5 Lessons to Learn from Nature
Let’s be honest. Don’t we all spend too much time at our screens? Having video calls all day long for work and then binge watching the newest season of our favourite show by night. And yes, urban living with every possible café and restaurant close by definitely has its charms. Not to mention that our smartphones and other speakers in the house continuously supply us with an undercurrent of background music. Yes, guilty as charged.
When was the last time you have fully switched off from all digital and urban distractions and have immersed yourself in nature? Can you remember your last stroll through a forest or at the beach? Most of us will have to think a sec to answer this question. And for most of us, the answer will not be anything within the last week. Which is a shame, really.
When you think of it, nature is so abundant and rich. It is so full of peace and quiet, as well as of liveliness and action. Nature is as old as the earth itself but also gets reborn every millisecond. You don’t have to go too far in the history of our Western Society to see that there was a time where we looked to nature to teach us life lessons. And somehow along the way toward smart-phones and smart-homes these lessons have been lost. If you however do dare to tune in with nature, you will soon realise that nature’s lessons are extremely personal and will depend on your questions and your goals.
Here are just 5 lessons we have found and want to share with you for inspiration:
Don't do, just be
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
– Lao Tzu
Although we know that we humans are called human Beings, we kind of pretend on a daily basis that we are human Doings. From the second our alarm goes off (or maybe after snoozing for the 5th time) until we set said alarm again for the next morning when going to bed at night, we constantly Do. We measure the success of our day and even our life by the things we have Done. When talking about how productive we have been, we think about all things Done. And then at the end of the week, we are totally exhausted by all the things Done as well as by our accompanying expectations and to-do lists.
Don’t get us wrong, we love our to-do lists here at nez living and we champion a productive working mode. However, we also promote well-being. And as the word says, the concept is about Being and not Doing. So although doing is essential to our lives, it should not be the only state. There needs to be a balance. And sitting on our couch on a Friday night totally exhausted from the week’s proceedings shows that there has been too much doing and not enough being.
The funny thing about nature is that it seems as if nothing really happens. It is quiet and peaceful. Very slow. But even though the movements seem gentle and the opposite of being rushed, everything that needs to be done, is done in time and in an appropriate manner. Everything is accomplished as it is intended to be. Without hectic actions and panicked interventions. Just by letting nature take its course. Be inspired to slow down and just be, and trust that everything will turn out the way it should.
How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change.
– Elizabeth Lesser
Of course there are people that don’t like the seasons and would be most happy with having 365 days a year of heat and sunshine (or snowy mountains and a snowboard under their feet – to each their own). But most people do enjoy the change in seasons and the new beginnings they represent. There is a promise of a fresh start in the air when spring is around the corner. We turn inwards and reflect when winter is coming, preferably with a cosy blanket and a hot chocolate at the side.
The point is, in nature everything is changing and evolving. Constantly and all the time. Very slow and almost not directly visible at times, but change is there wherever you look. Even more, it is the basis for development and new life. Thinking about change like that should give us cause to celebrate and embrace it. In real life however, our first instinct to change is often resistance. And why? Because change might threaten something we hold dear, physically or emotionally. And when our values are threatened, we get triggered and respond in ways that protect what we have and hold off anything new and unknown.
That is also our nature and thus a very logical and common reaction. Were it not for the upsides and opportunities change can bring, we might even leave it as is. But change is as inevitable as it can be beneficial. Just as change in nature brings a fresh start, change in our lives propels us forward and lets us develop toward our full potential. In order to embrace change, we need to learn how we can protect the things we value during change and not instead of change.
Start to wonder again
If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.
– Vincent van Gogh
Who says that there is no magic left in this world? When we are kids and when we thus haven’t been burdened with adult expectations in life, we still dare to dream. To awe. To wonder. We dare to see the magic in the smallest things in life and we see the beauty everywhere around us. Somehow, when growing up, we lose that ability to wonder. And why? Because we fear to be seen as childish. Maybe even immature. And we are fully distracted by all kinds of other things fighting for our attention so that we don’t even see the wonders that could make us awe.
Immersing yourself in nature is a great way to get rid of outside distractions and pay attention to the little miracles we can see as long as we keep an open mind and an open heart. We can go back to a state of awe and wonder and welcome feelings of lightness and hope. Those feelings can help us deal with unpleasant emotions or help us find inspiration and insights which require an open and inquisitive mind.
Use your senses
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
– John Burroughs
As human beings we have been given five senses to collect information from our environment which our brain then can interpret and use to form understanding and meaning. These senses are sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell. And these senses can be trained. Stretched like a muscle. Some people have trained their senses to sheer perfection and for example can pick up on shifts in weather by noticing subtle changes in the wind and bird songs.
That we are able to train our senses also means unfortunately that we can neglect them. Instead of relying on our sight and touch to detect changes in weather, we simply look at our smartphone app showing us what the weather will be… or not, as most of the time the weather predictions are unreliable, but that is a totally different topic. Which is strange when you think of it as we know that sensory stimulation is an important factor in learning, and often used for babies when they start to make sense of their surroundings.
Many of us have been living lives neglecting our senses and what they can mean to us. When spending time in nature and consciously tuning into our senses we can try to make up for lost time. We can train our hearing by listening to birds and further our sense of touch by feeling the structure of leaves, trees or sand. You will soon realise that your observations about your environment will shift.
You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.
In times of iPhones and individualism, we value our sense of self and independence. And while those are important indeed, the values of community and belonging often get overlooked. And let’s not forget that we human beings are social creatures, in need of connection to enhance our well-being.
Nature is a wonderful role model for presenting the individual elements in their strength but still tying them into a greater system. Take the ocean and the analogy of water. While the ocean is the sum of all water drops, each drop in itself has its right to be and is equally important as the other.
Those are just five lessons we have learned from spending time in nature. We become more relaxed, focussed, inspired, grounded and curious. Nature is almost an antidote to modern tech and urban living and proves to be a very wise and patient teacher. Its balance and harmony are incomparable. What are your lessons learned from nature?
If you are interested in more inspiration you can download your copy of our latest Intentional Living Calendar, our day-by-day guide to well-being, productivity, and sustainable living. The complementary daily tasks, ideas, and prompts are designed to help you to focus on your well-being and inspire a more intentional lifestyle.