Get Your Daily Fix Yet?
Even a Short Walk Outside Can Make Us Happier
Scientists are now becoming very aware of what we who live in the North Country have known all along: being outside is good for you.
Not just for physical fitness (we knew that, too). But for mood, attention span, even kindness toward others.
A book published this week examines the research and reports that in numerous studies, peoples’ moods and sense of well-being was elevated by being outside. And they didn’t have to do anything epic – one study found that people who gazed up at tall trees for just one minute behaved more helpfully to others than people who looked at an unremarkable building.
The reason, explains author Florence Williams, is that people experience “momentary awe.” That feeling of being taken away from your own concerns, being part of something bigger, and the stately calm of big trees. All this has an effect on our brains.
The book is The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative (Norton, 2017). Williams surveys a range of work that shows the effect of even small doses of nature on our moods and sense of self, but also “our ability to think – to remember things, plan, create, daydream, and focus.”
In general, Williams wrote in a recent essay in the Wall Street Journal, “the more time you spend in nature, the better you will do on measures of vitality, wellness, and restoration.”
However, not all the news is good. Researchers are also finding a vicious cycle of people spending less time outdoors and more on social media, shopping, etc., thus not feeling the positive effects of outdoor time, and thus valuing the outdoors and nature less and less. And presumably, becoming less kind, less attentive, and less creative.
We’re blessed here to have so many places we can enjoy outside. Let’s keep it that way!