The idea of staying in a lodge in Wichita, Kansas, is enough to create images of relaxation. You can imagine yourself waking up to a beautiful sunrise, perhaps with a coffee in hand.
In the late afternoons, you can walk around the property or head to one of the nearby trails. By the evening, you can set up a bonfire or spend time in front of the crackling fireplace.
It’s a home away from home, the ultimate getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. And yet, why are you drawn to it in the first place? Why does it seem that nature calls humans to spend more time with it?
No official or definitive study can answer the question. Most, however, point out to one factor: happiness. People want to be happy. In a survey conducted by YouGov in 2016, Americans wanted to pursue happiness or joy overachievement. Interestingly, the older the person got, the more they craved for it.
There’s also a strong correlation between happiness and the need to feel less stressed. In the same survey, over 43% said that they would want low stress even if it also meant low achievement. Men, who society believed to be better in handling pressure, preferred it as well. It’s the same happiness that drives people to nature.
Planet Ark has been documenting the psychological and emotional benefits of nature-inspired design. According to it, a lot of people like the feeling and the smell of wood because it can:
- Improve their emotional state
- Boost their self-expression
- Decrease their stress levels and its markers such as increased heart rate
Other types of research tend to support these points. For example, the 2018 study by the University of East Anglia highlighted the benefits of forest bathing.
The team found out that those who lived close to natural green spaces, even if they are in urban areas, had lower levels of stress, blood pressure, and heart rate. They also reduced their risks of different chronic diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disorders. The individuals also experienced longer sleep and decreased their odds of having preterm birth or experiencing premature death.
In her interview with the National Geographic, Florence Williams, who wrote The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, talked about dislocation from the outdoors. It merely meant that people today, especially the children, are spending less time in the outdoors than their parents. Individuals these days have a more structured schedule with minimal period dedicated to exploration and creativity.
But when people keep track of what makes them happy, they tend to find out that they are less joyful with work and are the most comfortable when they are with nature, perhaps with family and friends, as well as on vacations.
The love for nature doesn’t grow on everyone, but whether they admit it or not, all desire to be with open spaces once in a while. It’s all because the earth makes humans happy.