Nature and Selective Stress; the Key to a Long Life
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” — (attributed to) Albert Einstein
The Futile Race Against Time
Most busy people rarely take time to celebrate the small things in life. They go through life with a back-breaking attitude, pushing themselves to reach one finish line after another. It is not at all rare to find the joy of a post graduate student who left his precious lashes in the books being studied to the wee wee hours of the night, dissipating very shortly after entering the work force. Today's job markets are marked by aggressive competition, bias, and unemployment. It is true that through hard work people may acquire fortunes, properties, extravagant lifestyles and even fame, but is that all there is to life? Is having lots of financial amenities the ultimate goal?
Material gains hardly ever lead to a life of true happiness and satisfaction. Every day we hear of rich and famous people who couldn't conquer a debilitating disease, or couldn't mend their relationships, or lost everything overnight. Reality is that we can have all the money, all the luxury, and all the fame, but if the spirit within ourselves is lonely, sad, or blue, nothing else really matters. Actually the more one has, the more energy is expended on the conservation of such things, and the more we may have to sacrifice the things that really matter to us.
The first law of nature is the conservation of energy. The most powerful animals know not to overexert themselves. A lion knows when to stop the chase no matter how hungry it may be. Yet, overworked people seem to be the norm in this society. A shaky world market is pressing people to work double shifts; take on a second job, apply for positions of high responsibility, and burrow money until they find themselves suffocating under the weight of their debts.
In fact, everyone and everything is suffering in this fast paced, high tech world. Even the dog who once dreamed of the perfect master has to chew out the dining room chair leg to fight the depression that comes with loneliness and depression-- yes, dogs too suffer depression! We all need to stop the running. Life should be more like a cruise ship and less like a jetliner. We must really ask ourselves the question: racing for what and, to where? Really, if we think about it, rushing through life cannot and will not add an inch or a second more to anyone's life. Ironically, it seems to be the contrary. Being on the flight- or- fight mode all the time can actually shorten our life span. The hormones which occasionally flushed through our ancestors bloodstreams to help them fight or escape life threatening dangers, are now dangerously consistently circulating through ours as if we were running from the claws of wild animals all day long. This is not at all healthy.
According to research, humans seem to be stuck in the fight or flight mode. This constant stress is creating havoc in the immune systems of today's generation and it's literally breaking society down. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 80-90 percent of all illnesses in modern time western societies are caused directly or indirectly by stress. We can illustrate this, by comparing it to the two massive earthquakes that rocked the world in 2011. Geologists claim that these earthquakes shifted the axis of the earth by a few degrees, shortening the length of the day. That is exactly what can happen if we continue living our lives running from here to there as if the ground was constantly shaking under our feet. We may well be shortening our lives.
Of course, there are situations that have the potential to cause a great deal of stress, however we all have the power to select our stressors and de-emphasize some of their disturbing features. And we are not talking about being in denial. We are talking about making a division between what's real, and what is not. What's priority; and what's secondary. What is necessity, and what's luxury. What is you, and what is, "what my neighbors think." For our own sake, as a society, we need to return to the simple things of life. We have dug too far into the deep ditched, high tech, stainless steel world, which is exaggeratedly centered in materialism. No longer do we nurture our inborn desire to interact with nature. We have become suppressed, and by consequence aloof to the things that really need our attention; our families, the ecosystem, our spiritual life.
We need to make a conscientious exodus from this materialistic way of living, and set our eyes back on Mother Nature. We need to sit and relax in the midst of a park surrounded by greenery, read a book under the blue sky, and take long walks by the beach. We need to rekindle our love for nature and return to the basics.
Returning to Nature One Baby Step at a Time
We can learn much from earth-based cultures that go to nature in seek of peace, tranquility and a sense of real purpose. Take for instance, Native Americans. Although today they live quite differently from their ancestors, they retain a deep respect for nature and the land. In fact, most indigenous cultures around the world have a world-view that separates them from us "Westernized thinkers". Indigenous cultures believe in self-sustaining life styles. They cultivate their own ground, and live in harmony with nature. Yet, today, even they are fighting the battle for survival against an industrialized system who cares more about geo-political boundaries than about the conservation of self-sustaining lifestyles. This is very unfortunate, for there is so much the world can learn from these people. It was once stated in an article that a child reared in a forest community knows more about plants than a botanist who studies them for a living. I thought that was fascinating. Imagine the future of medicine in the hands of people that grew up studying plants.
We may want to insist in believing that society is better off today than it was 200 years ago, perhaps because of all the advances in technology, yet those very advances when studied at deeper levels may well be the cause for most of our modern day woes. Surf the internet, you can literally find hundreds of website that believe technology is the root of all evil, taking precedence over money. Modern technology is believed to be the culprit behind environmental pollution, bankrupt businesses, the separation of families, the swift propagation of violence and crimes, and the list goes on and on. Many even believe that there is a conspiracy to destroy us, and that we are being controlled from behind the scenes through media, computers and video games.
But, is this true? Could be. The question however is: how are we as individuals to cope with the mess in our society? Is there a way out of technology, and back to mother nature? There may be. Actually, I have a positive outlook on what's to be the future of the earth. I believe the Bible promise of God restoring the earth back to paradisaical conditions some day in the near future.
For those a little more skeptical there is still much you can do to deviate from excessive use of technology and acquaint yourself once again with nature, one baby step at a time. Here are some tips:
- Take walks through natural settings. Absorb the scents and pay attention to the sounds around you. Feel the wind. Observe the way of life of the creatures who call these natural places home. Ponder on the instinctive intelligence that guides birds to build nests on high trees, protect their young, and use the wind as a free source of navigational energy. This is all very rejuvenating and can will give you insight into the workings of a Higher Source.
- Read More! Find out all you can about nature and don't just go online, read books. There are books galore about nature, and there is something about reading a hand-held book, that you can not find in an e-book. A book can follow you anywhere from the tub to your bed, and it doesn't hurt your eyes as much as the glare from a computer screen. Plus books carry a little of the nostalgia of the old days when owning a library of knowledge was a sign of literacy and intellect.
- Become a "citizen scientist". There are many scientific organizations that need our assistance in helping them to keep track of endangered species. By reporting sightings of their enlisted birds, mammals, and even butterflies, we can make our own contribution to science. One such organization is the Audubon Society. Check them out, and learn how to identify endangered species, perhaps in your own backyard.
- Choose a hobby that brings you in contact with nature: photography, bird watching, writing, art, poetry, or just crochet that afghan blanket while sitting at a park.
- Choose to eat healthy. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits Nature is as good for you outside as it is inside.
- If you cant' get out enough, or if you live in a city, try playing soothing nature sound Cd's while at work or at home. These are very rejuvenating, and come in a variety of selections that cover the sounds naturally occurring in settings such as;rain forests, beaches, lakes, swamps, etc.
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