Text: Neda Vedadian

16. Oct 2015

How the medium of light correlates with human well-being

People from all walks of life, of varying ages and differing cultures are frequently amazed when they gaze out to sea across shimmering dunes or when they witness a stunning sunset. It seems as though light has a magical power which can bring an essence of hope and happiness to our lives.

This article discusses how the medium of light correlates with human well-being, generating pleasurable experiences and supporting positive feelings, the aim being to consider ways to go about creating the illusion of nature in an indoor environment. The poetic aspect of lighting design is as important as the practical qualities. The technique discussed here looks specifically at regenerating patterns created by the interaction of natural sunlight and water, focusing on dynamic caustic networks – a term from the field of optics describing the envelope of light rays reflected or refracted by a curved surface or object. Psychological investigations have recently been made into a new phenomenon called positive psychology or the psychology of strengths (Seligman, M. E. P., Authentic Happiness, 2002). The research entails studying deep positive emotions which eventually lead to psychological, physical and social well-being (Ryff C. D., Singer B., Psychological Well-Being: Meaning, Measurement, and Implications for Psychotherapy Research, 1996, Carruthers C.P., Hood C. D., The Power of the Positive: Leisure and Well-Being, 2004). Subjective well-being can be enhanced by decreasing negative moods and increasing positive moods and life satisfaction (Seligman M. E. P., Learned Optimism, 1991). The main intention of positive psychology is to learn how to build the assets and strengths necessary to not only cope, but to thrive. An interesting and valued side effect is that the assets and strengths that allow people to thrive also buffer against stress and prevent both mental and physical illness (Seligman M., Csikszentmihalyi M, Positive Psychology: An introduction, 2000). Psychologists endeavour to understand how daily experiences can contribute to a happy life. One such daily experience is being connected to nature. Humans have evolved from living a purely outdoors lifestyle with exposure to all elements to modern societies where it is possible to spend days on end indoors without the need to venture outside at all (at home, in a vehicle, at work). […]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 99

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