How to Choose Wildness Every Day

Posted by: Molly Herber on 4/2/16 8:00 AM

If you’ve spent any time in the wilderness, you know that how you feel there is special. Wilderness isn’t just a space, an empty shoreline or a quiet grove of trees—it’s a state of mind, too.

As much as we’d like to stay in the wilderness and hold on to that feeling, that’s not realistic for most folks. A million things pull us away and make it difficult to head to the wilderness.

For those days when you can’t get to the wilderness, here are a few things you can do to bring a little wildness to your daily routine.

Sleep Outside

Sleeping out in the city Photo by Zach Dischner.

You don't have to go on a big trip to enjoy sleeping outside. Whether it’s in your backyard or just opening all the windows in your home, sleeping outside can capture that sense of exposure that makes sleeping in a tent different than sleeping within four walls. You can up the ante by whipping out your camp stove and cooking outside—or, even easier, just take your dinner outside.

Put Away Your Phone

Phone in the city Photo by Dmitry Ratushny.

Your phone is one of your greatest connections to the world. By letting it go for a while—actually turning it off or leaving it behind when you head out the door—you can imitate the timelessness and solitude of the wilderness. Enjoy not knowing how much time has passed and basing your actions on your internal sense of time rather than your alarm. *Make sure to let friends and family know that you’re going radio-silent so they don’t worry when you don’t respond.

Get Dirty

Muddy trail run Photo from Pixabay.

Being comfortable with dirt and body smells is a much-loved, much hated part of outdoor living. Letting yourself get dirty (ideally doing something fun, like playing around with your kids or going for a run in the rain) and then stay dirty for a bit will get you right back to your wild, dirt-loving self (this doesn’t mean not washing your hands—any adventurer knows you can by hygienic without being squeaky clean).

Take Out Your Headphones

Headphones in flowers Photo by  Sai Kiran Anagani.

Getting wildness in your routine isn’t only about escape. We like wearing headphones because they help us create a bit of distance from our surroundings. But in the wilderness, you’re acutely aware of your surroundings and taking in all the sounds and signals around you. Taking out your headphones as you walk down the street or clean the house lets you tune in to what’s happening around you. It helps you pay attention and appreciate all the mundane aspects of your daily routine.

Plan a Trip

The next adventure Photo by Charlotte Klein.

It’s important to dream about your next adventure and visualize where you want to go. Big trips that actually take you to wilderness take a lot of planning and commitment, so making a habit of preparing for the next trip will make sure that the summer weather doesn’t pass you by.

Need some wildness? We can get you there. Visit our course finder today.


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How the Wilderness Lets Us Be Our Best Selves [Q&A]
Waking Up in the Wilderness
Daily Gratitude: NOLS in the Frontcountry

Molly is a NOLS instructor and writer. She loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 am. When she's not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she's running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming. Follow her on Instagram @mgherber