Quantifying Nature’s Dosage

      Frequent rains and gusty winds have deposited nature’s treasures from the trees, on my driveway (see below). Its lovely to share them in this blog.

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Top: Winged seeds of Red Maple
Right: Baby leaves and flowers of mighty Oak

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They would have fit perfectly in my second book titled Nature Inspired Creativity. While my book demonstrates how nature inspired me to be creative, recently I read a book that explains the science behind this phenomenon and even quantifies how much nature is needed by humans for good health, happiness and being more creative. With this in the backdrop here is its review.

Book review of: THE NATURE FIX by Florence Williams

      In the timeline of human evolution on earth, we have spent 99.9% of our time in nature. In 2008 homo sapiens officially became an urban species, when WHO reported that for the first time more humans live in urban areas than rural. With this in the backdrop, this book addresses the following issues:

  • Is there science supporting the notion of nature deficit disorder?
  • If so, how much nature do we need to fix ourselves?
  • What was it about nature that people seem to need?
  • How would we get enough of it in our lives in order to be our best selves?

      In order to answer all these questions the author takes the reader on a journey from Colorado, Washington D.C., Utah,  Japan, South Korea, Finland to Singapore etc. and sheds light on different cultures, studies, reports etc. Her findings are divided into five parts that are as follows:

  • The first part explains why our brains need nature.
  • The second part tells how nature helps restore our attention – addled brains to a state of sharper cognition.
  • The third part looks at what happens to our brains and bodies when we hang out a bit longer.
  • The fourth part takes a deeper, longer drive into the wilderness, where really interesting things happen to our brains.
  • The fifth part looks at what it all means to the way most humans live in cities now.

      The narration is peppered with many interesting statistics and findings that the reader can imbibe in his/ her life easily and benefit from it. Here are a few examples:

  • After just a few days in nature there is a 50% improvement in creativity. Who wouldn’t want to harness that power?
  • Leisurely forest walk delivers a 12% decrease in cortisol levels, 6% decrease in heart rate.

      This book reaffirmed my faith in the benefits of nature. I enjoyed learning about many new age terms such as nature neurons (the essential link between our nervous systems and the natural world), biophilia (the passionate love of life and all that is alive), NK cells (natural killer immune cells). The author also makes a compelling case for architects and artists to imbibe more nature in their work. To address that here is my response as an architect and an artist. While she has explained in detail how new age cities are taking special effort to bring more nature in the city plans, the book could have been further enriched with two examples from American cities, namely NY and Seattle.

      The best part about the book is the conclusion when the author consolidates all her findings into a food pyramid to quantify nature’s dosage from our garden to a local park to a forest to the wilderness of a national park. To find out how much is the dose of each, for a healthier, happier and more creative life read the book!

Ratna

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