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Eight Master Lessons of Nature

What Nature Teaches Us About Living Well in the World

By Gary Ferguson
15-minute read
Audio available
Eight Master Lessons of Nature by Gary Ferguson

Eight Master Lessons of Nature (2019) is a reflective treatise on what nature can teach us about living well. Carefully observing many forms of life, from forest mushrooms to mighty elephants, the guide reveals valuable lessons they may hold for us. In doing so, it invites us to look again at the wild world around us with a renewed sense of awe and wonder.

  • City slickers seeking a greener life
  • Nature lovers looking for a deeper connection
  • Those searching for a more mellow approach to living

Gary Ferguson is an award-winning author, naturalist, and public speaker specializing in the intersection of ecology and psychology. He’s authored more than 25 books including The Carry Home, Shouting at the Sky, and Hawks Rest, which was the first ever to be named Book of the Year by both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Associations.

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Eight Master Lessons of Nature

What Nature Teaches Us About Living Well in the World

By Gary Ferguson
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Eight Master Lessons of Nature by Gary Ferguson
Synopsis

Eight Master Lessons of Nature (2019) is a reflective treatise on what nature can teach us about living well. Carefully observing many forms of life, from forest mushrooms to mighty elephants, the guide reveals valuable lessons they may hold for us. In doing so, it invites us to look again at the wild world around us with a renewed sense of awe and wonder.

Key idea 1 of 9

Approach the world afresh by embracing its mysteries.

When Albert Einstein faced a difficult problem, he had a small ritual to help break down his mental blocks. No, he didn’t hit the books or spend hours untangling equations on a chalkboard. He just stepped outside.

That’s right. When the great physicist reached his wit's end, he would wander out into the gardens around the university campus. There, he would quietly contemplate the scene around him. But, he wasn’t looking for any specific answers. He was merely observing the majesty of nature and letting the complexity of the earth’s ecosystems overwhelm him with awe.

For Einstein, understanding nature wasn’t the point. His goal was to clear his mind by accepting that the world would always remain somewhere beyond knowable.

Here’s the key message: Approach the world afresh by embracing its mysteries.

Einstein wasn’t the only scientist who felt inspired by the unknowable. Astronomer Carl Sagan, physicist Edward Witten, and primate behavioral scientist Jane Goodall have all spoken eloquently about the importance of mystery to their work. While these renowned scholars dedicated their careers to the study of the natural world, each has been quick to admit that some aspects of life will remain beyond our comprehension.

Accepting the awe-inspiring complexity of the natural world allows us to approach each day with a sense of wonder. Consider the curious nature of atoms. Each element is made up almost entirely of the empty space between the nucleus and its electrons. In fact, 99.9999 percent of anything is, at its core, almost nothing at all. Given this reality, it’s incredible that we can walk on the ground, pick up objects, or even exist.

Children are excellent at embracing this sense of wonder, which gives them a special affinity for the natural world. Just think of all the time kids spend playing with bugs, digging in dirt, or talking about animals. Nurturing this innate enthusiasm is the best way to encourage learning. A study from the American Institutes for Research even found that outdoor classrooms improve kids’ science test scores by 27 percent.

You, too, can tap into this power. Simply find a moment to experience nature. Step outside and turn off your analytical brain. Instead, focus on your senses; see the patterns in leaves, smell the pollen in the air, feel the sunlight on your skin. If it’s dark, gaze up and take in the marvel of the stars. You may not understand how it all fits together, but knowing that it does should fill you with renewed astonishment.

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