“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
Holli-Anne Passmore, a PhD psychology student at the University of British Columbia, says noticing nature will make us happier.
She was lead author of a UBC study that examined the effects of a two-week “intervention” in which researchers asked study participants to document their feelings. They asked one group to document how the nature they came across in their daily routine made them feel.
The study didn’t involve nature walks, but merely examples of nature easily encountered – even in a city – during normal daily life, such as a house plant, birds, a dandelion growing in a crack in the sidewalk, or sun through a window.
A second group documented their feelings when encountering human-made objects. Both groups were asked to take a photo of the object and jot down their feelings. A third group, the control, did neither, living their lives as they had before the study.
The researchers discovered that after the intervention, the nature group had significantly higher levels of positive emotions, elevating experiences and a general sense of connectedness not just to nature, but to other people as well.
Previous studies have already shown that people who live in green-spaces tend to be happier, but this research shows that simply noticing nature in urban settings works too.