Fresh air, sunshine, and nature all around you can help you enjoy your life and let you live it longer. It should be a "no duh" situation. If you don't see the reasoning, there are now studies to back it up. Living in the country, or just time spent in nature, can make life better.

One rainy night a couple of years ago, I was driving home from work. As I turned off the big highway and on to the little country road I live on, I came down a hill to find a surprise in the dark. At the bottom of the hill there was a gigantic limb that had fallen from one of the many trees lining the road.

As I came up on it I had to suddenly swerve because a car came into my lane to try and pass the limb. Both of us were lucky, because we could not see each other past the enormous limb. After the shock of the moment passed, I hurried home to park my car and gather a flash light and ax. My brother and his fiance were there at the time and offered to help me clear the debris from the road. We walked down in the storm to find that I was not the only one that saw the danger in the situation. A group of my neighbors, my family, and I began the risky business of cleaning up the road. Just as the limb was getting too thick for any of us to cut anymore, we saw lights coming down the road.

Another neighbor was trucking down to us in his tractor. We flagged down cars to stop as the man used his tracker to push the remaining bits of the limb off of the road. Everyone left joking about how we, "Got her done!"

This is not something you will normally find inside the city limits. Sure, people will occasionally help each other in the big city. But, you will find that more people out in the country are closely tied and helpful. It is almost as if we live in our own little world, like a community tightly woven. Living on the outskirts of town, you find that everyone knows each other and are happy to help.

Another time I was helped by a neighbor is again at night headed home from work. A car had crashed into a tree right before my mail box and the hazard lights had gone out. I would not have seen this abandoned car if not for my neighbor that sat with her lights on until I came home to show me the car. If she had not been sweet enough to do that, I would have hit the car causing who knows what kind of damage. As we sat there together waiting for the police and a tow truck to show up, we talked about how being so far out means we are on our own.

It takes the police, fire trucks, and electric companies so long to come to our aid. Sometimes you will need to use a neighbor's washer and dryer because the electric company won't get there in time to dry your clothes before they mold. The police will just leave a car that crashed to go handle something in the city. My neighbors and I have put out the grass fires threatening our homes too many times to count. The fire trucks always show up after we have already saved our homes and families.

I remember vividly the day my brother needed an ambulance. Our neighbor came to help my sister hold the wound and took me to her house as my brother and sister went to meet our parents at the hospital. When we came home, there were cookies and offerings of aid waiting on the doorstep.

Have you ever had a neighbor do that for you, or you do something of the like for them?

It is not just the community and brotherhood that you are missing out on. Have you ever stepped outside on a nice night to stargaze? If you live under the pink haze of Tyler's light pollution, I know you haven't. There is nothing like sitting on your porch with the lights out to see the sky so bright with stars. The crickets chirping along with the occasional coyote howling. The breeze whipping through the trees, making a hush sound as it cools your face. During the late summer months having the added twinkle of mass numbers of lightening bugs. There is nothing better to calm you down from a stressful day than that experience.

Studies are coming out now that show this kind of peaceful is one of the sources of a happier and healthier life. J. D. Hughes of Natural News explains, "people who are born and raised in big cities have more depression, more anxiety and a higher incidence of schizophrenia, scientists say." Also, "... folks do better when they are around a lot of green spaces. Such exposure reduces stress, makes us less vulnerable to depression and boosts health overall." The amygdala, the section of the brain that controls mood and emotions, is more active in city dwellers. Another section of the brain affected is the cingulate cortexes, they help control stress. So, science has proved that the key to life longevity is being out in the open air amidst green grasses and trees.

I realize that living in the country is not for everyone. Even though Texas is full of beautiful land, not all of us live up to the stereotype that every texan is a cowboy or girl from the country. But, because of this abundance of nature, we have a lot of parks. If you live in the city and are feeling outdoorsy, go to one of them. Get out in the fresh air, read a book, push your child on the swing, run a little, or make a mud pie.

This world we live in is too gorgeous to miss because we were watching the Jersey Shore and scared of a mosquito bite. Go to the country people, live a better life.

If you can't make it out today to the country, here are some of the pictures I have taken out around where I live. Can you already feel the stress melting away?