Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Nature Makes Us Nicer People, Says New Study

Here's evidence that it's not just a figment of my imagination that my weekly 5+ mile hikes are crucial for keeping me happy:

Paying attention to the natural world not only makes you feel better, it makes you behave better, finds a new study to be published October 1 in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

"Stopping to experience our natural surroundings can have social as well as personal benefits," says Richard Ryan, coauthor and professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester. While the salubrious effects of nature are well documented, from increasing happiness and physical health to lowering stress, this study shows that the benefits extend to a person's values and actions.

Exposure to natural as opposed to man-made environments leads people to value community and close relationships and to be more generous with money, find Ryan and his team of researchers at the University of Rochester.

Read Treehugger's summary... 

P.S.  A couple of readers have asked me about the photo.  It's a picture I took of back in September of 1995 when I was doing some work for The Nature Conservancy's New Mexico Natural Heritage Program down on the Gray Ranch.  The photo is of the Animas Range, about 20 miles north of the Mexican border down in New Mexico's 'boot heel'.  Once driving down the road heading south from Animas, a jaguarundi streaked by just in front of my car...  On another day, I could swear that we saw a Mexican Wolf running along the Clanton-Douglas road.  The cowboys said they were out there, but just weren't tellin' anybody...

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