07/21/2014 08:28 am ET Updated Sep 20, 2014

7 Reasons Why Spending Time in Nature Does Wonders for the Soul

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As far back as I can remember, I always loved spending time outdoors. When I was a child, my grandmother used to take me for little "nature walks," where I would collect interesting things, like acorns and leaves, in a little pail I brought with me. During my school days, I frequently did my homework outside in the nicer weather. When I got my driver's license, I loved finding different parks and nature preserves to go for walks. Eventually, I realized that these times actually had a profound impact on the way I view life.

I'm a huge proponent of spending time outdoors, and here are a few reasons why it can be beneficial:

1) There is no societal influence. If you found yourself suddenly transported into the woods with nothing surrounding you but nature, you would likely have no idea what year, or even century, it was. You might not even know what continent you're on! Since teleporting is unlikely to happen any time soon, try taking note of this phenomenon next time you go for a hike or stroll outdoors. There are no trends, influences, or expectations, and you are free to ponder life in its purest form. It can be very spiritual to spend some time removed from anything man-made.

2) It is a reminder that you are not infinite. Step outside, and you'll see that the life cycle is all around you. Plants and animals live and die to make room for the next generation. Though humans are a completely different life form, we are no exception to that rule. When we spend time in nature, we are reminded that life is fleeting -- and sometimes we need that perspective in order to remember what truly matters. (And to remind us how small we are in the grand scheme of things.) It might be scary to realize that nothing is permanent, but perhaps that's what makes life so precious.

3) It has a calming effect. That's why people love views of the water, sunrises and sunsets, mountain ranges, etc.

4) There's always more to learn about our planet. Just when you think you've seen it all, spend some time in the outdoors and realize how little you actually know about this planet we call home. How many species can you name? Do you know anything about their life cycle? There's always, always more to learn when it comes to the natural world -- and a lot that we haven't even discovered yet!

5) It teaches us about living in harmony. Hundreds of species of plants and animals can live amongst each other in one small area. This is the way the eco-system is meant to work -- each fragment contributes to a greater balance as they coexist. Humans could certainly stand to take note.

6) It is a reminder that everything looks perfect from far away. A wave crashing on the sand might look beautiful to us as we watch it from afar, but how do you think those little crabs feel when they get stuck in it? Similarly, when we appreciate the beauty of the Autumn leaves, we don't think about the fact that those brilliant colors signify that the leaves are dying. These lessons can be applied to our lives, as well. You never know what kind of pain someone is hiding beneath a seemingly happy smile; you never know about the parts of people's lives that you can't see.

7) It is a reminder that chaos is a part of life. You don't even need to be outside to understand this one. Just watch a thunderstorm from your window to remember that while nature appears to be so peaceful, there is mayhem brewing at any given moment. Chaos is inevitable, and life is not always going to fall into place seamlessly. While the messy parts of life may not always be resolved positively, there is always a chance you'll find a rainbow at the end of the storm.