The need for nature is a human condition that transcends the physical and behavioral needs of humans. In fact, there are some scientists who argue animals have a deeper connection to their natural environment than people do.
The “human–nature relationship” is the need for humans to be in nature and to have a connection with it. It has been shown that human’s health is directly related to the presence of nature.
We’ve been discussing about those distinctive areas of a man’s brain that have gone out of favor in the current world and need to be awakened in our Switches of Manliness series. However, there is certainly some overlap between men’s and women’s requirements; for example, primitive women were also extremely physical, and I believe contemporary women need some physicality in their life as well. However, there is more than a little overlap with this switch. Everyone may benefit from the Switch of Nature. Men, women, and kids. Squirrels. Well, I believe squirrels have it down pat. It is, however, for everyone and their mother. Your mother, too, needs it.
The Third “Frontier” of Man’s Separation from Nature
With the rest of the switches, we did a lot of thinking as we peered back in time and attempted to figure out what life was like for prehistoric man. But, because to this changeover, we don’t have to guess—we can declare with absolute certainty that prehistoric man spent much more time outdoors in nature than contemporary man. Every day, primitive humans were surrounded by nature. It was central to their lives: they ate it, produced with it, defended themselves from it, and even worshipped it.
For tens of thousands of years, a life built on a profound, essential connection to nature was the norm. This link would only be severed when established agriculture and later the Industrial Revolution made it feasible for an increasing number of people to earn a livelihood without relying on the land.
In his book The Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv divides American history into three “frontiers,” as he sees them. The first frontier came to an end in 1890, when the US Census Bureau declared that the harsh frontier line that had been pushing westward for centuries had vanished. The second frontier was symbolically closed a century later, when the US government stopped conducting yearly surveys of farm dwellers because that sector of the population had shrunk substantially, from 40% of US households in 1900 to just 1.9 percent in 1990. According to Louv, the Baby Boomer generation, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, “may be the last generation of Americans to share a deep, family tie to land and water.” Even if Baby Boomers didn’t grow up on a ranch or farm, they were likely to have a grandparent who owned property, which they could visit to get a flavor of the outdoors.
My grandfather owned a ranch outside of Albuquerque when I was a kid, and my childhood excursions there are some of my fondest recollections. He’d take my cousins and me on horseback trips and let us to assist him with his chores. I believe we slowed him down, but I believe he enjoyed our company.
My grandfather’s ranch was sold almost 10 years ago. Nobody I know owns a ranch or a farm anymore. I also reside in a suburban apartment. The “third frontier,” as Louv refers to it. For the first time in history, cities now house the majority of the world’s population. The third frontier is not a border in the classic sense, but rather a jumble of asphalt and grass, a location where people suffer from “nature-deficit disorder,” as Louv puts it, and males go about with their manliness switch turned off.
The Health of a Man and Nature
Every creature has an optimal environment; if it is removed from it, it may die or experience negative consequences. If you put a freshwater fish in a saltwater tank, the fish will soon be floating upside down.
A polar bear exhibit may be seen in the Tulsa Zoo. On a typical hot, sticky July day when the temperature soared beyond 100 degrees, I was there. The polar bear lay on a concrete slab, his white fur gray with algae and his eyes sad and resigned. I’m not sure whether zoos have suicide watch, but if they do, he would have been monitored. It was a depressing sight to see.
When I think of the plight of contemporary males, I frequently think of that polar bear. Our natural home was the wild for tens of thousands of years, and suddenly, at a single point in history, we find ourselves trapped within climate-controlled pods for roughly 24 hours a day. Sure, we’ve evolved to fit our environment, but the more time we spend in it, the better our brains and bodies become. This is supported by research.
Spending time outside has been related to a decreased risk of obesity. When I visit Vermont, I am astounded by how fit and slender many of the residents are in comparison to many Oklahomans. We spend a lot of time outdoors in Vermont, and we also spend a lot of time at Chili’s. When looking at a national map, it’s obvious to detect a link between states with the greatest outdoor recreation possibilities and those with the lowest obesity rates. Of course, there are several other elements at play, but the closeness and accessibility of nature should not be overlooked.
You can keep your mind sharp by spending time in nature. Cities may stress the human brain due to frequent noise, overcrowding, and a lack of natural settings. In reality, studies have shown a correlation between growing up in a city and the risk of getting schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Even if you don’t get full-blown psychosis as a result of living in the city, it may nonetheless wreak havoc on your mind.
Your attention span works in two ways: involuntary attention, which is triggered by arresting stimuli without you actively thinking about it, and directed attention, which is intentionally controlled by your cognitive abilities. It’s the difference between noticing a biker ahead of you and opting to keep an eye on him and being drawn in by an animated billboard. Directed attention helps you to tune out distracting inputs and concentrate on what matters. It’s important for effective thinking, emotional functioning, short-term memory, and academic performance.
Not only is our involuntary attention kept in overdrive in an urban setting as a plethora of stimuli attack the senses, but our directed attention is also put to the test, as it must continually fight to block off those grabs so that our involuntary attention can concentrate on what matters. “Take a look at that blinking sign…that cab is heading straight towards me!”
As a result, researchers have discovered that taking a stroll in nature, where stimuli play a far less dramatic role in our involuntary attention, enables our directed attention to rest, recharging it and making it ready to tackle challenging cognitive tasks once again.
Nature promotes relaxation and alleviates depression. Researchers in Japan discovered that participants who went for a 20-minute walk in the forest had “lower cortisol concentrations, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity” than those who went for a 20-minute walk in the city. What does this mean in layman’s terms? A walk in the woods relaxes you. Time spent in nature enhanced emotions of energy and lowered feelings of anger, anxiety, and sadness in a follow-up research.
Parents of boys, in particular, should be aware that studies have shown that spending time in nature may help to ease the symptoms of ADHD.
Your testosterone is boosted by nature. For a guy to feel virile, he needs a healthy amount of testosterone. Vitamin D has been demonstrated to increase testosterone levels in males. Sure, you can take vitamin D supplements….or you can receive free vitamin D by going outdoors and exposing your Boo Radley-like skin to the sun.
Cancer is fought by nature. Researchers in Japan conducted another study in which participants spent three days and two nights in the woods, taking lengthy walks in the forest during the day and staying at a motel near the forest at night. The participants had a 50% rise in “natural killer cells,” an immune system component that attacks malignant growths, as well as an increase in other anti-cancer proteins. This increase in NK activity remained for a month after the encounter, demonstrating that getting out into the woods, even if just once in a while, is well worth it.
Isn’t this some very convincing–and convicting–evidence? Anecdotally, I find it fascinating that if Gus is screaming and fussing, I can usually take him outdoors and the fresh air instantly settles him.
What is it in nature that gives rise to such significant advantages? One reason is the absence of over-stimulation. Natural aromatherapy is at work, according to the Japanese experts, and it has something to do with the wood oils in the trees. Studies have even shown that soil itself contains natural antidepressants.
Other research has shown that merely gazing out a window at nature, or even looking at a film or a photograph of nature, reduces anxiety and sadness, improves mood, enhances immunity, and speeds up recovery. So maybe there’s something to be said for Edward Wilson’s notion of “biophilia,” in which humans have a “desire to join with other forms of life,” as stated by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. If you resist that impulse, your emotional and physical health will suffer.
Nature and the Soul of a Man
There was a time when a meadow, wood, and stream were all that existed. To me, the world and every everyday sight seemed to be bathed in heavenly light. The radiance and newness of a dream
“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” by William Wadsworth Longfellow
Longfellow is regarded as one of the greatest Romantic poets. Romantics worried that men were losing their connection to nature and that this separation was having negative impacts on their spirits as the Industrial Revolution changed the landscape and the way people lived. Effects that could not be established via reasoning or science, but might be perceived instinctively in a man’s spirit.
I think I’m a little Romantic, since I’ve felt these effects and feel they’re genuine. Spending time in nature has made me a better guy, in my opinion. And I believe it may help you become a better guy in a variety of ways.
Nature makes you more humble. According to several research, narcissism is on the increase among young people. Parents spoil their children and inflate their self-esteem to the point that they believe they are unstoppable. And technology panders to our every want, tailoring itself to our own tastes and inclinations.
Nature is beautiful and relaxing, but it may also kill you. It’s not only about beautiful sunsets and jaw-dropping canyon vistas. Grizzly bears and perfect storms are also present. When you’re out in nature, you’re reminded of your fragility. At the foot of a mountain, you realize how insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things. Nature swiftly dispels any impression that the world revolves around you; it doesn’t stop pouring simply because you choose to go camping on that particular day.
Your senses are heightened when you are in nature. We communicate through phones and laptops. Our TVs provide us with entertainment. The grocery shop is where we buy our food. Every aspect of our lives is mediated through intermediaries. When was the last time you had a firsthand encounter? Nature allows you to absorb all of the components in their most natural state, before they are packaged for your use.
Nature inspires you to be more creative. Children participated in more imaginative, explorative, and creative play when they played in open, green places than when they played on asphalt or in organized environments, according to studies. Adults’ brains are also free to roam when they are not bound by the framework of our everyday life, the lines and regulations that keep us in line. Nature enables you to explore both your body and mind, which might lead to new perspectives on life.
Your spirituality is heightened by being in nature. If you’re a religious man, wandering amid the Creator’s creations may be the finest method to feel near to Him. The times when I’ve felt the most connected to God have occurred in the woods, not in a church seat.
You are centered by nature. It’s an indescribable sensation that I’ve never experienced before. The jumbled bits of my existence that had been banging around within my skull have now fallen into place. And I have a sense of calm and tranquility.
Nature’s most powerful influence on a man’s soul merits its own section:
Is Nature the Antidote to Cynicism?
“Man’s heart gets harsh when he is separated from nature; [The Lakota] realized that a lack of respect for growing, living things quickly translated to a lack of regard for people.” –Bear Standing
Cynicism. It is, in my opinion, one of the most serious, if not the most serious, threats to manliness today. It’s a cancer of men that’s destroying our virility. Why do I believe it poses such a danger? Because it asks, “Why bother?” in response to the invitation to pursue a life of integrity, dignity, and greatness.
I’ve wanted to write about cynicism since I began this blog, but I haven’t yet….because it’s one of my greatest personal challenges, and I’m not sure what the solution is. But I do know what has helped me the most with my cynicism: disconnecting and spending time in nature.
Nature restores a man’s capacity to perceive awe and astonishment when he is jaded by cynicism. Nature returns to a man a piece of a boy’s heart, a heart capable of acknowledging the world’s strangeness. Emerson, Ralph Waldo, said:
“I have had a wonderful excitement when crossing a naked common, in snow puddles, at dusk, beneath a cloudy sky, without having in my mind any incidence of extraordinary good fortune.” I’m happy I’m on the verge of panic. In the woods, too, a man sheds his years as a snake sheds its slough, and is always a kid, no matter how old he is. “Youth is eternal in the woods.”
The know-it-all attitude, or the notion that there is nothing really intriguing or unknown out there anymore, nothing that could possibly inspire a reaction other than “Meh,” is another indication of cynicism. Nature teaches us that there are many more layers to the world than we perceive in our daily lives, and that there are always new things to discover. According to DH Lawrence,
“On the surface, the world has shrunk and grown familiar. The visitors gallop around you as effortlessly as they trot around the Bois or around Central Park, poor little globe of earth. We’ve been there, seen it, and know all there is to know about it. We’ve finished the globe and it’s finished.
On the surface, this is correct. We’ve been everywhere and done everything on the superficies, and we know all there is to know about it. However, the more we learn on the outside, the less we learn on the inside. It’s all very well skimming over the ocean’s surface and claiming to know all there is to know about the water…
We have made a mistake. “Being outside the mucous-paper covering of civilisation results in a know-it-all state of mind; underneath lies all we don’t know and are terrified of knowing.”
When Lawrence saw the untamed grandeur of New Mexico, he saw his way through the mucous-paper of pessimism. Others should get the same “therapy,” he recommended. “Break through the gleaming sterile packaging and genuinely touch the nation,” he claimed, and you’ll never be the same. The whole remark from Lawrence is truly amazing, and I’ve included it as a Manvotional with this story.
How to Activate Nature’s Switch
The Switch of Nature is possibly the simplest of all the Switches of Manliness to flip. There are several tiny things you can do to bring a little piece of the outdoors into your home. Remember that simply staring out the window at nature may assist individuals (so avoid placing those televisions in the rear of your vehicle for the kids!).
You could live in the country, have a profession that requires you to be outdoors all day, or know someone who owns a farm or ranch where you can visit anytime you want. But I’m sure there are some males out there who only go outdoors throughout the day to stroll to and from their automobile. Make it a goal for these boys to spend at least an hour outdoors every day. It may not seem to be much, but it may make a significant difference—remember, modest and easy adjustments add up to flip the switch on. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Exercise in the open air. According to a research, “exercising in natural environs was related with stronger emotions of renewal and positive engagement, reductions in stress, bewilderment, anger, and melancholy, and improved vitality” as compared to exercising inside.
- Lunch should be eaten in a park. If you can’t find a parking spot near your employment, eat in your vehicle with the windows down.
- Every night after supper, go for a stroll.
- Rather of paying someone to undertake duties like mowing the yard and raking leaves, do them yourself.
- On the patio or apartment balcony, you may read, surf, or work.
- Open your windows at home and in your automobile on pleasant days. On a cloudless 70-degree day, the majority of the windows in our apartment complex are closed, and everyone is driving about with their vehicle windows up. It makes me question whether the whole world has gone insane at times.
- Plan a picnic with your date.
- You should walk to your errands.
- To go to work, ride your bike.
- Look for a pastime or activity that demands you to spend time outside. There are a plethora of activities to pick from, like skiing, skating, surfing, jogging, gardening, geocaching, hunting, fishing, and so on.
- Go on a camping trip. It’s a no-brainer, to put it that way. But you should stop thinking of camping as a lengthy, well planned excursion. Even one night can make a difference. I know you’ll feel stuck—like gathering your belongings and traveling to the camping won’t be worth it. It’s worth it even if it’s just for one night. It will revitalize you.
What additional activities can you do to spend more time in nature? How has spending time in nature improved your life?
Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
The Cure for Modern Male Malaise: The Switches of Manliness Series Physicality is the first switch. Challenge is the second switch. Legacy is the third switch. Switch #4: Make available Nature is the fifth switch.
The “importance of nature 10 points” is a blog post that discusses the need for nature in humans. The first point is that “nature’s beauty and wonder are unmatched by anything else.”
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