In 2017, BBC Earth worked with the University of California, Berkeley on a study that determined that watching nature documentaries makes people happier!
The paper titled “Exploring the emotional state of “real happiness.” A study into the effects of watching natural history television content”, was authored by Dacher Keltner, Richard Bowman, and Harriet Richards. What BBC Earth commissioned was an online quantitative study, in partnership with an international panel company that would conduct a multi-country online data collection to explore the hypothesis that “watching content from Planet Earth II could improve the sensation of positive emotions and reduce the sensation of negative emotions.” They used five clips in the study. Two from Planet Earth II, one from a drama, one a collection of news, and a control video. The result? According to their study they “found a range of significant results evidencing not only that watching content from Planet Earth II inspired significant increases in feelings of awe, contentedness, joy, amusement and curiosity, but that it also acted to reduce feelings of tiredness, anger, and stress. In the majority of cases, changes in emotions were caused by the type of content viewed, and significantly different from the control group.” They found the data supported their conclusion that watching Planet Earth II “inspires positive changes in the emotions that are distinct to the nature history genre.”
There is a lot of information within the article about how they conducted the research, the methods used, and all manner of scientific reasoning that is fascinating. But it seems as if this is something guests coming to the NatureTrack Film Festival already intuitively know! Our supporters are excited to see our films because being in nature, experiencing nature, and/or watching films about nature makes them happy. Learning about the natural world, learning about our global impact and possible solutions to mitigate that impact, learning about new flora and fauna, and places to explore – that makes us excited.
Our filmmakers have a passion for nature, and that passion is transmitted through the films they share with us. We absorb that passion and feel reinvested and engaged in the world around us, and that feeling of engagement makes us happier people who want to pass this engagement with nature onto others. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! It’s the gift that makes people really happy.
NTFF filmmakers use their talent to share a visual gift with us in the hope that we will share that inspirational gift with others, which is exactly what the NatureTrack Foundation docents do on a regular basis.
The spark of excitement that a child feels when discovering a new butterfly or that life exists in many forms under, on, and around a rock makes a docent smile in responsive delight. And using docent training and expertise to expand that knowledge to encompass the idea that a simple rock is part of a larger geological trend that formed the hills, valleys, and shores the class may be walking through, builds up to sharing information about fragile ecosystems manifested within those geological formations, overlapping other ecosystems, all combining to produce an environment that is interconnected! By encouraging discovery and thought, the kids who travel the trails with a NatureTrack docent understand that we, as humans, are a part of that environment and have a responsibility to understand our impact so that we can continue to enjoy pristine areas and pass those pristine areas onto the next generation.
Along with learning to be a good steward, NatureTrack kids learn that nature makes them happy. Rock hopping is fun! Sitting quiet and observing allows them to see, hear, and smell details that they hadn’t noticed before! Sharing discoveries with their classmates brings them together! And breathing in the fresh air clears their senses and makes them laugh!
While it’s nice to have a scientific study confirm that watching nature documentaries makes us happy and NatureTrack is honored to bring films that “Ignite a passion for nature” to Los Olivos every year, the NatureTrack Foundation, its docents, and the over 18,000 kids that have walked the trails have “field” tested a hypothesis, over many years, that experiencing nature firsthand makes you happy. Our conclusion? Yes, nature brings unlimited happiness that when exposed to at a young age has a lifelong effect!
#BBCEarth #realhappinessproject #naturemakesushappy