Outdoors: The Nature-human Connection

Our modern urban lives have a way of disconnecting us from nature but we always find a way to return to it.

Friluftsliv, a Swedish / Norwegian expression for spending time outdoors with nature, has entered our contemporary consciousness as a well-being philosophy. Loosely translated, the term means ‘free air life’, pointing to nature’s abundant healing effects on our lives.

Giving friluftsliv an imagery, it paints scenes of long walks in the forests, dancing in the snow and camping under the stars. At its core, however, friluftsliv simply gives a name to our innate desire to commune with nature in this fast-moving material world.

Social psychologist Erich Fromm named this desire to connect with nature ‘biophilia', to mean the love of life and all things alive. He suggested that our propensity as human beings to seek and form bonds with nature and other life forms is rooted in our evolutionary biology. It is deeply innate.

‘Philia’ itself also points to a positive feeling in our everyday encounters with our natural surroundings. It stems from an ecopsychology that humans have always instinctively known: the wellbeing of the natural environment is tied to the wellbeing of human beings.

So we put gardens around our houses, plants in our rooms, greenery on buildings and devise man-made water bodies to simulate the effects of nature where it is absent. ‘Biophilic’ designs, we call them. We do all that to recreate the positive feelings that we have encountered in our interactions with nature. By bridging our living environments with natural elements, we restore liveability in our man-made habitats.

The pursuit of friluftsliv and the likes of any other nature-returning philosophies signifies a deep knowing that being close to the natural world would make us happier. It is no wonder that outdoor culture has infiltrated contemporary life as the go-to prescription for resetting mind and health.

As it is, our modern lives in urban environments tend to divide and isolate us from nature. If you are reading this, there is a high chance that you have lived in cities your whole adult life. There is also a high chance that you deliberately immerse in nature from time to time to rediscover what’s important to you. Now we know it is all par for the course, this wanting to be a part of nature and a part of being human.

Dehua is full of outdoor recreational opportunities. We recommend taking a day trip out to visit Daixian Waterfall, or hike to the Dongshang Ancient Kiln Scenic Spot. For the more adventurous, Bamboo Raft Drifting. Being outdoors can also be a state of mind, so sit and relax to a beautiful view from The Hideout at Level 9 of The Luzerne.