Webb Therapy Uncategorized Nature’s Effect On Our Mental Health

Nature’s Effect On Our Mental Health

Adapted from Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, Institute Inbrief, Edition 359.

Good day readers! How are you? … Shit? Depressed? Anxious? Angry? First of all, if you’re someone who says “I feel shit”, I would encourage you to use a more accurate descriptor instead of shit. Tell your brain what emotion or feeling you are experiencing. Shit can mean a lot of things. When we’re able to identify an emotion, it’s more likely we’ll be able to regulate or manage it. When I was learning Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, they had a saying: Name it to claim it to tame it. They also encouraged us to distance our identity from our feelings e.g., “I’m having the feeling that I’m angry” rather than “I’m angry”. I know it sounds like simple fluff but there is a profound difference between observing the experience of anger, loneliness, fear, guilt etc. and believing we (the self) are the embodiment or a manifestation of an emotion.

Alright, moving along to the subject of the article. The Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors sent me their monthly (I think it’s monthly) Institute Inbrief. If you’re someone who has lived with a mental health disorder or emotional difficulties for a long time, being in nature is not really a new antidote from the field. And it’s not always as simple as just going out into nature. When I was deep in the abyss of my own depression, there wasn’t a lot that would change my mood or perception of life. But, we do these practices anyway – and that’s kind of the point. It’s a practice. It may have to be initiated using a bit of self-force. Oftentimes, motivation comes after we begin the motion.

So, here are some examples from the article that support ‘nature has a therapeutic effect for the mind and body’:

  • One study found that women who looked at pictures of nature for two minutes had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (Gillespie, et al., 2019).
  • Another study showed that people who walked in a forest preserve showed lower levels of hostility, aggression and anxiety than they did before the walk.
  • Gregory Bratman, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, and colleagues shared evidence that contact with nature is associated with increases in happiness, subjective well-being, positive affect, positive social interactions and a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as decreases in mental distress (Science Advances, Vol. 5, No. 7, 2019).

How can we most effectively reap the mental health benefits that nature offers?

Why nature?

I’m aware we’re in Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions at the moment (27/09/2021) so you will need to determine for yourself if what proceeds to be written is practical and realistic for you right now.

We need to understand that the psyche of the human-being is linked to the natural world in many important ways. The human brain constantly processes and assimilates incoming information, and it relies on external stimuli for guidance regarding how to think and behave. Not only does incorporating nature into our daily lives help us understand the world better, but it can also contextualise ourselves in accordance with this understanding; humans – as an animal – have evolved in tandem with the natural world, and thus it is able to promote the development of beneficial skills including improved visual–spatial acuity, attentional abilities, and memory (Oddie, 2019). Our world is full of beautiful and intricate natural structures, and even just a simple walk through a park can provide us with moments of joy, awe, and wonder (Fiebert et al., 1980; Lefebvre & Brucker, 2018).

Additionally, the seemingly chaotic stimulus that nature provides us with promotes creativity and abstract thought (Berman, et al., 2012); these qualities have been the cornerstone of our species’ evolutionary development over the past few thousand years, thus illustrating the primacy of our relationship with nature.

Our neurobiology is extremely complex, and as such cannot be reduced to simple terms. However, we can say with some certainty that our brains’ sophisticated processing systems are enhanced by our interactions with nature. Our brain naturally integrates external stimuli into existing mental frameworks—this is referred to as “cognitive recursion” (Oddie, 2019). This means that if we spend our time in environments that were designed and created by the human mind, then we are putting ourselves in an echo chamber of stimulus and will not receive new information to broaden our mental capabilities. If we spend time in nature surrounded by structures and patterns that are born of unfathomably complex and foreign processes, then our minds can assimilate this new content into its existing understanding of reality.

Basically, if you spend your days in a white cube (i.e. a house) then your mental framework will be limited to the creative potential that a white cube suggests. If, however, you spend your days in an ever-changing fractal world of colours and shapes (i.e. natural environments) then your mind will reflect this, and adopt an expanded creative potential in order to perceive and understand its surroundings. This is a powerful reality; understanding how our connection with nature nourishes our minds is where spirituality meets both science and intuition.

What benefits does nature offer?

Perhaps the most important and relevant aspect of an active lifestyle in nature is its ability to reduce stress. Studies have shown that taking a walk in a park could decrease stressful thoughts, and even reduce blood pressure (Bush, et al., 2016; Robins, 2020). This finding demonstrates that simply being exposed to nature can decrease stress levels, and implies that returning to nature may be an effective way of keeping our mental health at its best. And here’s the kicker: any amount of time spent in nature is net-gain for your mental wellbeing (Robins, 2020). There is no threshold or minimum a dosage of nature that will have an effect on you – even just spending a short time sitting in your backyard enjoying nature will likely have a positive impact on your mental health.

Other studies have also shown that exposure to nature has an effect on our emotional outlook; particularly in regards to relieving us from pessimistic and fearful thinking (Lefebvre & Brucker, 2018). Life in the modern world is full of consequential decisions and options, the outcomes of which can dictate the quality of your entire life. Decision making is one of the more neurologically complex and taxing processes that our brains undertake, and research has shown that we make 35,000 choices per day (Huston, 2018).

This process involves assessing each option for its individual merit, sorting each option into a hierarchy in relation to every other option, making predictions about every possible positive and negative outcome of each option, and then weighing each outcome against that of every other option; golly, how exhausting! The fear and pessimism arises because each option invariably comes with the potential for myriad negative outcomes, and we are constantly coerced into assessing these. Thankfully, nature offers respite from all this noise. Spending time in nature relieves us from overthinking by presenting us with very few options, each with relatively inconsequential outcomes; ‘where will I sit while I drink from my water bottle?’ or ‘should I take the path leading towards the lookout, or the waterfall?’ are not taxing decisions to make, and will not prompt fearful or pessimistic thought patterns. There is an easiness to natural environments in which things seem to flow along their own course, and we are able to simply jump into the stream and flow along with it.

Aside from experiential benefits, time in nature can help us orient ourselves in the world in more grounded and productive ways. In today’s society, our attentional abilities are sapped by large corporations who profit from our distractibility, and it seems as though a way to remedy this mental breach is routine contact with nature. Attentional abilities are bolstered by spending time in nature (Ebata & Izenstark, 2017), making you less susceptible to the temptations of modernity (i.e. problematic social media scrolling, binging streaming services, etc).

Thus, making time in nature a priority in our lives – especially when we do not even feel stressed or anxious – can help us orient ourselves to the world around us and find a sense of personal empowerment. Taking time to be immersed in nature can help us regain confidence, ground us in a personal sense of meaning, and re-establish our wellbeing. Being in nature is correlated with increased positive emotions and feelings of control over one’s life (Chowdhurry, 2021), so even if we do not believe we need some sort of mental intervention, the benefits are there for everybody to experience.

How can I fit more nature-time into my life?

For the most part, we only need to reflect on our daily behaviours to see how we can incorporate time in nature into our lives. James Clear, in his wildly popular book Atomic Habits (2018), suggests incorporating a “budding habit” into an existing habit.

So for instance, if you have a lunch break during the work day, you could spend it outside on a park bench instead of in the staff room. If you come home at the end of the day and like to sit on the couch with a book, go outside and sit on the grass instead. These are simply ways to adopt more nature-time into your life, without having to add another separate activity to your schedule. In a 2017 study (Austin, et al., 2017), some participants were asked to take a brief walk in nature once per day, and other participants weren’t. The results showed that those who walked daily had higher levels of positive emotions and well-being than those who walked less. It doesn’t take a lot of time to nourish our minds in the deep ways that only nature offers us, and it seems to be a worthwhile habit to form.

Making the time to experience nature is easy to ignore in lieu of more ‘important’ tasks. That walk in the park you planned on taking this afternoon suddenly seems overshadowed by a looming deadline or a sink full of dirty dishes. For this reason, it can be beneficial to keep yourself accountable by planning nature-time with other people. Planning to go for a walk with friends means there is a lower likelihood of cancelling. Better yet, if you can join a weekly community group or class of some sort then you won’t even have to continually plan your time in nature.

There are volunteer groups who aid revegetation in nature reserves, there are community gardens who need people to tend to plants and crops, and there are clean up groups who dispose of discarded rubbish in bush-lands. If volunteering isn’t appealing to you, then you could change your routine by canceling your gym membership in lieu of outdoor exercise classes or yoga, or even new activities like cycling or rowing. Making scheduled appointments to spend time in nature can assist those who have trouble achieving this with sheer willpower, and your mental health will thank you for it.

Our acknowledgment of the value of time spent in nature is growing each day, which is why more urban living environments are incorporating ‘green spaces’ into their design. Using the latest neuroscience research, we are able to determine which types of natural environments compliments our mental states the most effectively. For example, it has been found that areas with high levels of biodiversity can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depressions more-so than those with low levels of biodiversity (Wyles, et al., 2019). Similarly, people who watched videos featuring a diverse array of flora and fauna reported lower anxiety and higher vitality than those who watched videos of less biodiverse landscapes (Wolf, et al., 2017).

Findings like these offer valuable insight into how we can engineer our surroundings to best facilitate the highest levels of wellbeing possible. It is clear that spending time in nature is invaluable for our mental health, but a half-hour lunch break doesn’t give us time to go hiking through a biodiverse mountain landscape; what we can do, however, is have access to green spaces which replicate the stimulus that we would receive if we were in nature. This has proven to be an eloquent solution to the pressing issue of depression rates in urban CBD areas (Ebata & Izenstark, 2017).

Summary

In conclusion, the role of nature in our lives is of paramount importance to our health and should be a priority for us all. Although it may feel like adding a daily walk outside to our schedules would be in futility, the positive mental health benefits outweigh the costs significantly. Making time in nature a priority, no matter how little, can greatly increase our overall sense of wellbeing, and remind us that we are interconnected to the living world around us.

There is no minimum threshold required to reap the benefits of nature, so we can all find a way to capitalise on just a little bit of time in natural environments. As a species, it is our natural disposition to enjoy the outdoors, and the benefits are more abundant than you might expect. So pop on a pair of joggers, Google search ‘hikes near me’, phone a friend, and get out there amongst the fresh air; you can thank us later!

References:

  1. Berman, M. G., Kross, E., Krpan, K. M., Askren, M. K., Burson, A., Deldin, P. J., . . . Jonides, J. (2012, November). Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Retrieved from: Website.
  2. Bush, R., Dean, J., Lin, B., & Fuller, R. (2016). Health Benefits from Nature Experiences Depend on Dose. Scientific Reports.
  3. Chowdhury, M. (2021, February 19). The Positive Effects Of Nature On Your Mental Well-Being. Retrieved from: Website.
  4. Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones. London: RH Business Books.
  5. Hunter, M. R., Gillespie, B. W., & Chen, S. Y. (2019, March 15). Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers. Retrieved from: Website.
  6. Huston, M. (2018). How Many Decisions Do We Make Each Day? Retrieved from: Website.
  7. Izenstark, D., & Ebata, A. (2017). The Effects of the Natural Environment on Attention and Family Cohesion: An Experimental Study. Children, Youth, and Environments.
  8. Wyles, K. J., White, M. P., Hattam, C., Pahl, S., King, H., & Austen, M. (2017). Are Some Natural Environments More Psychologically Beneficial Than Others? The Importance of Type and Quality on Connectedness to Nature and Psychological Restoration. Environment and Behavior, 51(2), 111-143. doi:10.1177/0013916517738312

Related Post

OCD: tips for self-managementOCD: tips for self-management

People living with obsessive-compulsive disorder are encouraged to follow three general tips for effective self-management. They are: challenge the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours (this includes use of distraction skills, and resisting the compulsion), maintain high self-care (you may need to put your needs first a lot – this is NOT selfishness or self-centredness), and reaching out for support. I want to clarify that I am not trained or qualified in OCD treatment – this is an extract from an article posted on the Australian Institute of Professional Counselling website.

The following information has been retrieved from AIPC Article Library | Self-help Strategies for OCD and OCPD. I think it’s also important to reinforce that if you have been living with OCD for years, you’re probably the expert on what is already most effective for you, and some of the following suggestions may make you roll your eyes. It can be very helpful/useful to talk to other people who live with OCD. They may understand your experience better than health workers, and this can be comforting, validating and healing.

Challenge the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. In addition to refocusing, the OCD client can learn to recognise and reduce stress. Some of the strategies here are counter-intuitive. You can urge clients to “go with the flow” by writing down obsessive thoughts, anticipating OCD urges, and creating “legitimate” worry periods. Tell them to:

Write down your obsessive thoughts or worries. Keep a pen and pad, laptop, tablet, or smartphone nearby. When the obsessive thoughts come, simply write them down. Keep writing as the urges continue, even if all you are doing is repeating the same phrases over and over. Writing helps you see how repetitive the obsessions are and also causes them to lose their power. As writing is harder than thinking, the obsessive thoughts will disappear sooner.

Anticipate OCD urges. You can help ease compulsive urges before they arise by anticipating them. For example, if you are a “checker” subtype, you can pay extra attention the first time you lock the window or turn off the jug, combining the action with creating a solid mental picture of yourself doing the action, and simultaneously telling yourself, “I can see that the window is now locked.” Later urges to check can then be more easily re-labelled as “just an obsessive thought”.

Create an OCD worry period. Rather than suppressing obsessions or compulsions, reschedule them. Give yourself one or two 10-minute “worry periods” each day, times you are allowed to freely devote to obsessing. During the periods, you are to focus only on negative thoughts or urges, without correcting them. At the end of the period, let the obsessive thoughts go and return to normal activities. The rest of the day is to be free of obsessions and compulsions. When the urges come during non-worry periods, write them down and agree to postpone dealing with them until the worry period. During the worry time, read the list and assess whether you still want to obsess on the items in it or not.

Create a tape of your OCD obsessions. Choose a specific worry or obsession and record it into a voice recorder, laptop or smartphone, recounting it exactly as it comes into your mind. Play the recording back to yourself over and over for a 45-minute period each day, until listening to it no longer causes you to feel highly distressed. This continuous confrontation of the obsession helps you to gradually become less anxious. When the anxiety of one worry has decreased significantly, you can repeat the exercise for a different obsession (Robinson et al, 2013).

Maintain good self-care. A healthy, balanced lifestyle plays an important role in managing OCD and the attendant anxiety (generally present with OCD, even though the disorder is no longer classified as an “anxiety disorder” per se), so the helpfulness of the following practices – truly not rocket science – cannot be underscored. Encourage OCD clients to:

  • Practice relaxation techniques, for at least 30 minutes a day, to avoid triggering symptoms.
  • Adopt healthy eating habits, beginning with a good breakfast followed by frequent small meals – with much whole grain, fruit and vegetable – throughout the day to avoid blood sugar lows and to boost serotonin.
  • Exercise regularly; it’s a natural anti-anxiety treatment. Get 30 minutes plus of aerobic activity most days.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine, as these increase anxiety after the initial effects wear off.
  • Get enough sleep; a lack of it exacerbates anxious thoughts and feelings (Robinson et al, 2013).

Reach out for support. Staying connected to family and friends is the best defense an OCD client can muster against intrusive obsessions and compulsive urges, because social isolation exacerbates symptoms. Talking about worries and urges makes them seem less threatening. Also, involving others in one’s treatment can help maintain motivation and guard against setbacks. To help remind the client that s/he is not alone in the struggle with OCD, ask him or her to consider joining a support group, where personal experiences are shared and attendees also learn from others facing similar problems.

OCPD: Self-help strategies for survival

For both the person diagnosed with OCPD and also for his family and friends, dealing with this disorder requires patience, compassion, and fortitude. To start with, the ego-syntonic nature of OCPD means that the person does not necessarily agree that he has anything wrong at all. For those who staunchly continue to insist that their relational problems arise because of others’ faults, treatment is complicated. Given the OCPD’s general world view of “I am correct; you are wrong”, the prognosis for change is often poor. Transformation is likely to occur only when the OCPD’s relational skills and outlook are shifted. This is not a job for medication (at least not for long and not alone), and yet psychotherapy is not always available. When it is, the OCPD is not always willing to avail himself of it.

Regardless of this less-than-ideal context for managing OCPD, there are some things that the client himself and also friends and family can do to alleviate some of the tension and conflict that goes with living with the disorder. As a therapist, you can encourage the client and those around him to utilise some of these strategies.

Bibliotherapy. It’s a good idea to read up on OCPD, not only in order to know what to expect, but also for tips in dealing with it. Your client may also come upon writings that link some behaviours and lifestyle choices to the disorder in ways not understood before. When comprehension deepens, so, too, does the prospect of compassion.

Gentle confrontation (agreed beforehand). While we agree that OCPD clients have a mammoth need to be right, those clients who truly seek to feel better may be willing to make agreements with family and friends in which OCPD behaviours, when noticed, are gently challenged; the operative word here is gently.

Self-insight through journalling or tape-recording. We noted above that many OCPD clients are intelligent, sensitive people. Thus, keeping a diary or making voice recordings to note anything upsetting, anxiety-provoking, overwhelming, or depressing is a step toward the self-insight that will eventually help to manage the disorder. Too, family and friends may agree to note their observations and share them in a constructive, non-confrontational manner.

Good self-care. OCPD is a disorder about exaggerated need for control, so keeping on an emotional even keel can help reduce the unconscious need to micro-manage all of life. Strategies to achieve this are listed above under Tip 2 for maintaining self-care with OCD. They revolve around the basic life efforts of practicing relaxation techniques, adopting healthy eating and exercise regimens, getting decent sleep, and avoiding excessive alcohol/drug consumption (the last is not hard for the OCPD).

Reaching out for help. OCPD individuals tend to be loners, and relationships are hard for them to build and maintain. Nevertheless, it is helpful to the ultimate reduction of OCPD-engendered tension to go for support. This can be in the form of self-help groups, informal support from partner, family, and friends, or even from joining online communities of people dealing with the disorder. Whatever the form of the support, it may be helpful for OCPD clients to own their places of dysfunction when they see others owning their imperfect humanness – and surviving (Robinson et al, 2013)!

References

  • Long, P. (2011). Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. Internet mental health. Retrieved on 18 April, 2013, from: hyperlink.
  • Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2013). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Symptoms and treatment of compulsive behaviour and obsessive thoughts. Helpguide.org. Retrieved on 24 April, 2013, from: hyperlink.

Cognitive (thinking) ErrorsCognitive (thinking) Errors

Well, hello and good morning, afternoon, and evening readers. I truly hope you’re swimming in the pleasantries of life rather than keeping your head above water in the unpleasant swamp. HOPE = Hold On Pain Ends. And there’s generally a learning or personal growth that comes after the storm of every painful experience, even if it’s simply greater empathy and compassion for others.

Today’s the day to learn or remember the fallacies of the human mind. I am not as smart as I look, haha. Have you heard of heuristics before? In cognitive psychology, a heuristic is a mental “shortcut” that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently. They can be very helpful in many situations, but they can also lead to cognitive biases, errors in thinking, and even perhaps without the mental shortcut, our thinking is often filled to the brim with cognitive distortions, assumptions and fallacies (faults). Awareness raising is probably the first step to identify our own cognitive traps and also identify them in others. Cognitive errors are natural – we all have them. Below are some cognitive distortions/errors to be aware of when we reflect on our interactions with people, during personal reflection, and when making meaningful decisions or judgements.

  • ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING (aka. POLARISED THINKING, SPLITTING, and BLACK-AND-WHITE THINKING: is extreme thinking i.e., the error in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism. Before you think “I must have really shitty thinking because I do this ALL the time”, give yourself a break. If you’re thinking in black and white, you probably internalised this from social media, television and movies, your family of origin and the broader society. Be mindful of using extreme, dichotomist terms, such as “failure”, “success”, “best”, “worst”, “freezing”, “boiling”, “everything”, and “nothing”. If you think “I’m a terrible person”, that is bullshit and inaccurate. You may have behaved terribly for a period of time towards yourself, to someone else, or towards some “thing”, but we cannot discount all the NON-terrible qualities about you. We must THINK in DIALECTICS i.e., the ability to view issues from multiple perspectives with reason and wisdom or in other words being able to have two contradictory viewpoints, where a greater truth emerges from their interplay. The truth is, if you think you’re a terrible person, there’s also virtuous person in there too.
  • OVERGENERALISTION: The words “always”, “every” and “never” come into play here, and you have an unshakable “rule” or “conviction” about yourself, something, or someone, based on one or two incidences. Overgeneralising is “a cognitive distortion in which an individual views a single event as an invariable RULE, so that, for example, failure at accomplishing one task will predict an endless pattern of defeat in all tasks.” Coming into the present moment and being specific can be helpful if you are someone who overgeneralises. You may also want to ask yourself if what your saying is the really the truth. Is it really accurate or correct. There’s an assumption that because something has happened once or a few times that it’s like going to happen every time. Remember, the words “always”, “every”, and “never” frequently appear in this cognitive “trap”. I encourage you to look at the big picture and ask yourself if what you’re saying or thinking is accurate. Overgeneralisations tend to be vague and board statements e.g., “I always get every red light”. Perhaps this is part of our evolutionary negativity bias. We tend to notice the so-called “bad” and overlook the so-called “good”. If you find yourself using overgeneralisations that suggest a future prediction (e.g., “I’ll never get a partner) … use some humour – you may have big balls but neither one of them are crystal – VEEP. If there is some truth to unusually frequent and specific situations that are making your life unpleasant, validate them, talk to someone, and brainstorm some solutions. We humans have plenty of blind spots that others can see sometimes.

  • MENTAL FILTER: is considered to be the opposite to OVERGENERALISATION the mental filter takes one small event and focuses on it exclusively, filtering out anything else that’s relevant. Filtering out the positive and focusing on the negative can have a detrimental impact on your mental well-being. Filtering out the so-called “negative” can also make one a bit hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence), arrogant, vain and conceited – and then you’re just a stone’s throw away from narcissism.

  • PERSONALISATION AND BLAME: Personalization and blame is a cognitive distortion whereby you entirely blame yourself, or someone else, for a situation that in reality involved many factors that were out of your control. I think this is a symptom of our wounded ego, or simply just the ego. As human’s we are egocentric, like children, and we often think that circumstances in our environment are solely because of our influence. For example, your friend isn’t behaving like they usually do, so it must be because you have done something.

Again, personalisation is an egocentric error in cognition. “Of course it has to do with me”, we think. It makes sense that we personalise things. We are the star of our own show, our own narrative. If you personalise something, it means we’ve directly influenced it – we are the primary cause. This may elicit internal pain, shame or guilt, so what’s the pay-off? Personalisation is a cognitive error that offers us the illusion of control e.g., “If we caused it then we will learn how to not cause it again, and maybe even undo what we have caused”. If you think about it, personalising something is something children do. Remember, there are infinite variables in any situation to take full credit of the outcome. That being said, it is responsible and mature to reflect objectively on the influence of our behaviour and what we can learn about our shortcomings.

Blame deserves it’s own blog post but in short, it can be defined as a defence mechanism to protect the self from feeling some unwanted emotion or thinking something unacceptable in relation to the “self”. Blaming provides a way of devaluing others, an the pay-off or reinforcement the blamer receives is a sense of superiority. It protects our ego from feeling responsible for something, and protects us from feeling guilt or shame. Perfectionists are very good at blaming others, and themselves. Even if you genuinely think faulting someone or something is valid, remember that no one is perfect. Recognise that you are human and others are fallible humans. As they say in recovery, “there is a bit of bad in the best of us and a bit of good in the worst of us“. We may have internalised from society and culture that we couldn’t make mistakes (because we receive “punishment” for making mistakes) but we must move beyond that now. As adults, we need to get real. Validate your experience because it may be very disappointing when we don’t meet others or our own expectations. We must nurture and care for the wounded child. Lets attend and befriend to our shortcomings and accept we are not superhuman. Learn to expect you will make mistakes. Failure is kind of an illusion, isn’t it? Or maybe a social construct? “Failure” is really learning – replace ‘failure’ with the word ‘feedback’. Would a cat or dog blame them self for a “mistake”? In the minds of animals, there’s no such concept as failure or a mistake.

Here’s a link to website “simplypsychology” that discusses a theory called Attribution Theory, an idea about how people explain the causes of behaviour and events: Attribution Theory – Situational vs Dispositional | Simply Psychology

The ‘Triune Brain’ theory by Neuroscientist Paul MacLean — an evolutionary perspectiveThe ‘Triune Brain’ theory by Neuroscientist Paul MacLean — an evolutionary perspective

The Concept of the "Triune Brain"

In the 1960s, American neuroscientist Paul MacLean formulated the ‘Triune Brain’ model, which is based on the division of the human brain into three distinct regions. MacLean’s model suggests the human brain is organized into a hierarchy, which itself is based on an evolutionary view of brain development. The three regions are as follows:

  1. Reptilian or Primal Brain (Basal Ganglia)
  2. Paleomammalian or Emotional Brain (Limbic System)
  3. Neomammalian or Rational Brain (Neocortex)

At the most basic level, the brainstem (Primal Brain) helps us identify familiar and unfamiliar things. Familiar things are usually seen as safe and preferable, while unfamiliar things are treated with suspicion until we have assessed them and the context in which they appear. For this reason, designers, advertisers, and anyone else involved in selling products tend to use familiarity as a means of evoking pleasant emotions.