Spending time outdoors is a direct route to happiness, say researchers.

A new study has found that simply taking time to notice the nature around you will increase your happiness and well-being.

Holli-Anne Passmore, a PhD psychology student at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan campus, recently published research examining the connection between taking a moment to look at something from the natural environment and personal well-being.

Stopping to smell (and photograph) the roses

For two weeks participants were asked to document how nature they encountered in their daily routine made them feel.

They took a photo of the item that caught their attention and jotted down a short note about their feelings in response to it.

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Other participants tracked their reaction to human-made objects, took a photo and jotted down their feelings, while a third group did neither.

“This wasn’t about spending hours outdoors or going for long walks in the wilderness. This is about the tree at a bus stop in the middle of a city and the positive effect that one tree can have on people.” – Holli-Anne Passmore

Passmore explains that examples of nature could be anything not human-built: a house-plant, a dandelion growing in a crack in a sidewalk, birds, or sun through a window.

“This wasn’t about spending hours outdoors or going for long walks in the wilderness,” Passmore says. “This is about the tree at a bus stop in the middle of a city and the positive effect that one tree can have on people.”

Passmore says she was overwhelmed by the response of her 395 study participants.

  • More than 2 500 photos and descriptions of emotions were submitted.
  • The impact that simply noticing emotional responses to nearby nature had on personal well-being and their prosocial orientation – a willingness to share resources and the value they placed on community.

“The difference in participants’ well-being – their happiness, sense of elevation, and their level of connectedness to other people, not just nature – was significantly higher than participants in the group noticing how human-built objects made them feel and the control group.”

Source: University of British Columbia Okanagan campus via www.sciencedaily.com

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