I am deep into The Nature Fix. This 2017 book by Outside Magazine contributor Florence Williams provides a breezy way to kick yourself into higher gear: get outside. No, really, just get outside!
Her book is twelve chapters and an epilogue all about experiences in nature that make people better: calmer, happier, more resilient, and maybe more human.
Her writing style is clear and energetic, and she does a good job interspersing her own experiences into what she is reporting about. Things I’ve learned so far:
- The affinity of people toward nature has a name, biophilia, or love of life. It’s why we like to walk among trees, and why children want to hold teddy bears.
- There are on-going research efforts in several countries designed to study and quantify the specific impact of natural experiences on human physiology. Lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and many more effects turn natural experiences in the woods or waters into legitimate treatment options for many people suffering in various ways even from deep depression and thoughts of self-harm.
- Japan has the third highest rate of suicide of all nations. 65% of Japan is forested, yet the population, so highly urban, must make special effort to visit.
- The single-most suicidal nation? South Korea, where one of the most extensive nature reserves may turn out to be the DMZ. It’s two-and-a-half miles wide and runs the entire width of their country, yet has been off-limits to exploration for half a century.
- According to one researcher (Ian Alcock) the three steps to human happiness boil down to, “get married, get a job, and live near the coast.” He isn’t talking about being wealthy enough for a beachfront villa as his studies controlled for differences in income. Simple proximity to water seems to have a protective effect against the slings and arrows of modern life.