What Happens When We Reconnect with NatureBy Kristophe Green, Dacher Keltner | March 1, 2017 | 5 Comments
Research is discovering all the different ways that nature benefits our well-being, health, and relationships.
How nature helps us feel good and do good
The naturalist John Muir once wrote about the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California: “We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” Clearly, he found nature’s awe-inspiring imagery a positive, emotive experience.
But what does the science say? Several studies have looked at how viewing awe-inspiring nature imagery in photos and videos impacts emotions and behavior. For example, in one study participants either viewed a few minutes of the inspiring documentary Planet Earth, a neutral video from a news program, or funny footage from Walk on the Wild Side. Watching a few minutes of Planet Earth led people to feel 46 percent more awe and 31 percent more gratitude than those in the other groups. This study and others like it tell us that even brief nature videos are a powerful way to feel awe, wonder, gratitude, and reverence—all positive emotions known to lead to increased well-being and physical health.
Positive emotions have beneficial effects upon social processes, too—like increasing trust, cooperation, and closeness with others. Since viewing nature appears to trigger positive emotions, it follows that nature likely has favorable effects on our social well-being.
This has been robustly confirmed in research on the benefits of living near green spaces. Read more of this article at this link to the Great Good Science Center newsletter from the University of California, Berkeley