Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Tips from Happy People

        Science | Emotions

Spend Time in Nature

Many people would claim to have an instinctive attraction to nature and a desire to preserve it. We want to protect the rain forests, clean up pollution, and if possible, live by the sea or a nice park. And despite much of the world's population living in urban areas, we interact with nature in many ways, whether in a mediated way through having domesticated animals as pets, or by going camping or fishing.

The concept of biophilia, a term coined by biologist E.O. Wilson, states that evolution has bred us to appreciate and do well in nature. The scientific literature backs him up, as studies have found that people who are exposed to nature become ill less frequently. (Similarly, hospital patients recover more quickly if placed by a window with a pleasant view [source: Bloom].) Pets and spending time in nature are both tremendous stress relievers. Having a cat or dog can also help people to alleviate loneliness or feel in touch with nature, even when confined in a city.