Why does nature make us happy?

Here’s a bit of (light) science. I think it helps to know that what you are doing to improve your life, however small, will make a difference. Believing something will make a positive difference is very powerful. So here goes…

  1. A study by Lyubomirsky* showed that 50% of your happiness is genetic. Your environment makes up 10% and the remaining 40% is the way you think. It’s this 40% which interests me, as I know myself that we can change the way we think. And nature can definitely help us reframe things more positively. By focusing on small wonderful details we can remind ourselves we are part of something bigger! Taken from Freedom to be Happy by Matt Phelan

2. You probably all know about feel-good hormones? Well, nature can help increase them. You can increase levels of serotonin by getting outside in nature and being out in the sunshine. And by celebrating small wins we can boost dopamine. So nature can change our chemistry, pretty cool! Read more about hacking your hormones here.

3. Biophilia is our innate need to engage and connect with nature. Research shows that being in nature can decrease blood pressure and heart rates and increase productivity and creativity. The good news is that being with nature for just two hours a week can have positive benefits.

4. Being in the moment – which means not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – can improve our wellbeing. Savouring nature’s beauty and seasonal changes is a great way to be present. The Mind website has more on this.

Many people have recently given me examples of how nature has helped them, or someone they know. The elderly lady who was fed up and tearful for no reason, and perked up after an hour in her son’s garden. The lady who walks in nature to process emotions around bereavements, and often finds herself near water. Another has suffered a recent bereavement and has found solace in gardening, and in chatting to her neighbour about their gardens each weekend. I was emailed by someone who loves how bluebells come up year after year, reminding her to be resilient, which she takes strength from. Someone else read an earlier blog post and is now using houseplants to give her something to focus on and care for, at a time when her health is challenging.

Whatever is going on in your life nature can be a wonderful comfort and a never-ending source of positivity. Magic moments may be fleeting, but they all add up to something wondrous. You just need to look hard enough and leave space around you to let it in.


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