Exploring Our Sense of Purpose, Joy and Happiness in Nature

Exploring Our Sense of Purpose, Joy and Happiness in Nature - Llb Partnershipgraphic

L.L. Bean is all about inspiring and enabling people to get outside to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being in the outdoors. Like what you see in this advertorial? All products featured in this article are available to buy from L.L. Bean both in store and online now.

We’ve partnered with iconic outdoor clothing brand L.L. Bean, where we visited the Bernese Alps in Switzerland to explore what fuels our love of nature. The Bernese Alps is a deceptive environment in autumn, the images may look warm and sunny, but at high altitude, it was bitterly cold at times, and the weather there can change dramatically in moments. So, clothing really needs to be up to the task. L.L. Bean make hard-wearing, comfortable and very practical outdoor clothing that, let’s face it, looks pretty cool too. Beyond this, they use sustainably sourced and recycled materials in many of their garments. This isn’t just fashion wear, but serious gear for the outdoors: down-fill coats and various tech fabrics will keep you warm, dry and comfortable on the most demanding of trails.

Exploring Our Sense of Purpose, Joy and Happiness in Nature - Pairingone

ID: From left to right.1: Landscape image. Fay and Matt stand to right of frame wearing L.L. Bean. They are surrounded by high altitude autumn landscapes.

Exploring Our Sense of Purpose, Joy and Happiness in Nature - Fayandmattgraphic

What feeds our fascination and love for the outdoors? It’s different for everyone. Some might say it’s a desire to get fitter or to push their limits. Others might say a hike is an opportunity for mental clarity or to take a break from the worries and stresses of day-to-day life.Oftentimes, people can condense what they love about nature into a single sentence or a single activity. That makes for good sound-bites, or snappy social media captions, but we believe the reality for all of us is a more complicated picture.

We’ve enjoyed nature in various ways since we were both children and, in that time, what it’s meant to us and how we’ve related to it has grown, evolved and in some ways, completely changed. But our past experiences don’t leave us, and we think that how we enjoy nature now is a sum-total of many experiences: from feeling sand between our toes as children on a beach, to grudgingly following our parents on hikes as teenagers (and secretly enjoying it), to the first time we stepped on a mountain summit, saw the horizon spread out and felt on top of the world. We have seen and experienced countless sunrises, sunsets, downpours, sandstorms, sunburns, aches, cramps, insect bites, laughter, joy, snowball fights and plunges into cold water. For sure, we haven’t enjoyed all of it, but all of it has fed into how we appreciate our time outdoors.

Sometimes we love to push ourselves. We’ll set out to bag a peak or to complete a long-distance thru-hike over tricky terrain. Other times we seek a different experience entirely: There’s a special joy, we’ve found, in revisiting well-known locations. Familiarity gives you the opportunity to focus on details and experience how the living landscape changes through the seasons. There’s a certain beauty in focussing on the journey rather than the destination sometimes. You learn to make friends with trees, rocks and bends in the river and you see depth and life in the landscape. You start to appreciate how the world around us is truly a connected ecosystem and that the plants and animals we see are all involved in a delicate balancing act of survival, with the smallest insects just as vital to this as the mightiest trees.We’ve come to appreciate a certain contradiction that some of the harshest, most inhospitable places we’ve visited are also the most fragile ecosystems – those that could most easily be lost. Slowing down has given us the opportunity to learn to appreciate conservation – to not just enjoy nature but also to protect it. To try, as best we can, to give something back.

Exploring Our Sense of Purpose, Joy and Happiness in Nature - Pairingtwo

ID: From left to right. 1: Landscape image. Fay and Matt stand central in frame, they are hugging and smiling with out of focus blue hazy/slightly snowy mountain background. 2: Landscape image. Fay and Matt are small in frame hiking a mountain path taking in the scenery. Behind is a tremendous view of snowy mountains and glaciers!

Then there’s that sense of childlike wonder – perhaps we can all remember it from the first time we saw a high mountain or a wild waterfall? That wonder never leaves us – though for a long time, we’d both forgotten all about it – and we experience it when we see how the sun’s rays break over a mountain ridge, how a field of long grass becomes a sea of shadows and flashing light in the breeze, glimpsing a far off mountain hut hidden amongst the snow through binoculars or when we find a paper-thin sheet of ice covering a mountain pool. The audible crunch of fresh snow underfoot or the sensation of soft moss and hard rocks on your skin can, we think, bring you right back to your childhood, when everything you saw was new and full of delight. This is the wonder that fills our dreams with towering peaks and plunging canyons. It brings a smile to our faces when we’re stuck at a desk working on a deadline or when nothing else seems to be going right in our lives. It brings us inspiration and it makes us want to do so much more.

So, the outdoors is a lot of different things for us – as we’re sure it is for many of you too – and so it should be! It’s something that’s always been there for us, even when we think we’ve forgotten about it, and has fed into our life experiences in so many ways. It’s all too easy to lose this in simplification or the pursuit of statistics: how many meters you’ve ascended, how quickly you completed that trail and so forth. There’s nothing wrong with loosing yourself in numbers – it’s fun, in fact – but we think it’s important not to lose track of everything else. The outdoors is a rich tapestry that’s constantly changing, an epic series of novels that’s still being written and a new chance for adventure at every turn – even the familiar ones!

Our love for the outdoors is fuelled in a way that’s unique for all of us. We’d love to hear in the comments what it is that you find so special about your time in nature and what it is that drives you to keep coming back for more?

Exploring Our Sense of Purpose, Joy and Happiness in Nature - Pairingthree

ID: From left to right. 1: Fay is crouched down at a small mountain lake touching thin ice covering with fingers whilst Matt watches. Surrounding them is a mountain background. 2: Fay and Matt stand to the left of the landscape where Fay takes a picture of the scenery. Matt sits on a rock admiring the view. There are snowy mountains and rocks around.