Feb. 1, 2018

In the Beauty of Nature

From the theoretical perspective of the biophilia hypothesis, engaging with beauty in nature helps people meet their need to affiliate with nature, and thus flourish. Individuals who are more connected to nature are presumably having their biophilic needs met to a greater extent than those who are not as connected to nature.

From feeling like one’s life is meaningful to experiencing positive emotions, it appears as though individuals who notice and are moved by beauty in nature are more likely to lead flourishing lives. Kellert proposes that one function of experiencing beauty in nature is the sense of harmony that it provides. Philosophers have similarly noted how a sense of unity or oneness with nature appears to be a common component of aesthetic experiences involving nature. Research supports a link between feelings of self-transcendence and connectedness, which are commonly reported when people experience beauty in nature.

Development of the Engagement with Natural Beauty (EWNB) subscale has helped researchers begin to examine associations between engaging with natural beauty and overall well-being. Initial studies have found that individuals scoring higher on EWNB generally report higher levels of gratitude, satisfaction with life, and self-esteem. This preliminary evidence suggests that engaging with natural beauty may contribute to positive evaluations about life and oneself, and perhaps well-being more broadly.

Nevertheless, the associations between EWNB and wellbeing that emerge in our studies suggest that interventions aimed at increasing awareness and openness to natural beauty could be an attractive avenue for increasing positive functioning and flourishing.

Citation: Capaldi Colin A., Passmore Holli-Anne, Ishii Ryo, Chistopolskaya Ksenia A., Vowinckel Jonte, Nikolaev Evgeni L., and Semikin Gennady I.. Ecopsychology. December 2017, 9(4): 199-211. https://doi.org/10.1089/eco.2017.0008

There is a body of research that supports the findings from this research article I reviewed. So I wonder if not having a connection or much experience in the beauty of nature has an impact on those who may not feel as though they are flourishing in their lives. There is so much strife, discontent, discord and fear among so many people that are not only isolated from nature, they are also isolated from each other. Without a feeling of connectedness, it is easier to be cruel and disrespectful to each other and other living things.  This only further isolates people from each other. Nature sets the pattern and nature flourishes in diverse community- nothing lives in isolation from the web of life as well as the abiotic components of the planet. The aesthetic wonders of nature opens our hearts, fills us with gratitude and prepares us to receive the bounties of living life fully and in communion. There is so much beauty out there, the majesty of the mountains against a clear sky, the sparkle of sunlight on a lake, the call of a kingfisher, the sturdiness of an ancient pine tree, the magical sound of water through a canyon, the wonderment of the night sky, the calmness of the motion of the ocean. Mother Earth invites us to drink it all in, to enjoy her beauty and to learn to flourish in communion with her.