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Biophilia is the inherent human need to connect with nature and all the life that lives in it with us. It’s an interesting concept because as humans, we’ve isolated ourselves and the ‘dominant species’ when in reality our role in the world is far more than the man-made lifestyles we’ve built around us. We have an impact on our surroundings and other living beings. 

What can we learn from talking about biophilia? And what does it mean to connect with nature and other animals? 

How Does It Work? 

Humans instinctively want to seek connections with their natural surroundings. The bond isn’t just emotional, it’s genetic. While we’ve separated ourselves from our fellow animals with cars, concrete buildings, and manicured bugless lawns, we are still genetically similar to every other critter and creature roaming around. In fact, there is evidence, both anecdotally and qualitatively, that humans are attracted to nature. It’s in our blood to seek it out. 

Think about how you feel when you spend a day in nature – provided it isn’t raining or anything like that. Do you feel refreshed? Happy? Maybe there’s a little bit more of a spring in your step? Biophilia recognizes that those emotions are instinctive because it’s good for people to spend time outside. Earth is beautiful and visually appealing. It’s full of different colors, shapes, and life. So to enjoy that and actively try to spend more time in it is what biophilia is all about.  

Preserving the Earth     

Acknowledging and strengthening our connection to our environment is essential to preserving the biodiversity and ecosystems we have left. Americans spend 90% of their life indoors. That is a remarkably high percentage, but it makes sense. From our jobs, to our social lives, to basic day-to-day tasks like cooking, cleaning, and eating, everything is done inside, unless you make the conscious effort to move outdoors

The less time we spend outside, the less we appreciate it, and the less we want to be surrounded by it. But nature isn’t just there for us to enjoy, it keeps us alive. From the bees, to the forests, every plant and animal is essential to keeping our world healthy and diverse. It has even been suggested that this more recent lack of interest in nature could be a “potential factor contributing to environmental destruction and the rapid rate of species extinction.” Why should we care if the oceans are dying if everything is perfectly clean and climate-controlled in our homes?  It’s difficult to understand how bad the world is suffering from Climate change when you spend your days inside completely isolated from any global warming consequences

Getting Back In Touch with Nature 

So how can we strengthen our roots with nature? Well, the most obvious option is to spend more time outside. This could be on a pretty hike, or even just in your backyard. If you usually have earphones in, take them out and appreciate the silence. You might even realize that there is actually a lot to listen to, like a bird chirping a melodic pattern to its partner, or the crunching of leaves under a quick squirrel’s feet. 

Learning about nature is also a great way to get back in touch with it. The Biophilia Hypothesis by Stephen R. Kellert is the perfect book to read to understand the science behind a ton of universal emotions humans have towards animals and the natural world. 

Incorporating more plants into your space is a simple way to bring the outdoors indoors. Just be sure to check what kind of light a plant needs before buying it, so you know you’ll be able to keep it healthy and happy. You won’t want to get a plant that needs a ton of sunlight if your space is relatively dark. 

We Are Nature 

To ignore that humans are animals and that we also require time in our natural habitat (we haven’t always lived in houses!) is to deny ourselves of our evolutionary right to feel free in nature. Acknowledging the existence of biophilia, or at least discussing the idea of it, might also help people care about their environment a little more. There’s a lot to be said about why entire populations of people are willing to continue living their lives with little to no consideration of how they are negatively impacting the earth. Instead of calling them ‘ignorant’ or ‘uninformed’, maybe we should look at why it’s become normalized to stay inside all day and build entire lifestyles completely void of any interactions with nature

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