Green Is The Colour Of Well Being

red-cedar-leaves

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:

– health

-personal relationships

– 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.

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26 thoughts on “Green Is The Colour Of Well Being

  1. On Sunday I was quite cranky, then we took the girls to the park and I felt really relaxed. It is great to sit by the playground while Isa plays and look at the trees and the pond where ducks, geese and even otters live.

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  2. I hear ya S and I totally agree. The greening of the planet is happening much too slowly, in my opinion. Most people (especially the “leaders”) are still acting as if it’s just optional, just a phase….Green spaces and a green attitude are so important. I’ve said it before, Ill say it again. Simple steps x millions of people= Amazing results. We all need to look at what we can do, not what isn’t being done.

    Hugs, G 🙂

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  3. As far back as the First World War, the Rev. Tubby Clayton, the founder of Talbot House (‘Toc H’) said ‘Come into the garden, and forget about the War’. I believe I have a picture of that garden in Poperinge somewhere, just as it was when soldiers got a few hours respite from the trenches of Flanders.

    Monty Don and his like would probably have a fit at that garden … but hey, it was the only green spot for miles around …

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  4. There’s been a fair bit of research over here that makes entirely that point about green spaces improving people’s general sense of well being and aiding recovery in people who are ill. Isn’t it sad that these days we’re so far from the natural world that we need to spend loads of money and brain power to work out what should be self evident?

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  5. INGRID:
    It really does you the world of good, doesn’t it? To actually see otters would be marvelous. I would love that.

    GERALDINE:
    I couldn’t have said it better myself. You are spot on with that one. Together we could do so much!

    TRAVELRAT:
    I can imagine how important it would have been to get a bit of a breather during the WAR. ‘Come into the garden and forget about the war.’ I love that. You always have the best stories.

    CRAFTY GREEN:
    It is really sad. I agree completely. Seems like our priorities are completely awry.

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  6. “Forget drugs, booze, shopping and the other things we use to fill up the holes. I want some eco-therapy”

    Okay. Then. Thats what I need to do! I think Ive over done it with the booze these last two weeks. Its time for me to feel better, and now I have a direction and plan HOW TO FEEL BETTER. Tomorrow I am headed to the park!

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  7. Green and flowers and birdies and butterflies and cute little caterpillars and the occasional wild animal. These are the things that make an anxious mind and heart breathe deep and smile.

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  8. I didn’t know that in Ancient Greek ‘eco’ meant that. But seeing how greenery makes people feel, it makes perfect sense.

    I could use me some green right now as we’re still in the midst of winter in the midwest (USA).

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  9. True words…Often times when I find myself a bit down, I just put on my mud boots, or “Wellies” and go sloshing through some muddy trails in the forest. Even though it may be raining, getting out and walking in the forest really seems to lift my mood as opposed to staying indoors and looking at the green through my window. Just brushing up against plants makes me feel like I’m surrounded by a group of “friends.” Green is good. Thanks for the reminder Selma.

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  10. Yes, it is true – although perhaps less so when we are very young. I think many of us go through a “rat-race” phase when none of that matters (not everyone but I know I did) and I was happy to live in a concrete jungle as long as I had people and services.

    But now I could not do that. I swore when I moved out of London that I would never live in a house or flat where I could not see a tree from my window. And I have stuck to that.

    For me, the sea gives a lot of peace. If I can hear or see the sea then I feel calm and insignificant (well, my problems feel insignificant cos the sea is so immense).

    But yes, the countryside and green spaces are good for calming the mind and making us feel happy.

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  11. That green is so important. To me, it means that where there is green, there is less modern information to seep into the mind. Reduce that outside info, and you connect more with the inner self. Here, green and self can become as one.

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  12. Living on a couple of acres allows me to be surrounded by green or at least it does from April to November. Right now it is a very depressing brown I’m afraid but I do take your point.

    We are fortunate in our city that it was very well planned out before it was built and is completely surrounded by parks. Even inner city living folks can get a dose of green when the need arises and that can only be a good thing.

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  13. I couldn’t agree more….personally I find the month of March in this part of the world the most depressing and energy zapping. In order to counteract that….because the lack of green and sun and the oxygen and freshness it provides I struggle emotionally…..I tend to visit the local greenhouse during my lunch hour….and walk through the houses soaking in the warmth and the life. I always, always leave there feeling much more hopeful.

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  14. I need those 20 minutes near the trees as well. Have to have it.

    Here’s a song by the New Riders of the Purple Sage that you may find relevant here:

    CEMENT, CLAY AND GLASS
    (SPENCER DRYDEN/DAVID NELSON)

    I LIVE BY THE SIDE OF ROLLING OAKS ROAD
    TRACT 25 JUST LIKE THE MAN SHOWED IT TO ME

    NOTHIN’ TO HIDE IT, NOTHIN’ BESIDE IT
    I REALLY CAN’T FIGHT IT, THE WHOLE PLACE IS BLIGHTED WITH
    CEMENT, CLAY AND GLASS

    TREES AWAY, CONTRACTOR’S PAY
    NO DELAY, 10 UNITS TODAY
    OF CEMENT, CLAY AND GLASS

    TREES GREEN, NONE TO BE SEEN
    YOU CUT DOWN THE HILLS BUT YOU PAY HIGHER BILLS
    FOR YOUR CEMENT, CLAY AND GLASS
    CEMENT, CLAY AND GLASS

    I LIVE BY THE SIDE OF ROLLING OAKS ROAD
    TRACT 25 JUST LIKE THE MAN SHOWED IT TO ME
    THERE’S NOTHIN’ TO HIDE IT, NOTHIN’ BESIDE IT
    I REALLY CAN’T FIGHT IT, THE WHOLE PLACE IS BLIGHTED WITH
    CEMENT, CLAY AND GLASS
    CEMENT, CLAY AND GLASS

    Appears on The Adventures of Panama Red

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  15. i think you are right sel,, i love winter here as it is the only time everything isn’t all burned dry and brown… i dislike the gray clouds,, but without one,, i would not have the other…

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  16. selma….I forgot to tell you that my latest post was stirred up in me after reading your post about your friend who had to close up her shop. The story stayed with me and I incorporated it into a piece of fiction.

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  17. MELEAH:
    I hope it helps, hon. Although it could be a bit chilly in your neck of the woods right now. Keep nice and warm!

    PAUL:
    Eco-therapy sounds pretty good to me. Maybe we should start a group!!!

    GROOVY:
    You got it in one. Guaranteed to cheer. I must admit that I love little caterpillars. The way they move is so fascinating. We don’t see that many at the moment because the birds eat them. Just as it should be, I suppose.

    EMPLOYEE:
    You have had a bitter winter. I’ve been watching it on the news. You must be longing for some green.

    PUNATIK:
    The British members of our family call them wellies, while the Aussie members call them gumboots. When I visit my friend’s farm I love slopping around in my wellies.It’s so freeing. Always makes me feel better.

    RELUCTANT:
    The sea is definitely calming. In my next life when I am rich I would like to have a house by the sea with a little boat to travel around in. That would be so cool.

    I know what you mean about it not being as important to us when we’re younger. I was a little like that too, although even when I lived in a flat I always grew herbs and flowers on my windowsill. A tiny bit of green, but enough!

    ANTHONY:
    Couldn’t agree more. The green definitely filters out all the info we are inundated with. I really like the idea of green and self becoming one.

    ROMANY:
    Sydney is a mish mash as far as parks go. They are often not placed in the areas where they are needed, such as lower income areas or areas with high density housing. I’m sorry about all of your dry land. I hope it rains and rains soon!!

    DANA:
    What a fantastic idea. More people should visit greenhouses in winter. I’m going to try it myself!

    RICHARD:
    Cool song. I actually haven’t heard it. The lyrics are great. Cement, clay and glass – that is uncanny. I’m going to have to go and check them out!!

    PAISLEY:
    I know what you mean – sometimes it’s greener here in the winter but the sky is dark. The searing heat takes the greenery away!

    DANA:
    Now this is the type of thing I love. I love when writers inspire one another – it’s like we are all part of a great writing circle. I am really looking forward to reading your story!

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  18. It depends on personality. I know people who despise the green and love the city with all it’s ick. To them, it’s beautiful. Trees don’t talk to them…

    but they do to me. 🙂 Personally, I’ve always been a country gal.

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  19. TEXASBLU:
    Even though I grew up in the city, I am a country gal too. The only way to go….

    JONAS:
    I guess I haven’t thought about the difference in spelling before. Colour vs color. Which to choose…

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  20. oh, you know where I’m at on this without me even writing another word…let’s all go hug a tree, and make sure we support parks initiatives in our cities and take a trip whenever we can to someplace free of the sounds of the city. The natural world has eons of wisdom to offer us, we just need to listen. Thanks so much for this post!!

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  21. You got it, Selma! Though I fancy myself urban, for that is where everything I adore, IS, it’s also true that I live outside the city, in a suburb, and I live bordering a well-known “Greenway” as it’s called. It is lovely to go for a walk(as I did today) with Louie(the Golden Retreiver-Mix from the Rescue group), and look for chirping birds, chipmunks(I gotta post you a pic!), squirrels, deer, etc. It is very PEACEful, and so it allows some quiet-ing of the mind.

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