For some two million years our hominin ancestors enjoyed a long-term relationship with Mother Nature. Up until about 10,000 years ago—a mere hiccup in evolutionary terms—our survival completely depended upon successfully negotiating her ups and downs. Though we grew apart, man still harbors a meaningful affinity for nature, an adaptive holdover, some scientists say, from prehistoric times.Though it’s been centuries since we began substituting environmental reliance with human wit, researchers believe that nature left a deep evolutionary mark on our psyches. A growing body of scientific evidence links nature with health benefits, including a reduction in stress and disease and a heightened sense of overall wellbeing.MORE: Daily Affirmations for People Who Hate Daily AffirmationsUntil now, however, how nature affects our experience of immediate, in-the-moment happiness remained a more elusive question. “Most people would agree that natural environments are happier places than other places,” says George MacKerron, Ph.D., a lecturer in economics at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. “We know they’re lovely, but ultimately, we wanted to know: How lovely are they?”
The best thing for happiness is to be in trees with your friends.-George MacKerron, Ph.D.