How Wildlife Helps Our Soul
We recently spent an amazing couple of weeks in Borneo, Malaysia. Whilst one of the main reasons we went was general exploration, we've always felt an affinity with wildlife and nature in general. We came away absolutely inspired and focused, ready to take TLA to a new level and inspire more people around the world...and also to start planning our own charitable arm out in Borneo.
There is something incredible special in Borneo about being so close to nature. Even though we're huge nature and wildlife enthusiasts, there's something very unique and special about being surrounded by wildlife constantly. Seeing, smelling and hearing them. It's also how we believe the world should function.
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. It is divided into three distinct areas - Malaysian Borneo, Indonesian Borneo and Brunei. Containing vast rainforests estimated to be approximately 140 million years old, it is hope to some of the most amazing wildlife in the world. This includes various species of hornbills, monkeys, orangutans, 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of terrestrial mammals, and 420 species of resident birds...and also some of the most bizarre and eerie sounds in the world!
Its beautiful and natural (though threatened) beauty was helped by a conservation agreement signed in 2007 by the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. The 'Heart of Borneo' was a conservation agreement initiated by the World Wide Fund for Nature to protect a 220,000 km² forested region on Borneo island that is known as Asia's last great rainforest. The region provides habitat to 10 endemic species of primate, more than 350 birds, 150 reptiles and amphibians and 10,000 plants.
Various guides in Borneo told us that we'd realise really quickly how we were guests in this world - and that it really belongs to the animals. We couldn't agree more. Seeing the most amazing wildlife in their own habitat was incredible - as well as understanding the daily risks of being so close to them. We quickly understood that this certainly is their world - not ours.
Although we've always had a fascination, there is actually a science behind why being so close to wildlife makes us feel so inspired, alive and makes us feel "well again"
Eco watch shared reasons why nature makes us feel so good;
- Time slows down - "clock time" which is measured by hours, minutes and seconds fades away - moving away from the unnatural system of measuring time which creates stress
- Nature shows us that we can have "just enough" rather than the "have to have everything right now" mentality - our culture teaches us that we can never have enough...whether it's more food or buying stuff. Being around eco-systems shows us harmony and balance. Nature has to use what's available to survive and how wildlife and nature work in harmony
- Surrendering comfort and control - yes, nature really can be messy and cold...or too hot for that matter. You can't stop it form raining, or being too hot....it takes you out of your comfort zone and that's always a good thing. You will also remember how sometimes a lack of control is good, that you can't always control every single outcome
- When you have to be quiet and still and have very few distractions, you remember who you really are. We certainly find that every time we're close to nature, we are truly inspired and all the unnecessary hum drum, stress and anxiety is filtered out. Ideas come freely and fills us with a sense of excitement.
How nature impacts on our well-being
There is indeed true scientific basis for why nature positively affects our wellbeing.
Mind state that in one study, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.
The University of Derby has identified contact, emotion, meaning, compassion and engagement with natural beauty as pathways that helped people to feel closer to nature. More scientific and knowledge-based activities were not found to help people connect with nature. They also found that activities that related to these pathways significantly increased the connection, compared with just walking in nature alone or walking in, and engaging with, urban environments.