Are you a “Biophiliac“? If you are reading this and happen to be human, you probably are.
The Compassion Games Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week coopetition is approaching quickly (April 18-26) with the goal to ignite and amplify compassionate action around the world to protect and celebrate our home, the Earth. At the Compassion Games Heartquarters we often say that “Green Compassion” (a term coined by Marc Barasch of the Green World Campaign) is the ultimate act of compassion, for its benefits reach far beyond our individual selves to all living beings who share this planet with us and to generations to come. As an ancient proverb says,
“Compassion is planting a seedling under whose shade you may never sit.”
Yet just because Green Compassion extends far beyond our individual selves doesn’t mean the profound personal benefits should be overlooked. Western science is beginning to show us just how significantly our own personal well-being is integrated with the natural world. Human beings – as Indigenous teachings imply – appear to be innately predisposed to connect with nature as a necessity for good health and mental well-being. Further, human beings may possess an inherent “biopilia”, or, a “love of life” that has been engendered by evolution and is cultivated by being immersed in nature and living systems. Feelings of awe have been identified as a key factor in this human-nature relationship.
In a research study conducted at the University of California – Berkeley “researchers have linked positive emotions — especially the awe we feel when touched by the beauty of nature, art, and spirituality — with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that signal the immune system to work harder” (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/awe_boosts_health?utm_source=GGSC+Newsletter+%232-+February+2015&utm_campaign=GG+Newsletter+%232+-+February+2015&utm_medium=email ). The study suggests that “… a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” says UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, a co-author of the study.
Another research study, “Awe Expands Perception of Time”, conducted at Stanford University reveals a similar reality. Participants in the study who experienced awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had more time available to them in their lives and were less impatient. Participants were also more willing to volunteer their time to help others (indicating a stronger sense of compassion and empathy), more strongly preferred experiences over material things, and reported higher overall life satisfaction. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120719161901.htm)
With the Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week coopetition, we hope to help further awaken a love for the Earth and all her inhabitants (including human beings!) that can be translated into a person’s everyday sense of awe, compassion, and happiness. Let’s channel our biophilia into compassionate action and loving stewardship of our one and only home, Mother Earth!
Introducing the Love This Place! Story Mapping Challenge for Earth Week
The Love This Place! Story Mapping Challenge is a fun, simple, and meaningful way to experience awe and express love for the places in nature that hold special significance for us. In this challenge, players identify their favorite places on Earth and capture them in a photo. These photos are then uploaded to an interactive and global crowdsourcing story map by ESRI where players can tell a story about their place and why it is important to them. These places are then geotagged and placed on the Love This Place! Story Map to be shared with participants around the world, lighting up our planet in a real and tangible way and celebrating our love for the Earth. Where are the places that are loved the most?! Can we identify 1,000 places that we love and share why we love them by Sunday, April 26th, the last day of the Serve the Earth Week coopetition? Game on!
In the Story Mapping Challenge, we honor and celebrate nature and our communities through photos and stories, inspiring in us a sense of awe and gratitude that can be translated into compassionate action for the Earth. In the words of renowned ecologist and ethologist Marc Bekoff, we practice “rewilding” ourselves and “becoming the seen” by understanding our intricate interdependence with all life. (Learn more about Marc’s work here: http://charterforcompassion.org/node/8482). Through the Compassion Games and the global map, we spread our empathy, awe and well-being to others, generating the power of “3D” compassion (caring for the Earth, others, & ourselves). Ultimately, by playing together, we are striving together toward a positive culture shift that is helping the world become a kinder and safer place to live for all beings, one act of biophilia at a time!