Corals Can Make You Happy

A newly installed Custom Aquarium in a living room in New a Jersey residence

We all know that too much screen time is bad for us; there’s loads of information out there that supports stepping away from our screen and stepping out into nature. We’re a huge advocate of doing just that, but some screen time may not be all bad.

A 2017 study examined the effect of videos in inducing awe. Chirico, et al. focused on the difference between virtual reality and 2D videos,  and the effect of awe. They found that VR induces greater intensity of awe. For our purposes, it doesn’t really matter if VR is better than 2D or not. We’re more interested in the fact that the videos can be effective in inducing awe. But if you have a VR setup, then you’re in luck!

But why awe and what’s the significance? Researchers have found that awe can lead to greater satisfaction towards life. This is especially interesting as it helps combat mental health issues like depression and other stress-related disorders, all without psychosomatic drugs, and the ‘treatment’ can be done in the privacy and comfort of one’s home. It’s indisputable that mental health is an issue that needs more attention. If treatment can be as simple as adding awe-inspiring videos to your daily routine, then this can be a very simple and mass adopted remedy. Obviously, we’re not suggesting that videos alone are a cure-all, but looking at the numbers, it does seem to suggest that they can be a highly effective tool. If you Raj’s most recent talk, you know he’s a huge proponent of tools and the more tools you have, the better.  If you could reduce stress and increase happiness during the day by watching a video, would you? Or better yet, watching the real thing with a gorgeous aquarium?

Scenes from Disney’s WALL-E come to mind, where the population is confined to floating chairs with screens in their faces at all times. As nature lovers, the thought terrifies us. But just as videos of exotic locations haven’t prevented anyone from traveling, we don’t think people will stop enjoying nature because of awe-inspiring videos. Bad weather, disabilities, and injuries can all prohibit people from enjoying nature at all times. It’s nice to think that firing up some videos can make your day just a bit better. We feel it’s important to highlight the additional benefits from exploring nature: physical exercise, fresh air, vitamin D from the sun, etc. All of these are factors that elevate mood, increase happiness, and improve overall health.

Before you get too excited, awe isn’t a one-sided emotion. Awe can also elicit negative emotions like fear and a diminished sense of self. So, it’s important to watch the right type of videos. We’d highly suggest sticking with the real thing, but we might be a bit biased!

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