Happiness at work

Get outside to make better decisions

Nature and Decision-Making | Dr. Will Ramey

Nature and Decision-Making | Dr. Will Ramey 800 600 OnTheStacks
Get outside to make better decisions
Research Back Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.

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The Top Five Benefits of Being Outdoors and How It Enhances Decision-Making Skills

I’ve had days where I go from building to building, meeting to meeting, and only see the light of day through the occasional window. By the end of the day, my mind is fuzzy, my frustrations run high, and I don’t want to make any more decisions. Unfortunately, my role requires a high cognitive load. One way to enhance decision-making is to get outdoor exposure.

In our increasingly fast-paced and digitally connected world, it’s easy to overlook the simple yet profound benefits of spending time outdoors. From scenic walks in nature to engaging in outdoor activities, immersing ourselves in the natural world offers numerous advantages for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Moreover, studies suggest that being outdoors can significantly enhance our decision-making abilities. In this article, we will explore the top five benefits of spending time outdoors and how it contributes to becoming a better decision maker.

Reduced Stress and Enhanced Cognitive Function:

Stepping out into nature provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, allowing us to unwind and reduce stress levels. Exposure to natural environments has been shown to lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and a calmer state of mind. When stress is reduced, cognitive function improves, enabling clearer thinking, increased focus, and better decision-making skills.

Improved Mental Clarity and Creativity:

The outdoor environment stimulates our senses, providing a refreshing change from the often sterile and monotonous indoor settings. Spending time outdoors exposes us to diverse stimuli, such as fresh air, natural sounds, and vibrant colors, which can enhance mental clarity and spark creativity. These factors contribute to improved cognitive flexibility, enabling us to think outside the box, explore alternative perspectives, and make more innovative decisions.

Energizing Body and Mind through Physical Activity:

Outdoor activities offer more than just an opportunity to embrace nature; they inspire movement and exercise. Regular physical activity increases blood circulation, optimizing oxygen flow to the brain, and releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers. As we elevate our physical activity levels, our energy soars, providing a valuable boost to our decision-making capabilities. Scientific evidence reveals that those who engage in outdoor exercise regularly display sharper cognitive skills, improved memory retention, and enhanced problem-solving abilities.

The Power of Sunlight: Illuminating Decision-Making Potential:

Sunlight is not just a radiant source of warmth; it also bestows us with vital vitamin D. This essential nutrient plays a central role in regulating brain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which profoundly impact our mood and emotional stability. Research suggests that insufficient vitamin D levels contribute to cognitive impairment and increased vulnerability to depression. By embracing the outdoors and embracing natural sunlight, we can optimize our vitamin D levels, supporting the neural processes crucial for sound decision-making.

Heightened Connection with Nature and Increased Intuition:

Nature has a remarkable way of connecting us with the world around us and fostering a sense of mindfulness. Being outdoors provides an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the natural environment, which can inspire introspection and self-reflection. This connection with nature enhances our ability to tap into our intuition and gut feelings, essential components of effective decision-making. By trusting our instincts and aligning with the wisdom of the natural world, we can make decisions that are more authentic and aligned with our values.

Finding ways to get outdoors takes a little coordination and planning. Here are three ways you can be more intentional to get outdoors and improve, not only your health, but your decision-making.

1. Incorporate Outdoor Meetings or Walking Discussions:

One effective way for leaders to leverage the benefits of being outdoors is by incorporating outdoor meetings or walking discussions into their work routine. Instead of confining meetings to stuffy conference rooms, consider taking your team outside to a nearby park, garden, or even a rooftop terrace. Walking meetings not only provide a change of scenery but also stimulate physical movement, which can enhance blood flow and cognitive function. This dynamic environment encourages open dialogue, creativity, and a more relaxed atmosphere, fostering better decision-making by capitalizing on the benefits of the outdoors.

2. Encourage Outdoor Breaks and Mindfulness Practices:

Leaders can create a culture that values and promotes outdoor breaks and mindfulness practices within the workplace. Encourage employees to take short breaks outside during the day, whether it’s for a breath of fresh air, a walk around the block, or simply enjoying a few moments of solitude in a nearby green space. These outdoor breaks allow individuals to recharge, reduce stress, and enhance mental clarity, which in turn can lead to improved decision-making skills. Additionally, leaders can introduce mindfulness practices such as guided meditation sessions outdoors, further amplifying the benefits of the natural environment in nurturing focused attention and presence. How Mindfulness Helps You Lead | Dr. Will Ramey | OnTheStacks

3. Organize Outdoor Team-Building Activities:

To foster a collaborative and innovative work environment, leaders can organize outdoor team-building activities. These activities can range from adventure challenges, such as hiking, rock climbing, or canoeing, to more relaxed gatherings like picnics or team sports. Outdoor team-building experiences not only promote camaraderie and trust among team members but also provide an opportunity for individuals to step outside their comfort zones, adapt to new situations, and think creatively. By engaging in outdoor activities together, teams can strengthen their bonds, enhance communication, and develop better decision-making dynamics that can translate into the workplace.

Get Outside to Make Better Decisions

The benefits of spending time outdoors extend far beyond physical fitness and relaxation. Engaging with nature provides a myriad of advantages, including reduced stress levels, improved cognitive function, enhanced creativity, increased energy, and a heightened sense of intuition. By embracing the outdoors, we can cultivate our decision-making skills, making more informed choices in our personal and professional lives. So, next time you’re faced with a decision, consider stepping outside and allowing the power of nature to guide you toward the best possible outcome.

Looking for a personal coach to help you strengthen your self-awareness and navigate leading people? Let’s talk! Connect with me on LinkedIn Dr. William Ramey | LinkedIn

Interested in having me facilitate a leadership or team development workshop for your organization? Reach out or checkout my website: Will Ramey Leadership & Team Dynamic Workshop

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Happiness and Leadership

Happiness and Leadership | Dr. Will Ramey

Happiness and Leadership | Dr. Will Ramey 800 600 OnTheStacks

Research Backed Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.

Happiness at work pays dividends for leaders and teams in the form of improved communication, decision-making, and ultimately productivity. We share the connection between happiness and leadership and how leaders can invite in more happiness through practicing gratitude, giving recognition, and reflective positive writing. Let’s get to it!

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The Slippery Slope

You’re leading a team, working long hours, solving complex problems, and then you hit the slump. Resource cuts, people moving on, and you get passed over for that promotion. We’ve all probably been there at some point in time, I know I have. Your happiness tank at work is on empty and now it’s coming out in negative ways. You become short with your team members, your give o’shiz meter is pegged, and you begin to spiral only seeing the negative.

I’ve hit that wall at work where I find myself just going through the motions, not giving my 100% best, and I began to question myself. You’re not alone and the good news is by engaging in a little positive psychology you can turn this around quickly.

The Link between Happiness and Leadership

Studies have shown that happiness at work not only raises engagement and satisfaction levels but business outcomes such as productivity and task accuracy increase too. Leaders have such an impact on how their team operates. Happy leaders, setting the conditions for happy team members will yield positive productive results. Happy leaders are more effective because of the effect on various aspects of leadership, such as decision-making, communication, and motivation.

Think about the jobs you’ve held and the teams you’ve led where you’ve been the happiest. I am willing to bet, they’ve been the most rewarding experiences. For me, it was when I was leading my crew as a Space Operations Officer. We were cohesive, built strong bonds, laughed at work, and knocked it out of the park!

Happiness Comes from Within

Holding a variety of leadership positions in my career has been rewarding and stressful. Some days were definitely tougher than others. I found myself on the verge of burnout, yet some positions, like my Space Crew, were energy giving. I needed to learn why and discovered that happiness comes from within. It takes practice.

Reflecting on the link between happiness and leadership recently led me to a conversation with Ashish Kothari, Founder of The Happiness Squad. Ashish is on a mission to launch a happiness revolution touching a billion+ lives over the next 20 years and help people live with more joy, health, love and meaning. Our conversation reminded me that leaders can find meaning in their work and avoid the downward spiral by incorporating small habits in their day.

If you are interested in taking a deep dive into proven practices to help you overcome stress and reframe your mindset to lead at your best, pick up a copy of Hardwired for Happiness. Read on to see how happiness impacts leadership and three simple steps to improve your happiness at work.

Tap the Photo or link below to grab a copy of Ashish’s Hardwired for Happiness book!

Hardwired for Happiness - Ashish Kothari

Hardwired for Happiness: 9 Proven Practices to Overcome Stress and Live Your Best Life: Ashish Kothari

Impact on Decision Making

One of the main ways that happiness impacts leadership is through decision-making. Happy leaders tend to be more confident and optimistic, which allows them to make better decisions. They are less likely to be swayed by fear or uncertainty, and they tend to be more resilient in the face of challenges.

Additionally, happy leaders are better able to see the big picture and take a strategic view of a situation, which allows them to make more informed decisions. Leading my Space Crew was challenging, and the work was highly technical. We heavily relied on each other to make complex decisions and creatively solve problems. The camaraderie we built paid us back during execution of our job.

Impact on Communication

Another way that happiness impacts leadership is through communication. Happy leaders tend to be more approachable and easier to talk to, which helps them to build stronger relationships with their team members. They are more likely to be able to establish trust and rapport with others, which allows them to communicate more effectively.

Additionally, happy leaders are better able to empathize with others, which helps them to understand the perspectives of their team members and to provide more effective guidance and support. My Space Crew was very junior. Most of them were fresh out of the schoolhouse and this was their first assignment. We made time to do fun team building activities together both on and off duty. We built bonds through positive experiences, and it led to higher trust and clearer communication during our operations.

Impact on Inspiration

Lastly, happiness also plays a role in inspiration. Happy leaders tend to be more energized and engaged, which allows them to inspire their team members. When a leader is happy, the whole team seems to be more productive, more innovative, and more committed to the goals of the organization. Happy leaders lead by example and their positive attitude towards their work and their team creates a more positive work environment that in turn, leads to a more engaged and inspired team. This is explained by social learning theory and trickle-down effects.

Simply put, team leaders can set the tone for the day. Knowing this, I did my best to show up each and every day to set an uplifting tone, checking in on my crew, finding the positive, and starting the day on a positive note no matter what challenges lay ahead.

How to Improve Your Happiness

Happiness comes from within. Self-awareness and connection to your inner voice are important aspects of improving happiness. Here are three effective practices that leaders can use to improve their happiness and in turn, their leadership.

  • Writing down three new things you are grateful for each day
  • Taking 3-5 mins to focus on your breath throughout the day
  • At the close of the day writing two emails giving recognition to a team member or peer

I cherish the time I spent with my Space Crew. It was one of the happiest leadership experiences I’ve had in my career. Happiness and leadership are closely connected, and the more happiness a leader experiences, the more happiness their team can experience. Let’s spark that change and watch what happens.

Reach out to me on LinkedIn Dr. William Ramey | LinkedIn

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