The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index Report recently came out. The index is based on average levels of satisfaction with various aspects of life. People in the inner city areas of Sydney were included in the report. Apparently, we’re a bunch of gloomy and miserable people.
The Wellbeing Index examines levels of satisfaction with:
– how safe you feel in the place you live
– standard of living
– what you are achieving in life
– feeling part of the community.
The state of the environment and the Australian economic situation were also examined.
It was found that people in urban areas showed less evidence of wellbeing than their counterparts in the suburbs or in rural areas. The inner city dwellers felt less connected to the community and blamed factors such as high density housing and a higher percentage of young people, single people, and immigrants who made little effort to become part of the community.
I think there’s another factor involved in the gloom of city life and that is the lack of green space. Green is good for the psyche. Parks and gardens get us out of our apartments and tiny inner city houses. It increases our level of contact with other people and moderates our moods. I think that innately we sense that grass, trees and water relax us. Without a bit of green in our lives our stress levels rise, as well as our intolerance for the rat race.
Harvard biologist E O Wilson believes we are biologically drawn to natural landscapes and because of the shift to urban environments modern life brings has suggested we’re entering an Eremozoic age, the age of loneliness, isolated from all other living organisms.
His research has inspired environmental psychologists to closely examine crime rates, academic performance, aggression, mental health. They are wondering if a bit of urban greening could make all the difference.
I think they are on to something. If I am feeling down or stressed I go and sit in the park under my favourite tree, looking out at the water. In about 20 minutes I feel better.
We talk about ecology, eco-awareness, eco-warriors. I wonder if we realise that eco in Ancient Greek means home, habitat. I don’t want my home to be made only of concrete, steel and glass. I need some green.
Forget drugs, booze, shopping and the other things we use to fill up the holes. I want some eco-therapy. Green the cities of the world, I say. It might just save us from ourselves.