The results are in and nature (i.e. God) wins again. A Bureau of Labour Statistics survey in the US has found that lumberjacks and farmers are the happiest, least stressed and most fulfilled workers, further proving that everything we need to be joyful and satisfied in this life is not man-made. Nor does it have much, if anything, in common with the prevailing culture.
A Washington Post analysis of the survey noted that ‘The most meaningful and happiness-inducing activities were religious and spiritual, followed by ‘the second-happiest activity – sports, exercise and recreation’.
I am fond of harping about how a godless society is a miserable one. Ericka Andersen noted in USA Today last year how ‘broad-based evidence demonstrates that attendance at worship services is indispensable to a happy, generous, and flourishing society’. Yet despite resounding proof of religion’s benefits, American church attendance fell below 50 per cent for the first time last year, according to Gallup.
The health benefits of time spent outdoors are also well known (as is the zest for life inherent in the life of a lumberjack, as elucidated by Monty Python). As our attention spans continue to shrink, research shows that ‘going outdoors and spending time in nature can help to improve attention span in as little as 20 minutes’. Nature also reduces stress, boosts mood and engages all the senses at once (I’m pretty sure sawdust is the best smell in the world). In my limited experience with virtual reality, the only senses that were engaged were my eyes and the part of my brain that induces motion sickness.
It’s the same with sports, exercise and recreation. For 12 or more of our formative years, we had it drilled into us to ‘eat healthily and exercise’.