How nature fills our hearts with joy

Kaniz Fatema | Saturday, 11 September 2021

People often misunderstand nature as a place that is outside of the urban landscape, somewhere close to the countryside, a scenic place of superfluous greenery. But in its truest sense, nature is bigger than that. Nature is every fallen leaf, the flight of a bird; nature is the tiny hard-working ant in the kitchen, as well as the elusive Leopard of sub-Saharan Africa.

If thought deeply, one can fathom the widespread range of nature, how it predominates everything around us. Nature is the hibernating cactus of your balcony, the first ray of morning that somehow peeps through your curtains, the muddy puddle on the roads you try to avoid on rainy days. Nature is a part of your life.

It's true that being a city dweller and enjoying big doses of nature doesn’t go hand in hand. But it’s important that you take out some time for yourself to enjoy whatever the nature around you is offering. It can be as simple as watching those lonely clouds from your window, concentrating on how they float above, like guests strolling above the sky. If you don’t unleash your soul in the infinity of the big sky, how could you expect to be a bigger person at heart!

Experiences of awe in nature attune people to things larger than themselves. They cause individuals to feel less entitled, less selfish, and to behave in more generous and helping ways.

Mr Aminul Ahsan, an employee of The Eastern Bank Ltd, enjoys sunrise every morning. According to him, the beauty of dawn is only for some selected people, not all of us can enjoy it as it demands the sacrifice of sleep.

“I wake up very early in the morning to pray. Making a pact with sleep is harder someday but the reward is what keeps me moving always. I get to enjoy my solitude in the first light of the day and honestly, this feeling can’t be described in words. Feels so wholesome, so soulful,” he elaborates. Well, that definitely sounds like the right start of the day.

In the book ‘Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,’ authors Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia have described 10 rules of Ikigai (A Reason for Being/Being Alive) to achieve a longer and healthier life. The 8th rule was reconnecting with nature. The longer you stay out in nature, the better the benefits. Being in nature allows people to focus their senses.

Farhana Moni, an Atlanta-based Bangladeshi neurosurgeon is a big fan of greenery and gardening. Her backyard and front porch is full of plants. “There are different kinds of people around us. Some people love mountains, some love beaches, but I guess all of them love foliage. I often find my neighbours trespassing into my house to admire my plants. This might daunt you a little, but frankly, seeing this fills my heart with joy,” she adds.

It requires effortless attention to look at the leaves of a tree, unlike the constant emails at work or the chores at home. Walking 30 minutes or more in a park each week can keep your hypertension under control. Nature is the true healer.

A study published in the journal named Current Biology shows the sleep-promoting benefits of the great outdoors. Nature improves sleep by resetting our internal clocks to a natural sleep cycle.

Another study by Marc G Berman and his colleagues at the University of Michigan reveals that short-term memory is improved 20 per cent by walking in nature, or even just by looking at an image of a natural scene. Not only that, quality time spent in nature helps in increasing levels of Vitamin D, decreasing anxiety and depression, lowering blood sugar in diabetics, reducing inflammation, and even increasing creativity.

Kaniz Fatema is a 4th Year student of Geography and Environment at the University of Dhaka
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