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Blue Mind: How Water Makes You Happier, More Connected and Better at What You Do

Wallace J. Nichols explains our longing for water in his new book “Blue Mind”.

Text + Photos Cindy Ruch

We all have water stories to tell. Think back to your last lakeside holiday or bike ride down a riverbank, your last long walk on a beach or peaceful swim a calm sea…

What is it about this aquatic element that draws us in, time and time again?

It is precisely this question which Wallace J. Nichols sets out to answer in his book Blue Mind: How Water Makes You Happier, More Connected and Better at What You Do. The Californian marine biologist dives headfirst into water science, neuroscience, biology and medicine to find out why water makes us happier and healthier human beings:

“Several years ago I came up with a name for this human-water connection: Blue Mind, a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water and elements associated with water (…).” (Nichols: Blue Mind)

Intuitively, we all recognise that water brings us joy. Many of us dream of owning a little cottage by a lake. We frantically flee the cities we call home to in search of relaxation in the great outdoors. In summer, we seize every opportunity to cool off in refreshing bodies of water. Nichols explores these behaviours and sensations.

takemetothelakes Lake Stories Blue Mind 1 Cindyruch

He provides us with food for thought by surfacing scientific studies, conversations with water enthusiasts, and quotes from literature. In doing so, he strikes a sensitive chord in our lake-loving hearts:

“Fall more deeply in love with water in all its shapes, colors, and forms. Let it heal you and make you a better, stronger version of yourself. You need water. And water needs you now.” (Nichols: Blue Mind)

Water relaxes us.

We reflect on its powers every time we find ourselves admiring glistening surfaces. It surrounds us – we carefully push through its embrace as we swim, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness as we float on its surface. Water can have meditative effects on our minds.

Water sparks our creativity.

Whether we observe flowing water from the comfort of our desks or the centre of a lake, our imaginations run free.
„There is something about being in water and swimming which alters my mood, gets my thoughts going, as nothing else. Theories and stories would construct themselves in my mind as I swam to and fro, or round and round Lake Jeff.“ (Oliver Sacks in Nichols: Blue Mind)

Moby Dick, a shark attack over 200 years ago, rapidly rising waterfront property prices – Nicholas tells stories that captivate. He gives voice to athletes, scientists, fishermen, artists and children. He creates a flood of water stories.
We cannot help but draw comparisons between his body of work and our own approach to water. We are reminded of how great we feel at the end of a day spent by a lake. This book reawakened our awareness about the importance of water for our blue planet, and why we must do everything in our power to protect it.

Wallace J. Nichols: Blue Mind. How water makes you happier, more connected and better at what you do. ISBN 978-0-349-13957-9. Abacus.


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