When you think about nature, does it feel like something “out there,” or more like a close friend?
This might seem like an odd question, but as Dr. Les Higgins explains in his new book – Connect with Nature – maintaining a close relationship with the natural world is, “One of the best things you can do for yourself, others, and planet Earth.”
However, Higgins doesn’t just preach to you about holding hands and wearing flowers. He lists practical steps for how anyone can embark on a nature-connectedness journey, and cites a combination of hard science and personal stories to describe why you might want to do so.
Connect with Nature has two main parts. The first provides suggestions on how you can connect with nature, whereas the second describes the benefits of becoming a nature-connected person.
Because I’m a rebel, I’m going to discuss the second half first.
In Connect with Nature, Higgins describes many benefits of connecting with nature – some of which scientists have demonstrated experimentally. These include:
- Better mental health: both in ‘normal’ circumstances and following traumatic events,
- Realizing that occasionally, you actually can trust people,
- Improved physical fitness,
- Increased support for conservation.
Now that I’m sure I’ve convinced you of the power of connecting with nature, I expect that you’re burning with the desire to learn how to do so.
Unfortunately, I won’t tell you, because it’s winter and nature keeps hurting me. You’ll have to look to Dr. Higgins for those answers, who lives in sunny Australia.
As mentioned before, Higgins packed the first part of Connect with Nature with suggestions on how you can do just that. He begins by describing his own nature-connectedness journey, which began with simple bushwalking but eventually resulted in him leading expeditions in the Himalayas.
While some readers may interpret Higgins’ story as yet another reason to never go on a walk, I imagine that his intentions were to show that you don’t have to be as tough as James Hendry to grow closer to nature.
Many activities, from gardening to looking at nature photographs to camping, can help you become more nature-connected.
Higgins actually recommends gradualism: starting with relatively easy activities and then moving on to more complicated ones when you’re ready. This means that you don’t have to do anything crazy: you can wait a full week after your first bushwalk to go to the Himalayas.
I found Connect with Nature to be an excellent read; it was well-written and thoroughly-researched, but not dense.
Furthermore, I was impressed by how well Higgins knew his stuff. He’s clearly passionate about nature-connectedness, and keeps up with the latest research on the topic.
If you’re a student or anyone else interested in the science of nature connectedness, Connect with Nature will help you identify great sources to follow up with.
But most significantly, I appreciated the personal stories of people who benefitted from becoming more nature-connected. An author can list all the peer-reviewed studies that they wish, but this doesn’t always have the same impact as hearing the stories of actual people – including Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon.
This mix of sources – scientific and personal – is one of Connect with Nature’s greatest strengths.
I highly recommend you read Dr. Higgins’ Connect with Nature. Whether you want to become more nature-connected yourself, or you simply want to learn about the science of nature-connectedness, I’m sure you’ll find value in this book.
Be sure to visit Dr. Higgin’s website regularly! He plans to use it as a companion to the book, where he’ll post additional information about connecting with nature, so that you can keep learning about this crucial subject.
Thanks for the review of Dr Higgins’ book, Josh and the information about James Henry (I had a look at his video channel). These posts are good stuff for people (like me) who want to catch up on wildlife events and people working in the field, and also great that South Africa features from time to time – you should probably consider a visit at some stage – if you haven’t yet and I missed it – as I’m sure you have enough contacts there by now to have a memorable journey.
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Thanks Jacques! Both Dr. Higgins and James Hendry have been very helpful to me as I learn more about human-nature relations (which is an odd way to put it, given that humans are part of nature). Dr. Higgins has helped me find some good information on the topic of connection to nature, and I appreciate James Hendry’s humorous approach to outdoor education.
I would love to visit South Africa! I’ve been wanting to go for years, but I never feel like I’m in a good enough financial position to make the trip. Although I do have lots of contacts in South Africa, so perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to them and start talking about the possibility of visiting at some point.
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Hey Josh, South Africa is not all that expensive and if you book in advance you should be able to get reasonably good flight deals. The fact that you have contacts there could save you some significant costs and there are always affordable backpacking and youth hostel style solutions + hop-on-hop-off type of long-distance solutions (see: ‘BazBus’).
The only issue is that S.A. is right now in an electricity crisis that is so severe that it’s affecting all aspects of life, so it would also affect the comfort of tourists. This problem really become huge last year and this year is likely to be worse (between 8 and 12 hrs a day staggered blackouts). So personally I would not advise traveling there this year – rather wait and see a bit, hopefully it will be sorted by next year. Sorry for this bit of a damper on the idea … (but fortunately there’s loads of good online resources about nature conservation in SA in the meantime).
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It’s good to hear that there are affordable ways to travel in S.A. I’m going to have to look up this BazBus thing you mentioned, although I’m guessing it’s similar to the commuter buses I encountered in Central America, where you hop on, pay your fare to a conductor, and then hop off when you reach your stop.
I’ve heard about the electricity problems in southern Africa. Honestly, waiting another year to visit SA would be better for me, since it gives me more time to plan and save up money. Waiting a little longer would also allow me to get in touch with some of the safari guides I know in SA, to get their opinions on how to travel there on a budget.
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