I just finished reading The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. It’s a book that scientifically explains why spending time in nature has been proven to increase happiness, healthiness, and creativity. Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the book:
- Spending as little as five hours per month outdoors has been shown to reduce both stress and blood pressure. It’s also associated with heightened awareness and creativity.
- Surprisingly, most of the benefits from nature come from the sounds and scents we hear and smell while spending time outdoors. Specifically, birdsong has been shown to reduce stress and make us feel more relaxed.
- Even looking at pictures of nature for only a few minutes is associated with an increased sense of well-being and happiness. (After reading this, I changed my computer screensaver to a picture of a forest. Maybe it’s just the placebo effect, but it does seem to put me in a good mood whenever I see it.)
- Even a 20 minute walk outside in the middle of the workday has been shown to increase productivity and creativity significantly.
- People are spending more time indoors than ever before in human history. This has some notably negative side effects. As the percentage of people who live in urban areas increases and time outdoors decreases, obesity, stress, and depression rates all go through the roof.
Intuitively, I think we all know that it’s a good idea to get some fresh air from time to time. But this book highlights just how transforming it can be. I personally wasn’t aware of all the physical, mental, and psychological benefits of spending time outside. In addition to these great perks, there’s another obvious benefit of spending time outside:
It’s completely free!
Nearly all public parks, hiking paths, bike trails, and nature reserves are completely free to access. For anyone looking to cut their entertainment bill and save some money, spending time in nature is the answer! Not to mention it practically begs to be a social experience.
Instead of spending $15 per person on movie tickets, why not pack a lunch for $5 and head to a nature reserve near your house? You’ll actually get to spend time socializing with the people you’re with instead of staring at a massive screen together in silence in the dark. I would rather save more money and receive some great health benefits. This aligns with spending money to maximize my happiness.
Nature is out there
Before reading The Nature Fix, I had already been an outdoors guy, but once I learned the extent of all the health benefits I was inspired to spend even more time in nature. I only faced one problem: There weren’t many nature reserves or parks near my house…or so I thought.
I headed over to Google Maps and literally searched the word “park”. This is what popped up:
There were over 20 parks within a 10 mile radius of my house. I had only been to maybe 7 or 8 of them. I had no idea there so many outdoor spots to visit in my own backyard.
A little farther out I saw some larger green blobs on the map. Pro tip: anytime you see a big green blob on Google Maps, it’s some type of forest or nature reserve. I zoomed in on these spots and discovered there were two huge forests with extensive networks of hiking trails less than 15 miles from my house:
That same week I headed out to those two forests with some friends to check out the trails. They were surprisingly well maintained and hardly anyone was there.
The trails were a blast and I’ve gone back several times since then. At the end of each hike I’m always drenched in sweat, but guaranteed to be in a better mood than when I started the hike. It must be a combination of physical exercise along with the scents of the forest and the birdsong…who knew birds chirping could be such a mood booster?
Discovering these forests helped me realize there really were places to spend time in nature right in my own backyard. If you’re looking to find some new outdoor spots where you live, I’d recommend checking for some giant green blobs on Google Maps near your house. You might be surprised at what you find.
The perfect way to save more and maximize happiness
Any time I go outdoors and do something active I’m almost always in a better mood than when I stay inside and opt for passive entertainment. To me, nature offers more entertainment value than watching a movie or going somewhere like a casino or indoor arcade. I also think it’s way more fun to actually do a physical activity outside and be able to socialize with the people around you.
Best of all, spending time in nature can be a huge money saver, especially for families. It’s infinitely cheaper to spend the day at a nature reserve, out on hiking trails, or hanging out on the lake than to pay for passive entertainment.
If you’re looking to save money, increase happiness, and become healthier, try going outside a little more.
Fun fact: I wrote this article while listening to noisli.com, a site that uses nature sounds to create background noise to help you focus. Nothing quite like writing about nature while listening to nature 🙂
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3 Replies to “Nature: The Perfect Recipe for Increased Happiness & Increased Savings”
This is so true! There’s a reason FIRE bloggers are often involved in outdoor activities: it’s generally free and it makes us feel awesome. 🙂 It also helps that you get exercise while bonding with either yourself, another person, or nature. Ahhh. Being outside reminds you that we don’t need a lot of material possessions to be happy. It’s all noise.
Great to see that there are so many green spaces near you to explore and love the photos!
Mr. G. planned a 10-day bike trip that went mostly through big green spaces and we had a blast! Since we were on bikes, a couple of the campgrounds were just $10/night and we got a couple of campsites right next to beautiful rivers.
Love the take-away about nature escapes during the workday too. My office is right next to both a wetlands park and a nature park and I try to get out to enjoy one or the other a few times a week. My friends and I have seen great blue herons, nutria, deer, frogs, snakes, and all kinds of birds. It’s a great way to restore energy and I always feel more productive when I go back to the desk.
Look forward to reading more about the places you discover near your new home!
Mrs. G, that 10-day trip sounds like a blast! And cheap as well. Also, getting outside during the workday is completely underrated. It’s amazing what a short walk outside and some fresh air can do for your energy levels. I try to eat my lunch outside at a park near my work almost everyday just because it amplifies my productivity so much once I get back in the office. I look forward to sharing the places I discover near my new place as well! Also, I still plan on checking out that Grant Petersen’s book about biking to work that you and Mr. G recommended to me. Thanks as always for the kind words 🙂