We’re all connected 24/7. Selfies, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Blogging, getting just the right angle, taking the perfect photo, documenting and recording everything. Why? Likes and shares?

Even with all that connectivity, something’s missing isn’t it? It still feels like we’re disconnected. How can that be? Because we’re not connected with nature. The more I travel, the more I want to put down everything to just breathe and connect. Below are a few reasons why its important to unplug and connect with nature.

You Gain Clarity

Nothing puts life into perspective more than being disconnected and watching nature. The more I do it, the more I like it. Previous problems seem trivial, and a sense of calm washes over my body like the warm waves of Caribbean. Walking in the woods, watching the birds, and listening to the sounds of the jungle are more therapeutic than any drug.

Most Problems Become Trivial

When I’m spending time with nature, just about everything else melts away. This is especially true for anything having to do with the digital world. It’s completely removed from the thought process. Almost like it doesn’t exist anymore. Social media is a joke when you’re sitting in the middle of the woods, listening to the red-tailed Hawk or watching a Coyote make his way home.

Perspective on Life

Connecting with nature allows me to realize, “hey life isn’t all about me.” We all need that reality check sometimes. Being disconnected from everything and sitting alone in the jungle or desert makes one feel small in a good way. We live in an age of hyper-narcissism. Putting down the devices, disconnecting from social media, and taking a few moments each day allows me to feel grounded, real, and connected in more ways than I ever dreamed.

Connecting With Nature Forces You to Be Selfless

It’s hard being selfless when human beings are unquestionably the most selfish beings on the planet. Sadly, it’s not getting any better. Connecting with nature brings out the selfless attributes that we all have hidden inside of us. We’re forced to think about how our actions affect other beings. When it’s just you and another non-human being that can’t talk, can’t connect to social media, and can’t compete with you, one has no choice but to think about that being. At least temporarily, connecting with nature makes us less selfish people.

Solitude = Ideas

Sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with me. Maybe it’s the Multiple Sclerosis, or maybe it’s the nine months I spent in Iraq listening to mortars and explosions. The cause is irrelevant because I enjoy the quiet. I REALLY enjoy the quiet. SO much so that I make an effort to seek places empty of other people. I’ve always enjoyed quiet and solitude, and the older I get the more I realize how important it is to spend time alone with myself and my thoughts.

That means no big parties for me, black Friday shopping, large sports stadiums, or concerts (although I may make an exception for the upcoming Poison and Def Leppard tour). Sitting with nature alone gives me all kinds of ideas that otherwise wouldn’t come to me in a noisy environment. The next trip, next travel story, and the decision to go back to school were all made outside, away from the computer.

Connecting with nature forces you to be quiet.

This is probably the very best part of just sitting still and watching, listening, learning. You HAVE to be quiet. No You Tube videos, no selfies, no shouting “look at me. I was here.” You won’t believe the things you will see and hear if you stop moving and talking for just a short while. Most of my photographs of nature are taken only after a lot of time sitting still and quiet.

Connecting With Nature Improves Physical and Mental Health

An immediate drop in blood pressure, calmness over body and mind, improved sleep, and improved outlook on life are just a few of the immediate effects of spending time with nature. Of course, these are only personal experiences, but research shows that there are significant health benefits to spending time in the outdoors. Even petting my cat and spending time with my puppy produce a calming effect.

It Will Make You Happy

If nothing else, connecting with nature produces and undeniable feeling of happiness. When I see a bird, dolphin, iguana, or any other animal, I actually feel blessed and happy. I feel special that this being decided to interact with me, even from a distance. Even seeing a deer makes me incredibly happy, and I can’t explain why. It probably has something to do with realizing that we’re part of a greater universe.

If you’re reading this, stop what you’re doing. Put down everything and disconnect from everything. No need to like, share, or comment. Just stop everything, disconnect,  pause and go outside. Take a few minutes and look at the sky and hear the birds. Look at the ground and see the ants. Walk in the woods and smell the clean air. Connect with nature and you’ll come back refreshed, calm, and ready to face the world.

** All of my photographs are taken after long periods of quiet observation with a 200mm zoom lens. I do not disturb or physically interact with the beings in any way.