You can never be too healthy, too smart or know yourself too much, so you should take every opportunity to increase your score on those three accounts. Walking barefoot in winter is a nice way to practice all three.
Mindfulness, being present in the now, feeling, listening and looking, paying attention to your surroundings and yourself is a great way to gain insights and to learn.
If you don't go for walks regularly, you should. You should try to be wondrous like a child before the world when walking. Use all your senses and truly take in both details and the whole as if your life depended on it (or at least your degree, or ability to pay rent).
Your internal monologue could be something like this:
-Oh, a bird, how does it fly really? What's that sound; is it the wing tips touching at the top? How can it take off so quickly? Look at it soar! Is that autumn tree beautiful? People say so, do I think that? Yes, but why. It's red, green and yellow. Why is that, I know I heard the explanation recently?
Seek randomness, threats and novelty for increased brain plasticity
To spice things up, I try to take different and random routes when walking, actively identifying what the differences are. I also listen to science podcasts, to make sure I hear completely new, interesting and slightly complicated things. This October and November I have stepped it up yet another notch and have been walking barefoot, wearing just shorts and a t-shirt.
Being underdressed has increased my contact with nature; I feel more, I have to pay attention more in order not to hurt myself. I learn more (about various surfaces, about which body parts need protection the most etc) and not least I harden myself; the soles of my feet, my balance and ankle strength, the amount of brown fat I have, my brain's perception and tolerance of discomfort and so on.
I am sure my brain's plasticity increases even more than it does from "just" walking, observing nature and listening to science. I think all kinds of contrasts, and pseudo-dangers challenge the body and the brain in similarly productive ways. Personally I "overdose" on wasabi, on habanero, on Vindaloo and sauna steam and ice baths - regretting it for a minute and then loving it.
High brain plasticity translates to all other areas of learning. A recent study (this Tuesday?), e.g., showed that playing action games on a computer increased general learning ability in other areas.
Study yourself and enhance your integrity
Going against the grain also means other pay attention to you, which in turn gives you the opportunity to study their reactions. Being the observed is also a little stressful, some like it, some don't, and you get a chance to study your own reactions to being slightly off-centre. Not least, you get to practice your integrity and sense of self.
That finally leads us to today's list of...:
11 things you can learn from walking barefoot in Sweden in November
- Hands are more sensitive - gloves are more important to shoes; I can hardly unlock the door when I get back from a 90-minute walk underdressed
- You practice your integrity - I feel a certain need to prove I'm not a retarded bum but actually a retired hedge fund manager, so I take comfort in the fact that I'm wering a 45k USD watch
- The maximum discomfort from low temperature occurs within a few minutes
- White stones are more slippery than black
- The streets of Stockholm are cleaner than I imagined
- A certain rough sort of blacktop is particularly tough on the skin
- Drain lids are so uncomfortable to walk on that I actively avoid treading on most of them
- The ground temperature on hills is lower - probably an aerodynamic effect that cools the ground
- Small kids get jealous of my apparent freedom, larger kids want to know why - and ask
- Parents get uncomfortable and wish I didn't break the rules they are trying to teach their children
- Feet adapt quickly to not having shoes, hands and underarms not so much
/White Walker Sprezzaturian