Constitutional Right

"Above all," wrote the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, “do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts....”

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, went so far as to say “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

A walk taken regularly for the sake of one’s well-being is called a constitutional. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were in good company. Gandhi, Darwin, Emerson, and many creative (and long-lived) people throughout history took constitutionals often. You can too. Here’s how to have a good one:

Walk at a pace that’s easy and pleasant. Don’t make your constitutionals do double duty as an exercise program. A constitutional is closer to meditation, but it’s not a “discipline.” It’s more like a vacation, and that’s exactly the attitude to have.

Bring a little pocket-sized notebook and a pen, but don’t try to get ideas. Of course, you’ll sometimes think of things you want to remember. Taking notes is a way to free your mind — once your idea is down on paper, you’re free to forget about it for the moment.

Walk for longer than fifteen minutes. A half hour to an hour is good. You need to do it long enough to let your mind relax. This is a temporary vacation from our compulsion to do, and it needs to be long enough to have an effect.

On a walk, you get a fresh perspective; you can find solutions to problems; you look at things more clearly. You become calmer, saner and healthier. It’s easier to think because, 1) you have the time to think, 2) there’s nothing else you need to attend to, and 3) your brain is getting more oxygen.

This way of taking a walk is aptly named: It’s good for your constitution — your overall well-being, body and mind. You have a right to some quiet time to yourself, so exercise your right. A haven of peace and sanity awaits you...only a few steps away.

Adam Khan is the author of  Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and Self-Reliance, Translated. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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