Nature is important

I was thinking about what I could write as a blog that was different, for me the idea of nature is important. If I want to de-clutter my head, I just need to drive to the seaside and watch the waves go in and out, the sounds invoke good memories for me and I am reminded of how life is full of good and bad things. The bad things get swept away with the tide and what remains tends to be clean. There are of course exceptions when pollution comes in, but the good news is that when this happens you have eco-warriors who come and heal the environment, just the same way as a human being has friends and family who can help them to heal.

How trees demonstrate languishing and flourishing

I, like many before me, am fascinated by trees, how they can grow for so long and develop so well. Trees for me demonstrate flourishing, languishing and pre-contemplation, especially in the different domains of life. Flourishing can be seen in the growth and germinated seeds. Pre-contemplation can be seen in the autumn, where the trees go into hibernation, which consolidates their growth for later life. There are times parts of the tree may begin to languish and be seen to die, for me this can be seen in a tree in Windsor Great Park, which half of the tree is flourishing and alive, and half the tree is dead or languishing after it was hit by lightening when it was younger. Sadly this part will never become alive again. I am reminded of how we have different domains of life, and that in some we can live life to the full (flourishing), in some we may need to heal sometimes, this is a decision (pre-contemplation), and other areas may be dead (languishing).

Nature and positive psychology

Diener and Ryan (2011, pp. 19) conclude that “exposure to nature” is linked to “higher subjective well-being, better health and lower levels of stress”. Incidentally I looked in about twenty positive psychology textbooks for references to animals and nature and this was the only one there. I remember once having an office that overlooked a park, and you would get all sorts of birds, rabbits and deer coming to the window. It always made me smile to see the animals coming, I always ended up feeling higher levels of happiness and my students noticed it caused me to smile wider.

Pets and positive emotions

At home we have always had animals, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, canaries, fish. but I have determinedly resisted the idea of buying a cat! Recently I agreed, so about two weeks ago we got a cat. I have had cats before, but I could not remember the soothing effect of the purr, and the loving effect of the way she sits on your lap. I know my family are laughing at me as they see the way that the cat and I relate. But it got me to wondering, just how much our positive emotions can come from different sources including our pets.

I know when I was writing a chapter in a book on autism, that buying a dog was really recommended as it helps to give the child something to love, giving them an outlet for expressing emotions which they sometimes struggle with. I have seen this in use, whereby the child is upset and the dog calms him down in much quicker way than any other could.

I also remember one of my MAPP class physically changing, becoming more animated and smiling more broadly when she spoke of her new dog, which she called a therapy dog. The other time she was most animated was when she talked about her horse. I come to think now, is this simply the healing power of nature coming into action?

Diener, E. and Ryan, K. (2011) Chapter 2: National accounts for well-being for public policy, in Donaldson, SI., Csikszentmihalyi, M. and Nakamura, J. (Editors) Applied Positive Psychology: Improving everyday life, health, schools, work and society, Hove, Routledge Press, pp. 19.

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

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