…and the place of most contentment, and creativity and healthfulness and healing.

While Disney Land flaunts itself as the “Happiest Place on Earth,” and Norway wins this year’s prize as the Happiest Country on Earth (US is a mere 14th.), intriguing research now pinged on 3 million Mappiness data points reveals another answer.  Mappiness is a multi-year project featuring volunteers to record their moods and activities twice a day at random times.  then it matches those responses to an exact GPS location from which it extracts the environmental characteristics.  The aim is simply:  What makes people happy?  Does place matter, or not?

Can you guess what the overwhelming results are showing?

The study showed, “participants are significantly and substantially happier outdoors in all green or natural habitat types than they are in urban environments.” Yet, perhaps not remarkably, Mappiness users were rarely found outdoors.  93% of the time, they were either indoors or in vehicles.  What Mappiness has sadly diagnosed: our epidemic dislocation from the natural world. We simply don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that time outside makes us healthier, more creative, more empathetic, and more apt to engage with the world and with each other.

While the poets and musicians have long shown us how vital time in nature is for our spirit, (Beethoven would hug a linden tree in his backyard and dedicate symphonies to landscapes), scientific research is now proclaiming a resounding, “Ditto.”

The happiest place on Earth is your own backyard, woods or meadow.