Why do we find the beauty of nature so alluring?
A warm sunrise with glistening dew. Vibrant wildflower meadows. A dancing butterfly. The sight of a roaring waterfall or babbling brook with deep mossy green banks. These are just a morsel of the delectable sights nature offers to us. So many of us find views of mountains, deep green forests or turquoise waters so deeply captivating. Why? It all comes down to our own evolution. Something deeply rooted in our species unconscious. An inner knowing of truth.
Last year, I spoke with psychologist/neuroscientist, Dr. Ian Frampton of Exeter University about the phenomenon. We discussed the effects nature has on the human brain and the findings are astounding! His studies involved measuring different kinds of neurological patterns on subjects who were given images of nature to look at vs those who were given images of urbanized landscapes. What Dr. Frampton and his team found pointed to extraordinary evidence that our brains may be hardwired to feel at peace and tranquil in nature. Conversely, human brains may be struggling to keep up with ever changing landscapes, as we turn more towards urbanization which leads to harmful feelings such as confusion and angst. The findings are incredibly significant given how rapidly unnatural environments are enveloping us everyday. Urban environments may actually be stealing our sense of peace and belonging, fueling a life of unease, whether we are aware of this or not. One who spends more time communing with nature is likely to have healthier neurological activity as nature tends to highlight beneficial aspects of our neurobiology.
Basically what is happening is that even though humans may appear to be adjusted to urbanization, evolutionarily our brains haven’t caught up with more natural or healthy responses to such prevalent environments. To our animal brains, these environments just don’t make sense and may actually be harmful for our well-being and overall health.
Reflecting on this I wanted to share a compilation of some of my favorite images of nature with you. I would also like to encourage you to seek out aspects of nature you find beautiful today nearest to your home. No need to take a photo necessarily, just spend some time looking at something beautiful without trying to think too much about what you are looking at. It could be a landscape, a soaring bird, a forest, a tree or the sky, anything that is devoid of manmade minutia. When you find a sense of peace fills your being, sit with this feeling for a while and recognize the benefit you are receiving.
We belong in that state, as part of a healthy, thriving landscape. An environment that supports not only our livelihoods with clean water, air and nutrition, but our psychological well-being as well. I believe when we see a natural and healthy landscape, a deeply rooted knowing tells us that, what we are actually looking at, is home.