Seven Reasons Why Paddling Makes You a Better Person | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Seven Reasons Why Paddling Makes You a Better Person Photo: Ryan Creary

When you are through with self-help books, give these suggestions a shot.

You’ll be happier

Spending time in nature makes us feel more alive—and that’s a good thing. Numerous studies have linked exposure to nature with increased energy and a heightened sense of wellbeing. “Nature is fuel for the soul,” reports University of Rochester psychology professor, Richard Ryan. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.”

You’ll make do with less

When you have to carry your possessions with you, you’re forced to bring less. It’s freeing to discover how little you need to survive and what can be achieved with the bare minimum. Leave digital distractions, consumerism and vanity at home—a PFD, canoe and paddle is the price of admission to adventure. Bring a backpack carrying shelter and food to extend your exploration for days. You’ll discover the things that really matter—and I’ll bet it’s not watching HBO on a big screen.

You’ll disconnect to reconnect

Sometimes paradise is just a paddle stroke away. Literally and figuratively, pull away from the shore and feel lighter, breathe easier. You don’t need to go on an epic expedition to forget your troubles (though it helps)—on the water, deadlines don’t seem so pressing and day-to-day concerns don’t seem so heavy. A small boat on a big body of water has a way of putting things into their proper perspective.

You’ll be thankful

Indoor plumbing never seemed as miraculous as after returning from a two-week wilderness trip in the height of bug season. Climate control? Covered areas larger than 36 square feet? Drinking water on demand? Hot water on demand? And it’s not just the modern conveniences back home you’ll find new appreciation for—as anyone who’s ever been reduced to tears of gratitude by a simple hot cuppa on dry land after a grueling day understands.

You’ll work as a team

Tandem canoeing requires a certain amount of skillful communication— there’s a reason some call the canoe
 a divorce boat. Yet, four arm s
are better than two, especially
when working in tandem. Canoe
tripping allows for practicing interpersonal skills, like leadership
and teamwork. And you’ll get
better at clearly expressing yourself after your partner repeatedly directs you into the wrong eddy. (“Which rock are you talking about?!”) Healthy group dynamics are their own reward—nothing beats the camaraderie created by a happy, functioning team. Best friends forever.

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You’ll push your limits

There will be heat, and there will be cold, there
will be rain and wind—there will be miles, and maybe sore muscles. Equipment may break down and require ingenuity to fix. Conditions could deteriorate and force you to draw on years of experience to manage. Boundaries will be pushed, and comfort zones expanded. It’s in these places that we learn most about ourselves and grow.

You’ll learn acceptance

Sometimes, that storm will continue unabated for days—and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Get used to it. 


This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Canoeroots Magazine. For more great content, click here and subscribe to Canoeroot’s print and digital editions, or click here to read the current issue.


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