A Natural, Underutilized & Free Happiness Secret



Examining The Science of Nature + Happiness

Today’s Hap is simple: Spend time in nature.

If all you have is a path, go for a walk outside.

If you have a trail to hike, a river to kayak, a lake to swim in, a rock to climb, a wave to ride, a mountain to bike or ski, so much the better.

It does not take much—as Henri Matisse said, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”

The Costs of Artificial Lifestyles

The modern human spends more and more of our time staring at a screen, despite cross cultural research hinting at deep health and happiness costs of artificial environments—ranging from cognitive impairment to depression. [2]

While certain television and digit media programs have been shown to be beneficial, [3] the costs of our digital immersion include disruptions of mood, sleep, and diurnal rhythms, short-term impairment of attention and cognition, long-term reduced academic performance in the young and greater cognitive decline in the elderly. [4]

Even the noise of a large city can produce negative consequences in our happiness and health. [5] Yet spending time in nature can give a much needed rest from noise pollution and it have positive restorative effects. [6]

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

Massive Benefits of Time Spent in Nature

“Multiple new fields—such as diverse schools of ecology, as well as evolutionary, environmental, and eco- psychologies—argue for an intimate and inescapable link between mental health and the natural environment (Esbjorn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009).” [7]

And while the specific psychotherapeutic benefits of spending nature deserve more attention, spending time in nature has been shown to “reduce symptoms of stress, depression, and ADHD,” [8] foster community benefits,” and improve “cognitive, attentional, emotional, spiritual, and subjective well-being.” [9]

Studies have shown extra benefits in specific populations—office workers, immigrants, hospital patients, and prisoners.[10] And hospital patients with a view of nature have better outcomes, including going home sooner. [11]

So take a moment to get out in nature, and see how your mood changes.

He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature. -Socrates

[1] Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological Science, 19, 1207–1212. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02225.x

[2] Buss, D. M. (2000). The evolution of happiness. American Psychologist,55, 15–23. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.15

[3] Fostering altruism (Mares &Woodard, 2005; Preiss, Gayle, Burrell, Allen & Bryant, 2006); Digital Youth Project increasing children’s psychological and social skills (Ito et al., 2008).

[4] Anthes, E. (2009). Building around the mind. Scientific American Mind, 20, 52–59. doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0409-52;

Higgins, S., Hall, E., Wall, K., Woolner, P., & McCaughey, C. (2005). The impact of school environments: A literature review.Retrieved from http://www.cfbt.com/PDF/91085.pdf;

Ku¨ller, R., Ballal, S., Laike, T., Mikellides, B., & Tonello, G. (2006). The impact of light and colour on psychological mood: A cross-cultural study of indoor work environments. Ergonomics, 49, 1496 –1507. doi: 10.1080/00140130600858142

[5] Ku¨ller, R., Ballal, S., Laike, T., Mikellides, B., & Tonello, G. (2006). The impact of light and colour on psychological mood: A cross-cultural study of indoor work environments. Ergonomics, 49, 1496 –1507. doi:10.1080/00140130600858142

[6] Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological Science, 19, 1207–1212. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02225.x

[7] Walsh, Roger. (2011). Eight Therapeutic Lifestyle Change. American Psychologist. http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-66-7-579.pdf

[8] Taylor, A. F., Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (2001). Coping with ADD:The surprising connection to green play settings. Environment andBehavior, 33, 54 –77. doi:10.1177/00139160121972864

[9] Ho, C.-H., Payne, L., Orsega-Smith, E., & Godby, G. (2003). Parks, recreation, and public health. Parks & Recreation, 38(4), 18, 20 –27

[10] Maller C., Townsend M., Pryor A., Brown P. and St Leger L. (2005) “Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations”. Health Promotion International 21: 45-54, December.

[11] Devlin, A., & Arneill, A. (2003). Health care environments and patient outcomes: A review of the literature. Environment and Behavior, 35, 665– 694. doi:10.1177/0013916503255102

Image: Some rights reserved by Pevel Petros

Published First on DailyHap.com

About Jordan
Jordan Myska Allen is a lover of life, entrepreneur, Course in Miracles student, happy person, deep thinker, friend, Integral aficionado and constantly questioning everything he identifies with—and might put into a biography. He acts as a psychological, spiritual, and professional consultant, writes about how to be happy for DailyHap.com, and practices applied integral thinking.

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