What do Ludwig van Beethoven, Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Soren Kierkegaard, Immanuel Kant, Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Charles Dickens all have in common? They are all geniuses, yes. But they share something else in common, too. All of them built a daily walk into their routines.
“But I’m too busy for a walk,” you say. “I’ve got way too much on my plate.” I am telling you right now, it is absolutely imperative that you drop whatever you’re doing and take a walk every single day, no matter how much you have going on.
The life of an academic is increasingly stressful. We are expected to dedicate 50 percent of our time to research, 50 percent of our time to teaching, and 20 percent of our time to administration (no, that’s not a mathematical mistake I made). What’s more, the performance expectations in each of these areas go up from day to day.
Fortunately, most of us are blessed to work on a leafy green campus. Just a stone’s throw from our offices, we can find some measure of peace and tranquillity on or around the quad. This is a luxury not afforded to many other “city” professionals.
Taking a brisk walk daily will do wonders for your physical and mental health, and it’s much more sustainable than a daily run, which would require a shower and change of clothes. A walk across or around campus will get the heart pumping and the lungs breathing, but it also won’t make you smell like a dead fish.
I recommend a minimum 30 minute walk, but true geniuses will traipse around for hours each day. Let your mind wander as you stroll around. Pay attention to the world as it is: chirping birds, lazy clouds, sad trees, and cool water. Think about work, or don’t think about work. If lightning strikes your mind suddenly, pull out your phone and dictate your ideas. But do not look at your phone. If your eyes are fixed on a screen, you’ve defeated the purpose of your walk.
“I recommend a minimum 30 minute walk, but true geniuses will traipse around for hours each day. Let your mind wander as you stroll around. Pay attention to the world as it is: chirping birds, lazy clouds, sad trees, and cool water.“
Keep hydrated. Wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Ask a colleague to join you, but not every day. It’s important to maintain a solitary presence from time to time. This way, you can walk at your own pace and not have to worry about conforming to the burdensome social rules of interaction.
Some people track their steps each day using a smart phone app, but I don’t recommend that you turn this precious time into a competition, even if you’re just competing against yourself. Just be. That’s all. Be present. Be aware of your body and your mind. Be aware of your environment and how you fit within it. Be aware of your genius.
Prof. Andrew R. Timming
This article is published under a Creative Commons 4.0 License.