What is biophilia? Coined by E.O. Wilson, a famous conservationist, entomologist, and professor at Harvard, biophilia refers to the fact that humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life. (Bio= life, philia= affection for). Have you ever felt biophilia – the urge to associate with other forms of life? It may sound like a strange word but it is a lovely, important concept. While most of our preferences towards things in nature are a product of our culture and experience, they are also a product of our evolutionary biology. Woah, that was a mouthful. Let’s look at an example of what biophilia in our everyday lives: baby panda bears and puppies. Generally speaking, humans think baby animals are very cute! The key word here is “baby” – imagine you are looking at a picture of an adult AND puppy Golden Retriever. The puppy will probably make you squeal with excitement and you’ll want to hold it! Baby animals have big, adorable eyes, soft fur whereas older animals evoke a less strong reaction in humans. This is an example of biophilia because humans’ adoration with baby animals demonstrates the caring, interested emotional response of adults to babies across species which ultimately helps younger creatures survive and thrive. Let’s look at another example of biophilia in our daily lives: keeping plants inside our homes. Our innate love for nature causes us to help maintain other natural plants and keep them close to our family and living environments as they provide a sense of beauty and connection to nature.
So why did I even bring up biophilia? As this blog is designed to help people live their best life and integrate nature in ways that bring them genuine happiness, it is important to bring up biophilia because our current lack of biophilic activities (as a result of increased indoor time, technology, cars, etc.) increases the distance between humans and the natural world and therefore affects an important evolutionary, biological source of happiness. If you agreed with the puppy example – you acknowledge that you get excited when you see cute baby dogs – then do you dare to take a leap of faith and believe in the larger concept of biophilia? And do you have the time and will power to think about ways in which you could increase your daily biophilic activities that can help you live a more enriched life in your personal GladSpace? Okay, great! So let’s chat about biophilic design and how you can make a few small changes in your household or daily routine to reintegrate your life with nature in meaningful ways that are sure to benefit your well-being.
Biophilic design is an innovative concept in architecture (that can be spread into other areas of life) that promotes environmental sustainability by reconnecting people with the natural world. Work offices, educational buildings, and private homes all have the opportunity to adopt biophilic design properties that enhance health and happiness in humans. Biophilic design can reduce stress and anxiety, improve creativity, and expedite healing. In your home, do you have an opportunity to increase your use of natural light or your organic materials? Do you have room for a hanging vegetable plant in your home, or a jar that holds growing herbs? How many plants do you currently have inside your home – could you increase the quantity and variety? Good luck integrating nature into your daily lives. Please comment below if you’ve discovered a wonderful way of improving your home or work place’s biophilic design!