As with plants, we evolved in nature alongside animals and they hold a natural fascination for us. Of course, that is not a surprise, since animals were often our meal, or we theirs! Animals also alert us to danger or indicate that all is right in the world. So watching wild animals is naturally interesting to us and offers a welcome distraction from life’s worries. In addition, with many animals we feel a natural tenderness, a reaction that is harnessed in the emerging field of animal-assisted interactions to enhance a sense of connection and healing.
You don’t need to get a pet to benefit, although there is a large body of research showing the benefits of pet ownership, including lower blood pressure, depression , and anxiety—and a built-in exercise  program! You can benefit simply by allowing yourself time to watch the birds and other wild animals in your yard or a neighboring park.
You can benefit further by contributing to the welfare of wild creatures around the world and helping to protect the biological diversity that our ecosystems need.
Our relationship with nature is not a one-way street. Our connection with nature demonstrates that we need to protect it—for its sake and for our own. To do that, begin by educating yourself on what you can do to live sustainably .
As we discuss in Our Global Environment , even small steps can make a big difference. Think about where you can reduce your consumption of limited resources and reduce your waste. Can you bike to work a couple of days a week? Choose clothing that will last more than one season? Start with something that you like and can easily incorporate into your life and build from there.
Be an advocate for nature, because the wellbeing of nature depends on us.