The human brain is a stupendous three-pound electrically-charged organ that has hundreds of miles of wires composed of brain cells. Those cells are so miniscule that thousands of them could comfortably fit into the period at the end of this sentence.
The brain is exceptional at both solving problems and making tools. It also constantly seeks to explore. In fact, we are all natural explorers, born to look around.
The most fulfilling pathway to reach joy is to access curiosity. It stimulates your brain. The surest way to do that is by visiting nature in your backyard, neighborhood, local green space, or even better a forest.
Take a few steps, stop, crouch and focus. What do you see, smell and hear? Wait a moment or two, watch nature’s grand pageantry and you will discover something fascinating. Which interaction is playing out? Is it an ant carrying part of a leaf, a woodpecker rapping on a tree trunk in search of nutritious beetle larvae, a butterfly gliding effortlessly through the air, or a small mammal excavating the earth for seeds or roots? Amble on.
Whatever you discover will bring joy. Joy is nature’s addictive drug. More exploration creates a need for more discoveries, which, in turn, brings more joy.
Curiosity and joy nourish your brain and its insatiable sense of wonder. Wonder is delightful.
When you feel wonderful it reinvigorates your body and mind. That is surely what led the 19th century naturalist and cofounder of the Sierra Club, John Muir, to eloquently scribe: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
A second splendid portal to discovering more joy is through kindness. To be helpful, generous and considerate, without expecting anything in return, is what makes some humans exemplary animals.
Kindness is simple, free, positive and healthy. A smile, a wink, a compliment, a courtesy of opening a door, or helping an elder load or unload their groceries is easy and it makes another person feel good. Goodness, ladies and gentlemen, wins the day. Every time.
In addition, kindness helps you access empathy and compassion for each other, and for the other two million or so other species that eight billion people depend entirely upon and cohabitate with on this hallowed blue planet.
Kindness, by the way, is also why millions of people have embraced veganism. Vegans love our brethren and sistren, the animals, and nature. They abhor violence and the destruction of the natural world. Vegans love our Mother Earth.
Please embrace the Dalai Lama XIV’s sagacious advice, “Be kind whenever possible. It’s always possible. And be kinder than is necessary.”
Curiosity and kindness are the key to a healthy, meaningful lifetime. Have you had your nature fix, today? Enjoy!
Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.
Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is now available!