I recently visited Idaho Falls for work, and rather than rest my head at the local corporate hotel, I slept in a yurt in the local mountains. I had no shower and no bathroom, but it was among the most powerful travel experiences I’ve had. I was surrounded by some of the most jaw dropping scenery I’ve experienced on US soil.
The research suggests that I was more productive during my work time because of my environs.
“Nature can provide cognitive benefits in much shorter timeframes, and in smaller amounts than previously demonstrated,” the authors concluded.
For anybody who toils all day at task after task in an office building, it’s hard to miss the implications. “Modern work drains attention throughout the day, so providing boosted ‘green micro-breaks’ may provide mental top-ups to offset declining attention,” said lead study author Kate Lee of the University of Melbourne
While the natural beauty surrounding me positively impacted my work, the quality of my trip was significantly enhanced by the care and dedication of my host. While I certainly would have left feeling strongly about the trip simply based on the surroundings, the breakfasts provided each morning elevated my trip to sublime. Humans can dramatically alter the moods of those they touch, particularly if they set out to do so. From Psychology Today:
For centuries, researchers have studied the tendency for people to unconsciously and automatically mimic the emotional expressions of others, and in many cases actually feel the same feelings simply by exposure to emotions in social interactions. Studies have found that the mimicry of a frown or a smile or other kinds of emotional expression trigger reactions in our brains that cause us to interpret those expressions as our own feelings. Simply put, as a species, we are innately vulnerable to “catching” other people’s emotions.
The scientific part of me laughs at the adage that “food made with love tastes better.” This experience forced me to question my own assumptions. Was it Cami’s skill, ingredients and creativity which were responsible for the execution of 3 of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had, or did the care she provided materially alter the experience? From the Daily Mail:
Researchers looking into human experience found…that patients in hospital felt less pain during procedures when they were carried out by a sweet-natured nurse.Professor Kurt Gray said: ‘The way we read another person’s intentions changes our physical experience of the world.
‘The results confirm that good intentions – even misguided ones – can soothe pain, increase pleasure and make things taste better.
So how does one inject love into the preparation of a meal?
Before my arrival, Cami and I discussed the timing for breakfasts. Each morning, they arrived promptly at 8 am, just as we agreed, presented in a picnic basket packed with obvious energy devoted to presentation. The ingredients were hand written and labeled, allowing me to feel confident in my choices every morning.
These breakfasts were huge, more than I could possibly eat. Better yet, even without direct interaction, my host took notice of my habits and altered accordingly. Day 1, she provided orange juice, which I didn’t drink. On day 2, apple juice appeared, with a label noting that it was “unsweetened pressed apple juice.” I used a small amount in my (9 grain) cereal but left the rest. Day 3 saw no juice in the basket.
These efforts, which require uncommon dedication and feel, left me with the strongest experience I’ve had in quite some time. Perhaps it was merely the merging of creativity, talent and presentation with the ambiance that was responsible for my mind-blowing food experience. Perhaps the energetic mysticism or whatever you want to label that thing was responsible. I walked away from Idaho Falls rejuvenated, restored and satiated.
Joshua Gurnick says
Ahh yurt life! A little over a year ago, I went on a road trip with my brother starting in Portland, Oregon and ventured through the Pacific Northwest to Vancouver, B.C. We camped most of the week except for two nights on Orcas Island, Washington. There we stayed in a yurt overlooking the amazingly beautiful Doe Bay. It was one of the most peaceful and relaxing experiences mostly because of the solitude but also because of the people that maintain the community of yurts. Living in simplicity and being surrounded by nature is my favorite way to get away from the craziness of everyday life. It truly does alter your mood and its the reason I try to get out on a camping trip at least twice a year. I highly recommend the yurt life for anyone that needs a break.
Like I say, Kap, work permitting (and sometimes not permitting) ya need to get out and hike every now and then.
There it is, isn’t it? How did we ever stray so far from it? It’s a bizarre world when we have to scratch our heads and wonder, “Wow, love, care, conscientiousness, and natural beauty, huh? Who would have ever thought that’s the answer.” Yet…I’ll bet your parents will get a chuckle from their son’s conclusions in this post if they happen to stumble across it. Just guessing, but maybe same message they sought to convey to you (and our parents to us) for all those years?
There is an expression in golf, ‘if you want to drive the ball farther, slow your swing down by 20%. If you REALLY want to drive a lot farther, slow it down another 20%. Sounds like you just nailed one!
That’s great, Kap! I lived in I.F. for 5+ years and during the summer, the area can’t be beat for its beauty (winters are another story altogether!). Pics look like you stayed in Ririe, just outside of town. Hope you enjoyed Chukar stadium – small, quaint, but nice for Rookie League ball.
John Lofflin says
Damn. No great breakfast but I tried altering the mood of my ballclub and it worked. I mean, it really worked. I just thought of all the positive ways I could change how guys — including me — saw things. How I wrote out and explained the lineup. What I said to guys about what they were doing — just looking for the things that would make what they did feel heroic and good. Next week I’ll bring hotdogs, maybe. Thanks much for the insight (as usual), Mr. Kappler.