According to research that has taken place in Japan, Finland and Texas, people who took walks or were shown images of nature were found to have a natural decline in heart rate. When stress becomes an overwhelming burden, it’s the exact opposite. If nature can reduce the stress levels riveting people’s lives, then generosity and kindness are bound to follow suit. When agitated, it can be difficult to take the time needed to make sure you are calm and collected. You might snap at your friend for something they said without even realizing it. Your nerve endings having taken the increased heart rate into a zone of animosity that can be quelled by visiting the wonders of the earth.
Participants in studies from the University of California have been done on kindness to see if kindness is more willing to be shown in nature. In economic games — The Trust Game and the Doctator Game — trust and generosity were measured. It was found that the people who viewed images of beautiful nature acted more trusting and kind than the people who were not shown them. In a separate study about kindness, individuals were asked to fill out emotional surveys while either sitting next to plants or not next to visually stunning plants. After the survey people were asked if they would volunteer making paper cranes, the researchers noted that the participants who sat next to the plants were more generous and willing to make more.
This type of research gives a small look at the many values that nature offers, and the best part is, it’s everywhere around us. Think back to the times when you were younger and running around during recess, the imagination as free and wild as can be. Think of the times of playing in the park and being free, meeting other kids who were willing to play games with you. There’s a natural kindness that seeps through us when we are just sitting in the presence of nature’s landscapes.
There’s a reason why people in cities are always viewed as standoffish. Everyone is walking around with massive buildings and through crowded streets. There’s trash laying dormant on the street, cars impatiently waiting for you to cross the sidewalk and a lack of the green embrace of the world. In my head I see cities textured in a gray fog. When I think of nature I see illustrious images with full colors and the world, instead of the man made towers that constrict and take away from that.
The researchers from California also made the observation that positive emotions come from being surrounded by nature, which begins to emanate from individuals as prosocial and kind behaviors. Maybe the next time you’re feeling caught under and ready to snap, think of taking a refreshing walk through nature. Let the air blow through your hair and instill the generosity in your soul.