Sunday, November 29, 2009

Parks make people nicer

Public parks and gardens are what make big world cities liveable. Yet too often we become so absorbed in modern life that no thought is spared for the greenery that breathes life into our world.

Of course, nature isn't always green. If you're lucky enough to live somewhere with four seasons, you'll be spoilt with autumn leaves and spring blossoms. These are delightful for the soul and mine feels especially lifted to experience London's red and yellow (and all the shades in between) oak leaves this year.

Kim and I are taking her son, who is also my godchild, for a stroll through a small park around the corner from their house in South Bromley (yes, I finally got my visa!). There are lots of mommies with prams around in this London suburb and I think it's an absolute blessing to be able to raise kids close to nature, even when living in a big city.

Nature not only aids healing, reduces stress and improves brain functions and vitality - but it also makes people nicer, recent studies at the University of Rocester in the US prove. Simply looking at a "painting of roses" improves the psychological wellbeing of a human being. The study also shows that artificial environments make people more selfish and focused on wealth and fame.

We can't always get away from the industrialised modern world but it makes sense that we need nature to be soothed and healed from the daily grind. Life these days always requires a bit of compromise but it's great when the government of a country looks out for the wellbeing of their people by creating natural spaces for all generations to relish.

Now go, get out and contemplate a patch of nature. You may just find yourself thoroughly nicefied!

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