only 12mins total per day outside. Sit outside to recover, and apply a diffuse focus to natural observation.
  2. Download iNaturalist app. For one week, identify a single plant, bird, or other animal daily. Alternatively, download any nature ID app such as PictureThis. Do the identifications and just keep track yourself in a notebook.
  3. Explore green exercise. Take a meeting outside and walk, take a call outside, walk somewhere new a few times a week, do a short run, jog for 12 mins only, or stretch outside.
  4. Read the paper ‘Understanding the transformative aspects of the Wilderness and Protected Lands experience upon human health’. Reflect on small or large changes in how you select where you go or where you engage with natural space. It does not have to be a park or pristine protected area. It has be special only to you. There is excellent evidence that any space that you call your ‘own’ and feel connectedness to enhances health.
  5. Retake this creativity test or try the thirty-circles test, outside with a clipboard, and show the outcome to someone else for fun feedback.

Reflection questions

  1. Was there a category of outdoor interaction that most suited your needs and was more easily reconciled with existing routines? Passive recovery time, active natural observation, or green exercise (instead of some of the time you might allocate to the gym or other workout times).
  2. Did an identity such as birder, walker, open-air thinker, outdoor meeting person, plant lover, or outdoor reflection seem like a good fit?
  3. What impediments or frictions long-term will present challenges to nature ninja hacks - at the fine-grain resolution of daily experiential boosts?
  4. Given the evidence presented previously for reciprocal restoration benefits and feedback loops between people and natural systems when we ‘fix up’ nature, how can you consider taking outdoor experiential interactions to this next level? This would not be at at the daily level but instead include monthly park or beach cleanups, native planting, weed removal, tending your plants indoors or outdoors weekly, or other processes that demonstrate and affirm benefits to both systems - you and the other natural systems.