Connect With Nature
[Level 3: Pinnacle]
Nature and children
In September 2012, The Children and Nature Worldwide Summary of Research was released at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea. It was a joint effort by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Commission on Education and Communication (IUCN- CEC) and the Children & Nature Network (C&NN).
The report indicated a disturbing worldwide trend: that children are not connected enough to nature. Its authors provide critical reasons for reconnecting people with nature: “Nature-based experiences help to offset children’s increasingly sedentary lifestyles with associated negative consequences such as obesity, diminished creativity, attention disorder problems and, most important to the worldwide conservation community, a lack of experience to prepare them to care for the world’s natural environments for generations to come.”
In Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, C&NN cofounder Richard Louv asserts that exposure to nature supports healthy development in youths and also encourages a lifelong commitment to caring for Earth.
Does nature make us happy?
As discussed above, there is a growing disconnect between our natural and cognitive worlds. The amount of time spent in nature by most people is diminishing. In the meantime, research indicates that our relationship with nature may be closely linked to our happiness.
Zelenski and Nisbet researched the link between nature and happiness and whether happiness can be generated by nature alone, independent of other things that might make us happy (like music and friends).
They concluded that:
- We are emotionally connected to the natural world and it is distinct from other psychological connections
- Happiness can be predicted by nature relatedness and this can be observed regardless of other psychological factors.
- People that have a psychological connection with nature are more likely to have a view of nature that promotes the sustainability of the environment.
A 2005 study by the American Institutes for Research found that kids who learn in outdoor classrooms improve their science scores by 27 percent.
This has led to an increased demand for more research in eco-psychology. Beyond the impact on child development, outdoor education also affects the future of our planet, because it results in Earth’s inhabitants feeling more connected to nature, which increases the likelihood that they will live a sustainable lifestyle and support environmental causes.
There are many ways to connect with nature. I strongly suggest meditating in nature. At the very least, sit still and immerse yourself in nature without distraction. Use all of your senses and powers of perception to absorb the true essence of all that is in the environment surrounding you.