WWB Wise Guru Q&A Series: Newly Released Book ‘The Nature Fix’ Presents Cutting Edge Science on How Nature Affects our Health & Well-Being from a World Wise Perspective…

Mar 15, 2017 by

NatureFix_2 with frame.jpgWWB Wise Guru: Florence Williams is an American journalist and nonfiction author whose work focuses on the environment, health and science. She is a contributing editor at Outside magazine and a freelance writer for National Geographic, the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones, High Country News, O-Oprah, W., Bicycling and numerous other publications.

Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in science and technology and the 2013 Audie in general nonfiction. The New York Times named it a notable book of 2012.

She was a Scripps Fellow at the Center of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. She is a fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University. She serves on the board of nonprofit environmental magazine, High Country News.

WWB Featured Book: ‘The Nature Fix, Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative’ explores the science behind our connection to nature and proposes that for optimal well-being, regular doses of nature are not only recommended but required.

 

Lauroly Opening- I am so honored and pleased Florence Williams could join me for a Q&A. Her book is a favorite of mine, and so glad she wrote it. Perhaps it’s a favorite because it speaks to me on a very personal level. Nature has always been my fix, without a doubt. Having said this, I never classified myself as ‘Nature Girl’. I didn’t camp as a kid and I didn’t hike until my 20’s. But being outside and playing in nature was always a big part of my life experience. I can thank my Dad for that. I have this in common with the author! I only saw him on weekends growing up, and every weekend, weather permitted, we were either horseback riding in the woods, walking in the woods, or rowing a boat on a lake next to the woods. Those early experiences and the need to be outdoors has never left me. I like the term Florence used in the book, “drinking the tonic of nature.”I wrote a piece for this very blog on Nature Therapy in 2015 and briefly discussed ‘Forest Bathing’ in Japan which she covers quite extensively in the book. Later in my life, traveling for business, I would always make a point to find a Public Garden no matter where I was, so I could reconnect with nature and myself. Reading ‘The Nature Fix’ confirmed what I have had always felt intuitively about nature…I’m a part of it and it’s a part of me.

Besides my personal connection to the topic of your book, I found it to be the perfect non-fiction book. It is well researched, highly informative and very entertaining as well. I love how she takes us through the research via her own personal travel. Her travel takes us to Japan, Korea, Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, and we learn a lot about their cultures and wellness philosophies. Florence packed so much into this book, I found myself really challenged about where to start. I remind myself that I do these Q&A’s to recommend books and motivate people to go and read the books. I hope to touch on some of the many important findings in this book…

 

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Lauroly Q- Welcome Florence Williams! So if everyone hasn’t heard yet, nature is good for civilization!  What you set out to do is to find the science to support why nature is so important to our humanity and our everyday well-being. To do that we need to understand our senses and how much of how we function is synced with nature.  It seems to me that when we are out in nature we are fully alive, because many of our senses are engaged in our experience. This explains to me personally why I am generally happier when I am outside. There is an enlightening chapter where you focus on a man in Sweden who experienced a personal tragedy and later came to understand how important nature therapy is to patients with depression. Yet like everything else with humans, the dose of nature varies from human to human.  What do we know so far about nature as therapy? Tell us more…

 

 

 

flopromoBarrOutdoorFlorence Williams: Yes, Lauroly, you are exactly right that it does seem to be the full-sensory experience that awakens our sense of well-being, and that there are many studies that support this idea. But the science is still young, and many of the studies are very small. It’s actually quite difficult for scientists to tease apart exactly which elements of nature are most helpful or which senses are most engaged. I was struck by the studies in Japan, led by Japanese anthropologist Yoshifumi Miyazaki, that measured physiological changes to the nervous system after just 20 minutes of being in the woods. These studies showed a 20-minute stroll on a forest trail can reduce your blood pressure an average 11 percent and lower your cortisol hormones (a measure of stress) by six percent. Perhaps because of the practice of forest bathing in Japan, people there are attuned to using all their senses in the woods – so they’re really paying attention to what they’re smelling and feeling and hearing and seeing. It seems that shortcut to mindfulness really helps us feel calmer and relaxed more quickly when we’re out in nature.
 

Lauroly Q– Glad you started with Japan. We can’t discuss your book without talking about ‘ Shinren Yoku (Forest Bathing)’. What is it about the Japanese culture, that has them embracing Forest Bathing so fervently that it has become part of their national healthcare policy? When you asked Miyazaki why nature is so important to their culture, he had this to say, “In our culture, nature is part of our minds and bodies and philosophy. In our tradition, all things are relative to something else.” Loved his answer. But it is amazing how the Japanese ended up being so far removed from the very thing that defined them isn’t it?

Florence Williams: Japan industrialized very quickly. The cities grew fast and there was intense economic competition for good jobs, good schooling and feeding the corporate culture. People are stressed out there, and they work and study incredibly long hours, effectively removing them from a lot of time in the countryside. But it would be mistake to say that modern life has disconnected them from nature. The Japanese still internalize a close connection to plants, for example, in their practices of bonsai and flower arranging, in their tiny gardens and through their lens of wabi sabi, which celebrates the seasons and simple nature. I think in many ways the Japanese definition of nature is more generous that the western one, which looks at spaces like parks and wilderness areas, rather than integrating elements of the natural world into everyday life and homes. That said, the Japanese do seem to relish getting outside when they can. As a result of Miyazaki’s data, the country has designated 48 “forest therapy” trails where overworked, urban citizens are now urged to go unwind, and it looks like more trails are being created.

Lauroly Q- One of the things I was wondering about while reading about your research in Finland, is related to Vitamin D (sun) and the deprivation they experience in winter. Have any researchers looked at how tree therapy might counteract the negative effects of not having enough sun? This is a good time to tell us about why Cypress Trees seem to have such a positive effect on our senses. As you put it, in the book “we enjoy a neural bath of happy hormones”! Below is a quick video you created to illustrate the beneficial effects of nature…

 

Florence Williams: Trees are certainly magical and wonderful, and hit a lot of our happy buttons, from providing rich visuals, especially fractal patterns (known to promote alpha brainwaves) to creating habitat for birds that in turn relax us with their birdsong. The smell piece is fascinating, as tree aerosols from cypress trees in Japan were found to lower blood pressure and increase Killer T immune cells in humans. That said, even in Finland and even in winter, being outside provides more brightness and full-spectrum light than being inside, and so the light aspect is still important. Full spectrum light is linked to wellbeing, and vitamin D is linked to all sorts of good things, from shaping our retinas to strengthening our bones. The lumens outside is generally 10 times greater than the lumens inside, except of course at night. Even the darkness, though, can help reset our circadian rhythms so we sleep better.

Lauroly Q- As a psychology major I found a lot of the research on education, and brain disorders like ADHD fascinating with respect to nature. Besides the specific special needs of children on the spectrum, your book explores the idea that children in general really need nature and play. I loved the section on Friedrich Frobel and his research. He focused on cultivating curiosity and freedom in childhood. Tell us how ‘kindergarten’ was originally conceptualized, and how nature was at the center of child education…

Florence Williams: Friedrich Froebel, who was born in Germany in 1782, was an educator heavily influenced by Rousseau, who said, “Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Author of Nature.” Rousseau and Froebel both made a case for allowing young children to explore and learn based on their own curiosity. Froebel believed that an education filled with nature and art could instill a lifelong readiness to learn and also develop empathy and a love for living things. He really invented kindergarten, and it was nature-based from the beginning. Unfortunately, many cultures now consider kindergarten the new first-grade, and are taking children inside to sit at desks and learn their academics. We are not devoting enough time to considering what has been lost in this new model.

Lauroly Closing: I hope we don’t lose that model. Cultures change, but we don’t have to lose the wisdom that has already been acquired, especially when it comes to child development. Thank you Florence for joining me at World Wise Beauty, to discuss your important and wonderful book. I am going to make it my personal duty to share this book with everyone! I know they will love it and your research will resonate for them. I believe we are realizing nature is not a luxury but an absolute essential to our personal wellness, our humanity and our culture. See you out there Florence!

Florence Williams Closing: Thanks so much for your interest, Lauroly. It was so much fun reporting and writing this book, and it’s certainly made me spend more time outside. I will hope it will influence others as well.

 

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Introducing WWB’s Passioneer Library–Fuel Up With Books to ‘Feed Your Passion’

Nov 10, 2015 by

 

 

Find your passion, explore your passion, live your passion. This is what WWB’s Passioneer department is all about! I am so excited to present this new monthly column ‘Passioneer Library’ because I get to fulfill my passion, which is to share knowledge and wisdom I have found in wonderful books! I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t recommend a book, share a book or quote a book when I wanted to encourage someone to explore and learn. Equally and magically books always seem to find me exactly when I need wisdom or inspiration. Does that happen to you?

Well if it hasn’t happened, I hope the Passioneer Library becomes your ‘go to place’ for books that will ‘feed your passion’. Passion often leads to your purpose, and your purpose is often your calling. But keep in mind, your passion doesn’t have to be your job. There are all kinds of ways to tap into your passions, and the idea is to bring them to life, and enjoy them to the fullest. This month we focus on ‘creativity’ and I present two fantastic books that are sure to get your creative juices flowing. I myself can’t wait to read the first book featured because it was just released. Let’s read it together! The second book is an older book I have read and it is a must have for the Passioneer’s library. I often recommend the author’s other National bestseller  ‘Flow’  (which is a classic now around the world) to people who are interested in the creative process.  Happy reading and exploring…

P.S In addition to this monthly column, I also interview high-profile authors, experts and visionaries who are Passioneers and will inspire you to pursue your passions in life. I invite you to take a look at some of the wonderful people I have featured here at WWB who are out there living their passion, and also making the world a better place. I promise it will make you feel rainbows up and down your spine! How is that for a visual?!

 

 

 

 

 

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

 

 

The classic study of the creative process from the national bestselling author of Flow creativity is about capturing those moments that make life worth living. Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi reveals what leads to these moments—be it the excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab—so that this knowledge can be used to enrich people’s lives. Drawing on nearly one hundred interviews with exceptional people, from biologists and physicists, to politicians and business leaders, to poets and artists, as well as his thirty years of research on the subject, Csikszentmihalyi uses his famous flow theory to explore the creative process. He discusses such ideas as why creative individuals are often seen as selfish and arrogant, and why the “tortured genius” is largely a myth. Most important, he explains why creativity needs to be cultivated and is necessary for the future of our country, if not the world.

 

 

 

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WWB’s Monday Morning Pow-Wow Reminds Us What Being a Passioneer Is…

Sep 21, 2015 by

 

Good Morning World Wise Beauty,

How is that dream of yours going? At WWB’s Passioneer department you’ll find, experts, gurus, and creative visionaries who will make you feel good about the world, and get you thinking about what YOU are passionate about. In the meantime, Monday mornings aren’t the time to click-through to all kinds of articles you don’t have time to read. So, I thought a little Monday Morning Pow-Wow would be just the right cup of ‘motivational & inspirational fuel’ you need to jump-start the week!

Join me for a ‘cup that kicks’ with wisdom, and subscribe to World Wise Beauty to receive your ‘Pow-Wow’ every Monday morning. Feel free to share with friends and family using the ‘share this’ buttons below, because everyone needs a little  inspirational ‘kick’ on Mondays!

9/21/15 Passioneer’s Pow-Wow Wisdom: Passion isn’t a part time effort!

For Inspiration: Check out our most recent Passioneer’ , author and guru Jolene Hart who has conceptualized a very healthy approach to beauty and shares all her secrets in her book ‘Eat Pretty’. She left the glamorous world of writing for beauty magazines and created a world of holistic beauty so we can all be comfortable in our own skin. You know you’re curious! ;-)

 

 

 

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Weekly Wisdom Wrap: From Stress to Serenity… Discover the ‘Contagious Movement’ Inspiring Wellness Culture

May 29, 2015 by

 

 

 

Psst…have you heard about the latest trend in wellness culture? To sum it up in one word it’s creativity! Over the last year I’ve been sharing all kinds of posts on my Facebook page about the healing power of art and your creative spirit. In fact just today I shared a wonderful piece from Spirituality & Health magazine entitled ‘Color Your Way to Peace’. It might seem a little childish at first, but using art to heal and soothe our spirits has been used for hundreds of years. Below is a bit from the article mentioned, and as you can see drawing and coloring is ‘serious’ therapy!

EXCERPT: The prominent psychiatrist Carl Jung would notice a distinct calm come over his patients as they drew mandalas during therapy. He frequently used mandala art as a form of treatment, as he believed that the process helped his patients work through the outer chaos of their lives and get in touch with their inner being.

 

 

Coloring Books for adults are the hottest selling items in wellness culture right now. The one artist that really put ‘coloring books’ on the map is Johanna Basford, a young woman from the UK who has gone viral internationally with her beautifully illustrated coloring books. I also shared her story back in March on WWB Facebook from Bored Panda a great digital site I just love that will surely get your creative juices flowing.

 

 

Since we are on the subject of art therapy, I also shared a WWB ‘Ideal Find’ on this very blog last Christmas which is called the ‘ Buddha Board‘. You have probably seen this special gadget in a Barnes & Noble store here in the states, but you can also easily find it on Amazon. When I interview founders of mission oriented companies for my ‘Ideal Finds’ department, I always ask them to define their ‘authentic dedication’. Below is the Buddha Board’s dedication and I just love their mission and concept. It’s a different kind of therapy from the coloring book, because it helps us practice the stress reducing art of ‘letting go’, which is the basis of ‘Zen’ philosophy.  Zen essentially means experiencing fully the present, and delighting in the basic miracle of life itself. We can all use more Zen moments!

 

Original Buddha Board

 

Authentic Dedication: Buddha Board is dedicated to the Zen concept of living-in-the-moment, we believe in the importance of doodling, creating, and having fun. Enjoy! You simply paint on the surface with water and your creation will come to life in bold design. Then as the water slowly evaporates, your art will magically disappear leaving you with a clean slate and a clear mind, ready to create a whole new masterpiece. Buddha Board is environmentally friendly as it only uses water – no ink, no paint, no chemicals – and it will last for years with proper care.  

 

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Besides all the fantastic things creative endeavors do for stress management, there is also a lot of research that shows art and nature ( we chatted about nature in last weeks wrap) can truly be a healing power and boost your immune system. It does this by  lowering levels of chemicals that cause inflammation that can trigger diabetes, heart attacks and other illnesses. It gets better because what they are finding, is you don’t actually have to be creating art yourself, you can also just experience it! The study came from the California University of Berkeley and it’s another ‘report post’ I shared on Facebook. Follow WWB on Facebook as well as this blog because you will truly be up to date on all things beauty, health and wellness!

EXCERPT:Psychologist Dr Dacher Keltner, of California University in Berkeley, said: “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”

 

I hope you enjoyed my romp across the highly contagious ‘creativity’ movement in wellness culture. There is so much to explore when it comes to art & creativity and so many ways to incorporate them into our wellness lifestyle. To quote the wise genius Albert Einstein again, “Creativity is Contagious…Pass it On.” To honor his wisdom, below is a printable coloring book page I am passing on to you, to help you get you started on coloring. Right click on image, save image, and select PRINT. Hope your weekend is filled with fun, play and healthy creativity…

P.S  If coloring is not your thing…Pass It On!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WWB’s Culture Wise: The ‘Life Enhancing’ Benefits of International Travel…

Apr 9, 2015 by

I have to begin this new blog department with a wise quote from an American author and adventurist Mark Twain. “Travel is fatal to prejudice,bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” I couldn’t agree with this more. I was fortunate as an International Sales Manager to travel abroad for many years and attend international conferences. I met people from all over the world and the more I traveled I found most human beings are generally good-natured. Maybe this is my personal world view, but when I read this quote “Traveling increased what’s called generalized trust, or general faith in humanity.” from an insightful article in The Atlantic, I realized my perspective was shared by many other ‘world wise’ people. To a certain degree, I think being born in New York City, gave me an ‘instant passport’ to the diverse cultures of the world. It certainly inspired me to want to see more, learn more and understand more with a worldly perspective…

The above mentioned article from the Atlantic is entitled ‘For A More Creative Brain, Travel’, How International Experiences Can Open the Mind to New Ways of Thinking. The writer explores how in recent years, psychologists and neuroscientists have begun examining more closely what many people have already learned anecdotally– that spending time abroad may have the potential to affect mental change. The researchers found through numerous studies a clear correlation between time spent abroad and creative output. For example, the brands whose creative directors had lived and worked in other countries produced more consistently creative fashion lines than those whose directors had not. See expanded data in article…

I hope you take the time to read this interesting piece, but just in case you can’t, here are WWB’s top 5 takeaways to get your creative brain thinking and perhaps you might even book a trip to your next destination on your bucket list!

~Truly Herself, Lauroly

1. New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain.

2. “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” says Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School and the author of numerous studies on the connection between creativity and international travel.

3. Traveling may have other brain benefits, too. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, an associate professor of education and psychology at the University of Southern California, says that cross-cultural experiences have the potential to strengthen a person’s sense of self.

4. What a lot of psychological research has shown now is that the ability to engage with people from different backgrounds than yourself, and the ability to get out of your own social comfort zone, is helping you to build a strong and acculturated sense of your own self.

5. Cross-cultural experiences have the potential to pull people out of their cultural bubbles, and in doing so, can increase their sense of connection with people from backgrounds different than their own.

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/03/for-a-more-creative-brain-travel/388135/

For those not able to plan a big trip right now. You will love this other wise finding from the research…

Although a new country is an easy way to leave a “social comfort zone,”The cultural engagement associated with cognitive change doesn’t have to happen abroad. If a plane ticket isn’t an option, maybe try taking the subway to a new neighborhood. Sometimes, the research suggests, all that’s needed for a creative boost is a fresh cultural scene.

P.S  For my arm-chair traveling friends, you might enjoy WWB’s ‘Book Wise’ Club as we will always be reading books with a focus on world culture and wisdom. Subscribe to this blog to stay informed about our next reading selection.

 

 

 

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