Tag Archives: Biophilia

A talk on the wild side

It’s my birthday today so I’m feeling reflective.  I get like this nowadays.   Seeing as I’ve now got more of my life behind me than in front of me, I’ve started to draw up a list of things I still want to do before, well, you know.   And in keeping with my personal philosophy that ‘the best things in life are not things’ my list is mainly made up of experiences, and most of those involve walking.    It  wasn’t always the case, but I love the outdoors.  When I need time to think or be creative, I set off up a fell in the Lake District at six in the morning.   I nearly always come down with the inspiration I was seeking.   And now I think I understand why.    In the last thirty years a new phenomenon called biophilia has been coined to describe something that scientists believe is central to man’s mental wellbeing – an inherent love of nature.   For reasons that go back deep into human evolution, we are predisposed to be attracted to wild places as a cure for stress, anxiety and healing.    It’s why most of us feel better after a good walk in the country.  It’s why we value our gardens.  It’s why many of us feel strangely at ease when walking alongside a flowing river.   It’s why pensioners flock to the coast for their retirement.  It’s why children who spend time in the countryside are less likely to suffer from ADHD.   It’s why we like pot plants in the office.   The scientific evidence behind biophilia is growing each year.   Hospital patients have healed quicker and required fewer painkillers when given views of greenery from their bedside window.    People with mental illness have benefitted from the positive effects of digging an allotment or tending a garden.   People have been shown to be more productive and creative in natural environments.    Maybe this is another reason why today’s offices, with their barren strip lighting, mind-numbing white noise and vapid decor are so uninspiring.    Faced with this landscape of deadness, a lone yucca plant next to the water cooler can only do so much.   So let’s let a bit more of nature into our workplace.  Let’s see some greenery, some water, some earth and some natural air.   Or better still, let’s take our work into the outdoors.  Let’s have meetings on the move with a country walk, solve problems over a picnic and give presentations under an oak tree.   It’ll make us all feel better and I’m sure it won’t be long before we’ll appreciate the business value of biophilia.