Science is always trying to unlock the next big key to happiness. We all know that poverty can hurt your overall level of happiness, even though material wealth won’t buy happiness either. Life is about balance — and knowing exactly what you like wherever you are in life. For some people, the answer is birds. And it’s all according to science. One recent study published in Science Daily sheds some light on this strange phenomenon.
Lead author Joel Methorst said, “Europeans are particularly satisfied with their lives if their immediate surroundings host a high species diversity. According to our findings, the happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species.”
Here we have common misconception — i.e. that some people just hate the outdoors — against the reality of scientific studies and surveys. The Science Daily publication wasn’t the first to determine that more species equates to more happiness. A 2012 European Quality of Life Survey found that people were generally ten percent happier when living in environments with ten percent more birds. How about that?
Director of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre Katrin Bohning-Gaese said, “We also examined the socio-economic data of the people that were surveyed, and, much to our surprise, we found that avian diversity is as important for their life satisfaction as is their income.”
What’s the rub, though? Many bird habitats are disappearing — and the birds with them. Climate change won’t just have a noticeable impact on economic prosperity, sea levels, weather patterns, and temperature — it will also affect our overall happiness. As biodiversity continues to decline, so will our mental health.
Methorst added, “This poses the risk that human well-being will also suffer from an impoverished nature. Nature conservation therefore not only ensures our material basis of life, but it also constitutes an investment in the well-being of us all.”
The relevant studies discovered that the happiness increase that occurs when another 14 bird species live in the same habitat as you is the same as the one that occurs when you earn another $190 a month (guess we were lying when we said money couldn’t buy happiness — but hey, you know the deal: use it on travel and not material wealth, or it’s wasted). The studies based this finding on people with a static monthly income of $1,837 before the extra money was provided.
Interestingly, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in people spending far more time outdoors — especially those who have been laid off or fired from their jobs. It will be interesting to see how the overall mental health of our population has endured over the past twelve months. We’ll probably have to wait a bit longer for that study.