Go Ask Your Dad

More than ever, we need nature. It makes us and our children happier

Go Ask Your Dad is parenting advice with a philosophical bent as one dad explores what we want out of life, for ourselves and our children, through useful paradigms and best practices.

(CNN)With so many destinations of pleasure denied to us now, we may be developing a deeper appreciation of nature, wherever we can get them.

And we're lucky that getting outside, even while requiring social distancing, is still available to us during this pandemic.
On a recent hike through the woods, I explained to my daughters how we were doing three things that were simultaneously boosting our happiness at that moment.
    First, we were getting exercise, a proven mood booster. Second, we were spending quality time with loved ones, long associated with life happiness in surveys. And third, we were in nature.
      A walk in the woods is a trifecta of joy, and all it took was making a modest effort.
      Our local forays into nature always put us in a better head space, even when it's rainy or muddy, even when the kids get pooped, and even when they complain in advance of going. Once we are on the trail a switch is flipped. It is unfiltered adventure, discovery, connection and beauty. We are demonstratively happier.

      Scientifically so

        Research that is more scientific than my small experiment, backs up the mood I consistently recorded. My colleague Kristen Rogers did some exploring of her own and made discoveries about where the nature and happiness trails meet.
        Much of the research on how engaging with nature impacts eco-friendly behaviors and happiness has been focused on adults. But in a study published Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers examined the impact of a group of children's "connectedness to nature" on their sustainable behaviors and happiness.
        This kinship with nature was defined by researchers as a "characteristic of human beings that refers to thinking and feeling emotionally connected with all the elements of the natural environment, with feeling happier as a consequence."
        In a classroom in a Mexican city, nearly 300 children between ages of 9 and 12 responded to a questionnaire that measured their link to nature, eco-friendly behaviors and happiness