“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns!” – George Eliot
That wonderful time of the year: autumn. When the leaves start changing colors and the mornings are brisker. We all seem to love this time of the year, and science says there’s a reason why.
Not to mention all the pumpkin spice lattes! For some of us, we may enjoy filling our cellars with the summer’s harvests. We may like to pick out and carve our pumpkins. For others, it could be the natural colors and the way everything seems so much more beautiful when the trees turn red and yellow.
According to one survey, 29 percent of Americans say fall is their favorite season. And it seems that there’s actually a legitimate scientific reason for all the warm, fuzzy feelings we have for fall. Cozy sweaters, the warmth from drinking hot tea on a chilly morning, and the first fire in the fireplace. Why do we love autumn so much?
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Dartmouth sociology professor Kathryn Lively explained that many of us have been conditioned from a young age to anticipate and enjoy the autumn season and all the fun milestones that come with it. “As children, we come to associate fall with going back to school, new school supplies, seeing friends. It’s exciting, for most. We still respond to this pattern that we experienced for eighteen years,” Lively said.
And when you think about it, the changing leaves and the end of summer growing represents a new beginning. The crisp air and changing colors of the leaves in fall make this time feel different than say, New Year’s because it comes smack dab in the middle of winter. Whether we’re going back to school or not, the transition from one season to another can summon the same emotions we experienced when going back to school as kids. These inspired emotions could also inspire us to try new things, learn a new subject, or make a change in our lives.
While many parts of the world tend to think of spring as the season of renewal, fall is also a very good time for a fresh start. The vibrant orange colors and cooler weather of autumn appeal to your constant desire for change. The upcoming holidays inspire many to reflect back on the year that was and make plans for the year to come.
Scientific research on the concept of “temporal landmarks” shows that special times like birthdays or holidays, back to school, football season, Rosh Hashanah, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, can play a major role in bolstering our sense of motivation. Another study showed that this perception of a new beginning is temporal landmark which promotes the feeling of a fresh start that can inspire “aspirational behavior.”
Fall also marks a shift in our routines. We have to harvest anything we’ve planted and prepared our gardens for spring. We take the time to make sure our animals are prepared for the upcoming winter. We also take our kids to the bus stop or school. With the arrival of the autumn months, the slow, laid-back pace of summer evolves into a more regimented, fast-paced schedule, which for some personalities can be a powerful motivator in getting things done and even feeling more mentally balanced. And depending on where you live, there’s also the impact of the cooler temps on morale. Research has also shown that in many cases, warm weather can negatively impact our decision-making capabilities, whereas cooler weather helps us think more clearly.
Lively says we love autumn because it’s perceived as a “comforting” time. It’s cozy, warm sweater, hot cocoa, and hat season, and that’s why we love it!