David Heinemeier Hansson

December 14, 2023

The early bird sees the sunrise

I’ve found that you eventually get bored or at least used to every form of material trapping you can buy. Cars, watches, cameras, computers, whatever. It’s not that fancy stuff stops being nice, but it does stop being wow. That’s the essence of the hedonic treadmill. But do you know what never gets old? Nature.

And I mean nature in the broadest possible sense. The evening light. The rustling of the leaves. A pair of eagles circling above your head. A rock that’s been in the same place for thousands of years. The colors of a beautiful sunset or sunrise. Yes, even touching grass with your toes.

If you literally stop to smell the flowers, you’ll never stop being wowed by the awesomeness of this planet. That’s been the most enduring gift of moving back to California. We live in the wilderness here. In Denmark, we lived smack in the middle of Copenhagen. Which is a delight all of its own, but on my ultimate scorecard, a (far) secondary one to nature.


This is the sight that greeted me as I stepped into my home office this morning about half an hour before sunrise. I’ve seen a sunrise like this in Malibu a million times before, but it never, ever grows old. I’m still struck by the kind of life-affirming wow that only the spectacle of nature is capable of.

A few years ago, I remember reading about forest bathing. The idea that spending time walking in nature lowered blood pressure and stress significantly more than walking the same distance in a city. I completely believe it.

It’s become a cliche, “touch grass”, but it’s also true. Your life will literally be longer, healthier, and happier, if you let nature wash over you regularly.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m such a fan of remote work. Imagine taking that hour or two of commuting – which, when done in rush hour by car, is perhaps one of the most blood pressure and stress raising activities known to man! – and trading that in for a walk in the forest or the garden or any form of wilderness.


About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.