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A ruthless Mexican drug lord’s empire is devastating families with its grip on small-town USA

With unparalleled speed, the cårtel jalisco nueva generación, or cjng, has set up shop in cities, towns and unsuspecting communities across america..

Somewhere deep in Mexico's remote wilderness, the world’s most dangerous and wanted drug lord is hiding. If someone you love dies from an overdose tonight, he may very well be to blame.

He's called " El Mencho ."

And though few Americans know his name, authorities promise they soon will.

RubĂ©n "Nemesio" Oseguera Cervantes is the leader of CĂĄrtel Jalisco Nueva GeneraciĂłn, better known as CJNG. With a $10 million reward on his head, he’s on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Most Wanted list.

El Mencho’s powerful international syndicate is flooding the U.S. with thousands of kilos of methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl every year — despite being targeted repeatedly by undercover stings, busts and lengthy investigations.

The unending stream of narcotics has contributed to this country’s unprecedented addiction crisis, devastating families and killing more than 300,000 people since 2013.

CJNG’s rapid rise heralds the latest chapter in a generations-old drug war in which Mexican cartels are battling to supply Americans’ insatiable demand for narcotics.

A nine-month Courier Journal investigation reveals how CJNG's reach has spread across the U.S. in the past five years, overwhelming cities and small towns with massive amounts of drugs.

The investigation documented CJNG operations in at least 35 states and Puerto Rico, a sticky web that has snared struggling business owners, thousands of drug users and Mexican immigrants terrified to challenge cartel orders.

How we reported this story

Throughout 2019, courier journal reporters analyzed thousands of court records and transcripts of more than 100 cjng-linked cases around the country and talked to more than 150 federal drug agents, police officers, defense attorneys and prosecutors, as well as relatives, co-workers and neighbors of those accused. the team traveled to 15 cities across the united states and to mexico city and guadalajara. reporters also reached out to more than two dozen alleged cartel members or associates..

It also identified at least two dozen "cells," which the DEA defines as places where cartel members set up shop to do business and live in the communities.

The unparalleled speed of CJNG’s growth coast to coast in less than a decade has made the cartel a “clear, present and growing danger,” says Uttam Dhillon, DEA's acting administrator.

The billion-dollar criminal organization has a large and disciplined army, control of extensive drug routes throughout the U.S., sophisticated money-laundering techniques and an elaborate digital terror campaign, federal drug agents say.

Its extreme savagery in Mexico includes beheadings, public hangings, acid baths, even cannibalism. The cartel circulates these images of torture and execution on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to spread fear and intimidation.

'They're killing the next generation'

'They're killing the next generation'

In Mexico, El Mencho is a household name.

But in America, few know who he is or why his rise to power matters.

In this wanted poster, the U.S. announces a rare $10 million reward for help finding El Mencho, a ruthless cartel boss and billionaire.

Brenda and Karl Cooley of Louisville certainly didn’t know his name when their son Adam overdosed on fentanyl in March 2017. Adam died midsentence while writing a thank-you note to a friend on the eve of entering a rehab facility.

Who was to blame? his anguished parents asked.

The answer, The Courier Journal found, kept pointing to CJNG.

"They’re killing the next generation, and one of them was my son," Brenda Cooley said.

Courier Journal reporters pieced together CJNG’s network, from the suburbs of Seattle, the beaches of Mississippi and South Carolina, California’s coastline, the mountains of Virginia, small farming towns in Iowa and Nebraska, and across the Bluegrass State, including in Louisville, Lexington and Paducah.

A cartel member even worked at Kentucky's famed Calumet Farm, home to eight Kentucky Derby and three Triple Crown winners.

Ciro Macias Martinez led a double life, working as a horse groomer by day and overseeing the flow of $30 million worth of drugs into Kentucky by night before being imprisoned in 2018 for meth trafficking and money laundering, federal records show.

El Mencho’s drug empire "is putting poison on the streets of the U.S.," said Chris Evans, who runs the DEA’s day-to-day global operations.

CJNG has skirted Mexican and U.S. inspections at legal border crossings by hiding drugs in semitrailers hauling tomatoes, avocados and other produce, dumping at least 5 tons of cocaine and 5 tons of meth into this country every month, according to DEA estimates.

It shows no signs of slowing down.

"It's important for all Americans to understand the threat to their community and what might impact their everyday lives," Evans said.

While officials can't say how much of the U.S. drug trade comes from CJNG, they predict the powerful organization is poised to supplant the more well-known and established Sinaloa Cartel as the world's most powerful drug trafficking organization.

CJNG’s increased distribution of fentanyl across the country has helped the synthetic opioid unseat heroin as the nation’s No. 1 killer.

The Courier Journal could not say with certainty who supplied the drugs that killed Adam Cooley. But federal agents say CJNG was Kentucky’s main supplier of fentanyl at the time of his death.

Throughout 2019, reporters analyzed thousands of court records of more than 100 criminal drug cases around the country and talked to more than 150 federal drug agents, police officers, defense attorneys and prosecutors.

They also contacted more than two dozen accused cartel members or CJNG associates in prison and traveled to Mexico City, Guadalajara and 15 U.S. cities to see firsthand the far-reaching repercussions of El Mencho’s cartel.

In social media posts, CJNG shows off its military-grade fire power, some of which is illegally bought in the U.S.

The investigation documented how in each new community, CJNG uses local traffickers who can blend in to sell their drugs, with no regard for their race or ethnicity.

"If it’s coming from a cartel, they could have sold a pound to Asians, black guys, outlaw motorcycle gangs, white trash," said Lt. Jeremy Williams, of the Ashe County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina. His testimony helped convict a trafficker connected to CJNG in 2014.

"Once the cartel brings a huge load across (the border) and throws it out there for everyone to sell, it’s out of their hands. They’ve got their money," Williams said.

El Mencho and his cartel, with more than 5,000 members worldwide, have a clear-cut objective:

"They want to control the entire drug market," said Matthew Donahue, who oversees foreign operations for the DEA.

"If that takes them killing other cartels or killing innocent people, they will do it."

CJNG's rapid rise to power and its expansion have stunned and stymied America’s top drug fighters.

"I was surprised that CJNG’s efforts and tentacles were reaching into Kentucky, that they had expanded their reach that rapidly,” said Evans, who previously headed the Louisville Field Division.

He got his first glimpse of CJNG’s success when he was overseeing drug cases in Los Angeles, a key cartel hub.

"I still expected that they would be in markets in the Southwest, a little bit into some of the other major corridors, such as Atlanta and Chicago,” Evans said.

Instead, The Courier Journal’s investigation documented cells where CJNG members moved in, settling into a luxury condo near downtown Nashville’s honky-tonk district; an upscale Hollywood high-rise apartment near Sunset Boulevard; and sidewalk-lined suburbs in Cairo, Illinois; Johnson City, Tennessee; and Kansas City, Missouri.

CJNG even established a cell in south-central Virginia, buying or renting a cluster of modest homes in Axton — an unincorporated community of roughly 6,500.

Cartel members openly drive around Mexico brazenly showing off their CJNG affiliation for citizens and police to see.

In Mexico, a DEA investigator said he was stunned when he learned CJNG cells were popping up in communities as small as Axton.

"What are they doing way out in the middle of nowhere?" he asked his team.

Hearing more details, the investigator, who asked not to be identified to protect his work, acknowledged to The Courier Journal: "It’s a great strategy."

CJNG members have followed relatives or friends who left Mexico for the U.S. to find jobs. The cartel exploits its connections with otherwise hard-working immigrants, said Dan Dodds, who leads DEA operations in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

And court records detail how the cartel lures those who need money to serve as drug or cash couriers or money launderers.

For example, a Lexington waitress seeking cash to pay for dental assistant courses ended up making bank deposits that she didn’t know were for CJNG, according to court transcripts.

She got her older sister, a struggling single mom, involved to make quick money.

Both are now in prison for money laundering, and her sister, who has two children living in Kentucky, faces deportation.

In cases in which immigrants resist the cartel's offer, CJNG members often threatened violence — to them or their loved ones back in Mexico, according to court cases and law enforcement officials.

Sheriff's investigators say a Paducah, Kentucky, business owner who fell behind on a drug debt was warned last year by the cartel: "If we don’t get our money, we’re gonna kill you and your family.”

The cartel's expansion into smaller, unexpected communities began to mushroom about five years ago as U.S. intelligence analysts tracked its movements far beyond border towns and major hubs.

Smaller towns. Smaller police forces. More unchecked opportunities.

"Big cities have big police departments and DEA, FBI and (Homeland Security Investigations) and an ability to look at intelligence and focus on their cells and contacts,” said the DEA's Donahue. 

"But it’s a little different when you go to Boise, Idaho, and other small towns where they don’t have the resources to really focus on an international cartel."

Americans who may not know of CJNG today should take note, Dodds said.

"I promise, you will hear more about El Mencho."

Filling America's drug demand

Filling America's drug demand

The Courier Journal's investigation into CJNG's surge comes during a recent wave of significant violence among warring drug cartels in Mexico.

In mid-October, 13 Mexican police officers were killed in an ambush in El Mencho's home state of MichoacĂĄn in western Mexico. Attackers in armored vehicles opened fire with high-caliber weapons, gunning down officers driving five SUVs.

CJNG took credit on social media for the massacre.

In a Nov. 5 tweet, after nine people — including six children — with dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship were killed by cartels  (though different ones than CJNG), President Donald Trump vowed to assist Mexican officials "in cleaning out these monsters."

"The cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!"

But Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declined Trump's offer for U.S. troops, saying his country doesn't need help.

Critics say the Mexican president, known as AMLO, seems more concerned about using federal troops to keep South American immigrants out of his country than challenging the cartels.  

The cartels, including CJNG, are feeling empowered because of the rampant violence in Mexico, said Paul Craine, a retired DEA supervisor who oversaw the U.S. hunt for El Chapo.

Relatives and members of the MichoacĂĄn police department pay tribute to 13 officers killed in an ambush on Oct. 14, 2019.

"That’s why these guys are flourishing.”

A high-ranking state official in Jalisco said Americans are too quick to blame Mexico for the U.S. drug crisis.

“We have all had a drug consumption problem," said the official, who asked not to be identified for his protection. "A very big, increasing problem.

"Your weapons laws (in the U.S.) are too weak," with American guns often ending up in the hands of cartel members in Mexico, he said.

"We have a problem of corruption. So instead of blaming, we should look for solutions.”

In America, Hispanic workers find themselves looked at with suspicion because of political rhetoric that brands the drug trade and immigration as one and the same, say advocates for those workers.

Immigrants, some fleeing criminal violence themselves, can be victimized by cartels on both sides of the border and unfairly targeted by U.S. political rhetoric or perceptions stoked by cartel crime.

"Our community is paying a steep price," said Carlos Guevara, a senior policy adviser for UnidosUS, America’s largest Latino civil rights organization.

The rise of El Mencho and CJNG

The rise of El Mencho and CJNG

For 53-year-old El Mencho, success did not come early. He dropped out of sixth grade to help his family pick avocados.

The teenager sneaked into the U.S. and tried to build a customer base as a street-level dealer. But he kept getting caught.

As a young adult, he and his older brother, Abraham Oseguera Cervantes,  sold heroin to two undercover police officers at a San Francisco bar in 1992 and were sent to federal prison on drug trafficking charges.

Billionaire cartel boss El Mencho began his career as a drug dealing failure. This 1986 booking photo from a San Francisco jail shows one of his arrests.

El Mencho was deported in 1997 and then traveled to Tijuana. There, he built a thriving drug trafficking business, but the city's dominant cartel ordered him to leave when leaders became threatened by his success.

He briefly worked as a police officer in Tomatlån, a small town in Jalisco, learning the inner workings of law enforcement, said DEA Special Agent Kyle Mori, who is heading the U.S. criminal investigation against El Mencho from Los Angeles.

El Mencho eventually joined the Milenio Cartel, gaining a reputation as a cunning sicario , or hitman, and then a boss of hitmen in Guadalajara, Jalisco's capital city.

Passed over for promotion, El Mencho teamed with his in-laws who ran an affiliated cartel and forged his own criminal organization in early 2011 — CJNG.

He quickly amassed a private army, with CJNG members recruiting or kidnapping hundreds of men in their 20s and boys as young as 12. The DEA's Donahue said many were taken to remote paramilitary camps where they were trained as assassins.

Those who tried to run were tortured, killed and sometimes cannibalized by fellow recruits in what U.S. federal agents describe as a disturbing rite of passage.  

This billion-dollar cartel doesn't spend a lot of money on its meth super labs, like this one in the jungles of Jalisco. If police bust it, they just abandon it and move on to another one.

His followers have spread to nearly all of Mexico's 32 states, including the cities of Guadalajara and Tijuana, both crucial to moving drugs into the U.S. 

From there, El Mencho's empire went global, with a steady — and growing — customer base in the U.S., as well as in Australia, Europe and Japan.

In 2015, El Mencho flexed that power to strike back at law enforcement who tried to stop him.

Tipped off that a police caravan was on its way to grab El Mencho, CJNG hitmen hid along the route in April 2015 and ambushed four police vehicles. Cartel members fired hundreds of rounds and hurled grenades and jugs of gasoline.

Fifteen officers died.

A month later, Mexican authorities learned of El Mencho’s new hiding spot and organized a secret mission to capture him. 

Federal police officer Ivan Morales, his partner and soldiers with the Mexican national defense climbed aboard helicopters and headed toward a CJNG compound in the Jalisco mountains.

As they hovered over a cartel convoy, CJNG members fired Russian-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers , shooting down Morales’ helicopter into a cluster of trees.

Eight soldiers and Morales’ partner died. Flames left Morales disabled and disfigured.

Ivan Morales, a Mexican federal police officer, ran through flames to survive a deadly CJNG attack. Cartel members blasted his helicopter out of the sky with a rocket in 2015.

"I thought I was going to die," he said. 

Just hours after the crash, the cartel carried out coordinated attacks in 39 cities, blowing up banks, gas stations and setting cars and semis on fire on major highways to slow down police reinforcements.  

"When they shot the helicopter out of the sky is when everyone respected CJNG as a powerhouse cartel and a rival of Sinaloa," Donahue said. 

The violence of 2015 was a wake-up call, said Terry Cole, a former New York City police officer who oversees DEA agents in Guadalajara as the assistant regional director for North and Central America. 

"That's the type of terrorists we’re dealing with here."

CJNG's diversified business operations

CJNG's diversified business operations

Through corruption and intimidation, CJNG has thrived, even as it found additional ways to make money.

The cartel has run brothels in Mexico, often using teens and women forced into CJNG's web.

It also operated a tequila label, casinos, two shopping centers, a medical clinic, real estate companies and a Pacific Ocean resort frequented by Americans, according to U.S. Treasury Department records.

Adults and children are forced to work in CJNG's crude meth super labs — vats on patches of dirt hidden in the jungle. Entire families who resist have been slaughtered, Donahue said.

The cartel also recruits spies in the Mexican government and police to keep its leaders out of jail and avoid drug busts. Those who refuse bribes are threatened or killed.

A veteran Jalisco police officer, who asked not to be identified for his safety, said CJNG has officials on its payroll at the local, state and federal levels. The information leaks make catching El Mencho extremely difficult, he said.

He shares intel with the DEA, but not his own people.

"If you provide information to the Mexican government, it’s probably the last thing you would say." 

A violent cartel in an unsuspecting town

A violent cartel in an unsuspecting town

CJNG's plan to move into small-town America and cash in on the country's addiction crisis played out in Lexington, Kentucky. 

There, amid the lush pastures and white rail fences, a Mexican immigrant with a sinister secret quietly groomed prized thoroughbreds at historic Calumet Farm, according to court records.

Ciro Macias Martinez was praised by his supervisor and fellow farmhands alike for his punctuality, work ethic and soothing manner with horses at the breeding and training farm in the heart of Kentucky.

But when the day’s chores were done, Macias didn't socialize with others over drinks or dinner. 

At night, from 2015 through April 2017, Macias directed the flow of $30 million worth of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, crystal meth and fentanyl from Mexico to Kentucky's two largest cities: Lexington and Louisville. 

During that time, overdoses sent more victims to Kentucky's morgues than bullets and car crashes combined — with the commonwealth suffering the fifth-highest overdose death rate in the nation.

CJNG's Kentucky cell leader led a double life, working hard during the day as a horse groomer at Lexington's famed Calumet Farm, home to Triple Crown and Derby winners. At night, he oversaw the movement of $30 million in drugs.

Agents say Macias didn't involve Calumet in his drug crimes. His boss, Eddie Kane, Calumet's general manager, declined repeated requests for comment.

Macias' associate, Imanol Pineda Penaloza, headed a cell in Louisville while running his drug business through his used tire shop, Los 3 Hermanos .

Macias found success following the cartel's three-pronged business model:

  • Selling drugs in bulk to local traffickers, who then sold to area dealers.
  • Paying semitruck drivers to haul hidden caches of drugs into the U.S. and return cash to Mexico.
  • Using others to deposit drug profits in cartel-controlled bank accounts.

Macias recruited Brizeida Janett Sosa, the mother of his youngest child, to help organize the money laundering scheme, court records would later show.

She recruited helpers, too, and they frequently made deposits of less than $10,000 — amounts small enough to dodge federal reporting requirements — at bank branches in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, as well as Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In eight months, Sosa’s crew laundered about $1 million for CJNG, stacking drugs and cash behind a wall of their trailer.

haunted mound big cartel

To help Macias smuggle drugs into the U.S., cartel leaders used a Toyota Camry with a secret compartment on the armrest that opened through a sequence of steps: Turn on the heater. Close the air vents. Pull up the seat.

It could hide 9 kilos of drugs and a pile of cash.

Betrayal led to the drug ring's collapse.

Someone aware of the Lexington-Louisville operation talked to a DEA agent in 2016, who, in turn, flagged investigators in Kentucky.

On April 13, 2017, federal agents arrested Macias on his way to Calumet Farm. They seized more than $1 million in drug money his couriers were hauling to Mexico.

Macias and Sosa were convicted of meth trafficking and money laundering and are serving 31 and 15 years, respectively, in federal prison.

Eleven months after the Lexington raid, a SWAT team crept in the darkness and blasted off the front door of the tire shop owner's house in Louisville.

This Louisville, Kentucky, tire store, Los 3 Hermanos, rarely worked on a car. Secretly, it served as CJNG's Derby City drug hub.

Pineda Penaloza and his crew were convicted of drug trafficking and are now in federal prison.

"The threat of Mexican cartel violence and the drugs they bring into our nation can’t be overstated," said Russell Coleman, the top federal prosecutor for the Western District of Kentucky. His office has prosecuted Sinaloa and CJNG members.

Yet, no sooner had authorities busted Kentucky's CJNG ring than the cartel replaced Macias, sending in another team. It hauled in more than 3 kilos of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid so potent that an amount as small as Abraham Lincoln's cheek on a penny can be fatal.

CJNG wasn't the only cartel in the Bluegrass State in 2017, but authorities say it was the main supplier of fentanyl — when Louisville's Adam Cooley, who sought heroin, snorted 20 times a lethal dose.

CJNG's network moves into more unsuspecting towns

CJNG's network moves into more unsuspecting towns

CJNG's Kentucky strategy has been repeated in town after town across America, in places better known for cheese, cows and corn.

Pointing to more than 70,000 Americans who overdosed and died in 2017, Coleman said, “We’re fighting a war for our families, and (the cartels) are winning.”

That fight has been waged across America over the past seven years, federal court records show:

  • In Hickory, North Carolina: CJNG used local drug dealers to move meth into the poor, addicted mountain region. One couple created their own small "redneck drug dealing" ring before law enforcement shut it down.
  • In Axton, Virginia:  Investigators uncovered a hidden hub of stash houses run by alleged CJNG members, part of a drug trafficking web in Virginia that stretched to other mid-Atlantic states.
  • In Omaha, Nebraska: Cartel members bought cars with drug profits and sent them back to Mexico for resale, another way to launder the cartel's wealth. The FBI broke up the ring in a case that is still active.
  • In Gulfport, Mississippi: A state trooper working with a DEA task force nearly brought down El Mencho  after tracking messages the cartel boss' girlfriend texted to him at his Mexican hideout. He sent her $1 million worth of meth.

CJNG is also using a mix of street gangs and white-collar businessmen to move the drugs and hide the money.

In Illinois, the cartel teamed with Vice Lords gang members to grow a drug network that stretched from Southern California through the Midwest and into Nashville and Paducah, Kentucky — known for its riverwalk murals and the National Quilt Museum. 

Murals line the scenic riverwalk in Paducah, Kentucky.

After agents toppled the drug ring, the cartel turned on the gang. Chicago prosecutors allege in court filings that Luis Alderete was a “high-level cartel operative” who shopped for a hitman on Facebook to “take care” of a gang member in Cairo, Illinois, to silence him.

Alderete also is accused of asking a criminal informant in Paducah for assault rifles and a grenade launcher to supply a cartel "war" in Mexico, said Jesse Riddle, the Narcotics Unit captain with the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office in Paducah.

Alderete was indicted in September 2019 in Chicago on charges of trafficking more than a kilo of heroin and at least 400 grams of fentanyl from May to June of this year. 

Roberto Alderete

While Luis Alderete maintains his innocence, court records show that his brother, Roberto Alderete, identified Luis as a cartel lieutenant. Roberto is awaiting sentencing in Paducah in August for trafficking meth while armed with a gun.

Further details Roberto Alderete revealed about CJNG remain hidden in sealed documents.

CJNG also has enlisted white-collar expertise.

In an international operation that stretches back to 2011 dubbed "King's Gold," Homeland Security investigators in Chicago uncovered a money laundering organization that funneled more than $101 million to CJNG and another cartel.

Court documents outlined how it worked: 

  • Two masterminds now in prison orchestrated the scheme from Guadalajara: Carlos Parra Pedroza, alias “Walt Disney,” who owned a jewelry store; and Diego Pineda Sanchez, an accountant.
  • CJNG members or associates would sell drugs to traffickers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, California, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina. 
  • Dozens of couriers throughout the U.S. would then collect the drug profits and use the dirty money to buy scrap and fine gold.
  • Businesses in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Los Angeles would buy the gold and then send the payments through wire transfers to Mexico — including to Parra Pedroza's precious metals business.
  • Prosecutors say Parra Pedroza and Pineda Sanchez would keep a percentage, with the rest going to cartel members in Mexico.

Parra Pedroza and Pineda Sanchez received 13 and 15 years, respectively, in prison after both pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Pineda Sanchez's attorney, Lawrence Beaumont, disputed his client's involvement.

"He was very minutely involved. He was not a millionaire," Beaumont said. "If he was, I didn’t charge him enough."

CJNG has its own SWAT-type teams with special weapons and safety gear, including bullet-resistant vests.

To build their lucrative drug networks in the U.S., CJNG bosses mandated discretion to dodge police attention. In America, El Mencho expects cartel members and associates to avoid violence, hide wealth and disguise their CJNG affiliations, agents say.

But some CJNG bosses didn’t follow those rules.  

Members of a cartel cell in Kansas City, with drug houses in both Kansas and Missouri between 2013 and 2016, splurged on $10,000 tickets to rapper Pitbull’s concert and a Louis Vuitton purse.

And, in a 2019 case pending in federal court, an accused cartel lieutenant connected to Chicago drug trafficking settled into a $2 million Nashville condo.

Other bosses used threats of violence in the U.S., despite El Mencho's warnings against it.

In a Chicago money-laundering case, a Guadalajara businessman working with CJNG urged an informant to settle his drug debt quickly, describing how cartel members settled another man’s debt: "They chopped off his fingers."

And federal prosecutors alleged in court that convicted drug trafficker Jesus Enrique Palomera, the leader of a cartel cell in Tacoma, Washington, ordered the kidnapping and murder of a man whose fingers and toes were chopped off — a common method of torture in Mexico. 

During a brief telephone call from prison in August 2019, Palomera said he is a family man who never harmed anyone. 

"I know I’m not that person," he said, refusing to elaborate. "My family knows I’m not that person. I don't really care what the prosecutor says.”

U.S. takes aim at cartel

U.S. takes aim at cartel

Alarmed by CJNG's surging violence in Mexico and continued expansion across this country, U.S. officials have pushed back.

Beginning in 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department designated El Mencho a "kingpin," along with his brother-in-law, Abigail GonzĂĄlez Valencia, leader of the Los Cuinis cartel.

That designation allowed the department to levy sanctions against Mexican businesses linked to the cartels, including a sushi restaurant, a tequila business, shopping centers, a medical clinic, two newspapers and famed Hotelito Desconocido, visited by Hollywood stars.

The strategy: Make it illegal for any U.S. citizen or company to spend money at a cartel-affiliated business. It also forbids any U.S. bank to approve loans or credit card transactions for those CJNG-backed enterprises.

While some moves targeted the cartel’s finances, others were more personal.

Menchito, the son of El Mencho, is in a Mexican jail while awaiting extradition to the U.S. He has a bandage from a nose job, but Mexican officials said they didn't know if he had the surgery to disguise his identity.

In June 2015, the Mexican military arrested El Mencho’s son and second-in-command, RubĂ©n Oseguera GonzĂĄles. Unlike his reclusive father, the 25-year-old lived in a luxury high-rise apartment in downtown Guadalajara and often stepped out in designer clothes to eat in fancy restaurants.

When authorities arrested him, they found two assault rifles, one inscribed with "Menchito" — little Mencho — and another engraved with "CJNG 02 JR." 

American authorities are still seeking his extradition to the U.S. to face drug charges.

Mexican marines almost captured El Mencho in October 2018. They stormed a hideout west of Guadalajara, but the cartel leader climbed into a vehicle and was rushed to safety.

El Mencho's son, Rubén Oseguera Gonzålez, was No. 2 in command of the billion-dollar cartel. During his arrest, police found these assault rifles. One is inscribed "CJNG 02 JR," and the other  displays "Menchito," which means little Mencho.

After his escape, the U.S. took its manhunt public.

On Oct. 16, 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, standing next to a large "Wanted" poster of El Mencho, announced a $10 million reward for his capture and unveiled detailed indictments against him and CJNG.  

Treasury Department officials stood with Sessions and announced more sanctions on businesses linked to CJNG and its affiliate, Los Cuinis. More than 60 were targeted, including a biotech consulting company, a bakery and hillside vacation cabins.

"We consider this cartel to be one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations on the face of the Earth, and it is doing unimaginable damage to the people of this nation," Sessions said.

Officials in Attorney General William Barr's office declined to comment on The Courier Journal's findings.

Will El Mencho ever be captured?  

Will El Mencho ever be captured?  

On the run and out of sight, El Mencho is described by some veteran agents as a ghost. From the shadows, he continues to lead CJNG with ruthless authority.

U.S. drug agents believe he's in western Mexico, hiding in remote jungles or mountains of Jalisco, Colima or MichoĂĄcan.

"All intelligence indicates he’s still there, moving regularly," said Craine, the retired DEA supervisor who led the successful hunt for El Chapo.

CJNG is blamed for this mass grave and many others.

Even if U.S. and Mexican investigators can track El Mencho's location, capturing him won't be easy.

Agents say he typically travels in a convoy, surrounding himself with dozens of well-trained mercenaries armed with military-grade weapons that can tear through tanks, even aircraft.

"It's gonna be hard to catch him slippin'," said Mori, the DEA agent overseeing the U.S. criminal investigation against El Mencho.

"He doesn't make a lot of mistakes." 

Moreover, the U.S. lacks the authority to make arrests in foreign countries, said Evans, a senior DEA official.

"If an agent saw him, we couldn’t say, 'Hey, we’re gonna grab El Mencho right now, take him and put him into custody.' We're guests in their country.”

But DEA agents across the border are sharing intelligence and working with their Mexican counterparts to devise ways to dismantle CJNG and arrest its leaders.

They’re also working to train Mexican police to improve the country's “solve rate” for kidnappings and murders, which is less than 5%. Many are committed by cartels.

Throughout Mexico, more than 40,000 children and adults remain missing. Ransom-seekers and other cartels are responsible for many of those disappearances, with CJNG to blame for thousands, DEA agents say. 

The U.S government has crippled dozens of businesses that supported CJNG and sent El Mencho’s son and chief financial backer to prison, along with members of his inner circle.

Still, El Mencho’s empire is growing.

CJNG is blamed for several mass graves, leaving bodies of men and women stacked in houses or shallow pits.

"It was almost unbelievable, the things we were hearing, the amount of drugs," said Benjamin Taylor, who oversees investigations for Homeland Security in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Even after El Mencho's girlfriend went to prison, the cartel quickly returned to the Gulf Coast with more loads of drugs.

Make no mistake, Taylor said. CJNG is "among us."

"That’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s true."

Reporters Jonathan Bullington, Kala Kachmar, Chris Kenning and Karol Suarez contributed to this story.

Investigative reporter Beth Warren spent three days in Mexico City and Guadalajara with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Mexican police and government officials. Warren traveled to six cities in the U.S. and reviewed thousands of documents in more than 100 court cases and sought prison interviews with more than two dozen cartel members and associates.

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Why is The Courier Journal reporting on a deadly Mexican drug cartel? Because it's here

An inside look at Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel

Since 2018, eduardo giralt brun has been trying to understand the psyche of the foot soldiers in the criminal group. his work has led to two documentaries and a book of photography that challenge the glamorous tv depictions of narco culture.

Members of the Sinaloa cartel in a photograph included in the book 'Sicario Warfare.'

The day that “La Vagancia” understood that he could die in a shootout on any given day, he decided to leave a record of his time on Earth. For youths like him, hitmen and pawns of the drug world, death comes early and without warning: on any street corner, during any brawl, settling of scores or from a stray bullet. And even though he dreamed of quitting the Sinaloa cartel and finding a regular job, he also knew that the most likely way of leaving a criminal group is either as a prisoner or as a corpse.

That is why he decided to fill a memory card with all the photographs and videos he had made during his time with the cartel and placed it in the care of one of the few people he knew who were not part of that life, someone who might be able to do something useful with it: Eduardo Giralt Brun.

And Giralt Brun, a 34-year-old filmmaker from Venezuela, transformed these files into the book Sicario Warfare, released this year by the independent publisher 550BC, and into the documentary Sinaloa Foot Soldier: Inside a Mexican Narco-Militia — with Emmanuel MassĂș and Pouria Khojastehpay —, an inside look at daily life for the militiamen led by La Vagancia . The footage shows them on trips across the mountain and in confrontations with rival gangs; it documents moments of boredom, their weapons, their camaraderie.

La Vagancia , whose real name is not revealed, is 31 years old. He joined the Sinaloa cartel at age 22 and met Giralt Brun in 2018. The latter was working at the time for a movie director who wanted to shoot a film about life in the Sinaloa underworld, something like Mexico’s answer to Fernando Meirelles’ 2002 City of God . Giralt Brun was hiring youths in northern Mexico to work as actors and extras, kids from rural communities and poor neighborhoods. And many of the youths that he met were working for organized crime. To his surprise, a considerable number of them wanted to be in the movie, contrary to what he had been expecting.

Cartel de Sinaloa  libro Sicario Warfare, de Eduardo Giralt Brun

Giralt Brun was always interested in understanding the psychology behind that small percentage of the population that lives a life of crime . He also wanted to understand the mindset and worldview of youths from poor backgrounds without many options for advancement in life. So he decided to shoot a documentary about them with his cellphone and help from his friend and work colleague Emmanuel MassĂș, a well-known rapper in Sinaloa who sometimes worked as a fixer for reporters as he was able to move easily within that shady world.

“I focused on the gatilleros , the foot soldiers. The stigmatized young men who also suffer from that hegemonic masculinity. And 90% told me they didn’t want to participate. But then we found La Vagancia, who is a great character,” says Giralt Brun on a recent sunny February day inside his two-bedroom apartment in Mexico City. The living room is decorated with relics he collected during his fieldwork, such as a stick with the drawing of an AK-47 assault rifle used by the Sinaloa cartel to punish its unruly members.

‘The Plebes’

Giralt Brun is a tall, stocky man with tattoos on his arms, a shaved head and a thick mustache that is the outstanding feature on his face. He wears tight clothes and there are three medals hanging from his neck. He speaks with his entire body, energetically. Each word is reinforced with gestures and shoulder movements. And when the conversation gets interesting, he bites his lip as a half-smile plays across his lips.

The documentary that he made with MassĂș, Los Plebes, premiered in 2021 at independent film festivals and did not have much commercial success. Audiences accustomed to the glamorous, adrenaline-driven vision of the narco world depicted by Netflix were unimpressed by his vision, which comes closer to the “dirty realism” of 20th-century Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. There are hardly any shootouts or action scenes. There are no big mansions, luxury cars or narcocorrido ballads. What there is a lot of is grey-looking suburbs, unfinished brick houses, concrete floors and cheap clothes.

The film follows the day-to-day life of La Vagancia: he plays videogames, drives across town, takes care of his dog, attempts to pick up some girls, and is always looking at his phone, because his boss could call any time about a job that needs to be done. In fact, even the lead character told them that they had made a very boring movie.

The moviemakers have also been strongly criticized for “humanizing” these foot soldiers and justifying their violence. But Giralt Brun and MassĂș are tired of the polarity of the concepts of good and evil, of executioner and victim. “Is a 15-year-old boy who gets recruited by the narcos not a victim?” asks Giralt Brun. “If this were to happen in Africa, we would call them child soldiers. But over here we see them as the scum of the earth. You cannot build a country if these kids are not even considered citizens.”

miembro del Cartel de Sinaloa libro Sicario Warfare, de Eduardo Giralt Brun

From cartel to paramilitary group

The documentary Los Plebes was filmed in 2018, and as the years passed La Vagancia rose up the cartel’s chain of command. From a foot soldier, he went on to lead his own combat unit and train new recruits. It was at this time that La Vagancia sent Giralt Brun and MassĂș a memory card with photos and videos. The change in La Vagancia, as well as the criminal group itself, can be seen in Sicario Warfare and Sinaloa Foot Soldier . “There is an evolution of a cartel into a paramilitary group that wants power and territory, and is no longer just trafficking drugs,” says Giralt Brun.

In the prologue to Sicario Warfare , the co-author of the book, Pouria Khojastehpay, reflects on how the idea of anonymity and secrecy in organized crime has changed today: “The mafia is not this secret world that you think is impossible to enter. The industry has evolved and the current generation of gangsters is increasingly less against being written about or having their photos shared. Many bosses and their men like to talk, boast and enjoy being portrayed by authors and directors as real, modern-day versions of Tony Montana [from the 1983 film Scarface ] or Michael Corleone [from the 1972 The Godfather ].” Giralt Brun adds: “They are fed up with so many stories told by others, they want to recover their own story.” In other words, they want to take control of the discourse.

During the short documentary, La Vagancia reflects on his life as a hitman: dying is easy, escaping is hard. He explains: “One thinks about a lot of things in a few seconds when there is a clash. The adrenaline can feel good or sometimes bad, it all depends on the mood. But over time, you start to feel afraid. It’s difficult to explain. Sometimes you think about leaving this job. Too many times. I do feel, my feelings have not disappeared, nor do I have a heart of stone. What I am living is normal, it’s work. I don’t consider myself a bad person.”

On these reflections, Giralt Brun says: “It’s very abstract to think of yourself as a character. And this kid is doing it. He’s aware that his life has a dramatic side.”

Miembros del Cartel de Sinaloa muestran su armamento en una fotografĂ­a del libro Sicario Warfare

Giralt Brun, who studied visual art, doesn’t like to be considered an expert. He refuses to use academic terms and focuses on what he has learned from the fieldwork. He makes constant references to books and classic films. As the interview goes on, he brings out more and more books and notebooks to illustrate his points, such as The Corner , a portrait of the low-income inner-city neighborhood of Baltimore, written by Ed Burns and David Simon, the creator of the acclaimed series The Wire .

“It’s a classist argument that these kids get involved with narco groups because they are poor. Most of the poor kids from these neighborhoods are looking for honest work,” he says. “And crime isn’t easy. You earn as much as you would at [convenience store chain] Oxxo. What’s interesting then, is why do they do it?”

He adds: “There are poorer countries that don’t have the violence of Mexico. It’s a perfect storm, there is not just one reason. It’s the ban on drugs, the lack of welfare, having the Americans as neighbors 

Fear and morality

Spending so much time surrounded by people who murder and make others disappear as part of their job is not easy. “I have been afraid, especially when drugs and alcohol are involved,” says Giralt Brun. When he was with the cartel members, he was nervous about getting shot in the back of the head while going to the bathroom. He compares the experience to swimming in the open sea, something he loves: you have to accept that you are in the middle of nature and have no control. Anything could happen.

But Giralt Brun was not just affected by fear. Being exposed to such high levels of violence and extreme experiences also affected his way of understanding and assessing this reality. “I’m not a human rights activist nor working with the authorities, I’m a chronicler. But the moral compass starts to shake, it’s difficult.”

“All of them are going to tell you that they only kill their enemies , not innocent people. They have a narrative of good versus bad: they [the enemies] are the bad guys and we are good guys. I have not met anyone who told me ‘I’m a bastard and I like to kill innocent people.’ In their view, theirs is a fair fight,” explains Giralt Brun, who says that you end up telling yourself ‘small lies’ to cope with it. Like telling yourself that the killer that you have become close to after hours of interviews is “the least bad of the bad,” says the filmmaker. That the world is a very ugly place anyway, and that’s just life.

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Butte Drug Trafficking Organization with Ties to the Sinaloa Cartel Dismantled

BUTTE, Mont. — A multi-agency investigation into a drug trafficking organization with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, which brought massive quantities of methamphetamine, counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and heroin to Butte for redistribution, has resulted in the federal convictions of 22 people.

U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich hosted a press conference Thursday to discuss the results of the criminal investigation, which was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation with assistance from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. 

The investigation began in 2019 and was one of the largest federal drug trafficking probes in Montana in recent years. The network is responsible for bringing more than 2,043 pounds of meth and 722,000 fentanyl-laced pills from Mexico to Butte for redistribution, with $2.98 million laundered in drug proceeds.  During the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized 65 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 2,000 counterfeit oxycontin pills containing fentanyl and three pounds of heroin and seized $32,875 in cash and 19 firearms.

According to court documents, this case began with a tip about a suspicious package, which eventually led to the 22 federal convictions of individuals from Montana, California and Mexico.  At least three of the defendants have direct ties to the Sinaloa Cartel. 

“The Sinaloa Cartel is one of two primary cartels responsible for flooding the United States with fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Rocky Mountain Division Brian Besser.  “This investigation has revealed the extent to which the Sinaloa Cartel has extended its reach into Montana; however, the law enforcement agencies, at the local, state and federal level, have demonstrated via the results of this case that we will continue to attack these networks at every level to save lives and protect our communities from the scourge of illicit drugs.”

“Far too often, we believe that cartel-related activity in America is limited to southern border states, but as these cases show, we have significant issues facing us in Montana, including in an area where I grew up,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said. “These cases also show that our office will pursue cartel-related activity without fear or hesitation. Individuals associated with this network brought staggering amounts of methamphetamine, fake oxycontin pills laced with fentanyl, and heroin from Mexico and into Montana for distribution. This years-long investigation and prosecution shut down the flow of these dangerous drugs, held suppliers and   local dealers accountable, and saved lives in Montana communities. The success of this collaborative enforcement action would not have been possible without the dedication, cooperation, and hard work of all of our law enforcement partners to hold offenders accountable and to keep Montanans safe. Our work does not end with the conclusion of these cases, but rather is just beginning.”

 “The shipment of illegal and dangerous narcotics remains a plague on our streets. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service remains steadfast in our commitment to work with our partners in law enforcement to do everything we can to bring these drug dealers to justice and protect communities across Montana and the country,” said Assistant Inspector in Charge (AIC) Jarrod Resendez, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

“There’s no question that Mexico is the source of illegal drugs pouring into our state. These cases – which are the culmination of years of investigative and prosecutorial work – put that to rest,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said. “Our DCI narcotics agents and Highway Patrol troopers work closely with federal and local partners every day, and I’ll continue our work to strengthen those partnerships to keep drugs out of Montana and put traffickers behind bars.”

“I am very grateful for the multi-jurisdictional approach and the cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement. These are lengthy, labor-intensive and detailed operations,” Butte Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester said. “This investigation was very successful in that a significant number of defendants were indicted. It puts drug traffickers on notice that Southwest Montana is a very dangerous place to do business.”

The operation smuggled drugs from Mexico to stash houses in Southern California, then transported multi-pound quantities by vehicle and through the mail to Butte. From Butte, local dealers trafficked the drugs to Missoula, Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman, Billings and Wolf Point for street-level distribution.  The dealers then laundered drug proceeds through the mail, cash shipments and wire transactions back to the Mexico suppliers.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation led the investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Montana Highway Patrol, the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force, Butte Silver Bow Law Enforcement and Butte Silver Bow County Attorney’s Office.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF)

investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.


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  • Apr 10, 2023

How Haunted Mound Built A Genre From The Ground Up

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

The story of Sematary, and the growing powerhouse that is Haunted Mound.

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Half of the time I listen to any album from the rapper collective and label Haunted Mound, it's hard to discern if I am listening to a serious project or the ramblings of a 20-year-old with the mental age of a 12-year-old. But that's exactly why I love Haunted Mound.

Ever since Chief Keef (aka Sosa ) revolutionized the hip-hop industry with Finally Rich in 2012, a separate branch of hyper-produced, gritty, trap-centric hip-hop was introduced under the brand of drill . Haunted Mound approaches this genre from the perspective of hyper-pop and cloud rap, delivering their own take on the genre.

However, this doesn't do much to explain what Haunted Mound truly is, as while Chief Keef may have started the drill movement, Haunted Mound took the concept and ran with it, creating something new altogether.

Grave House: Not So Humble Beginnings

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Haunted Mound is a record label officially comprised of eight members: the prolific and self-proclaimed leader Sematary; producers Oscar18, Grimoire, Snuffer, and Gonerville; rappers Hackle and Turnabout; and graphic artist Buckshot. Since 2019, Haunted Mound has released twelve full-length albums, garnering a respectable number of hardcore fans.

Haunted Mound's beginnings, however, were less complex. Originally started by Sematary and fellow rapper/producer Ghost Mountain, Haunted Mound made their debut in August of 2019 with their breakout mixtape Grave House. At this time, Sematary was just 19 years old, and the mixtape feels appropriately amateur.

Grave House might not have had the experience and consistency of Sematary's later releases, but it is no less extraordinary and introduces listeners perfectly to Haunted Mound's distinct style of trap. The production takes influence from cloud rappers such as Yung Lean, with varying levels of whitewashed noise swamping the slow, lurching trap beats. But while Yung Lean and other cloud rappers are known for their loose, laid-back aesthetic; Grave House is loud, disconcerting, and annoying. Sematary whines over the beats with no regard to rhythm or tone, deriving an aesthetic similar to hyper-pop acts such as 100 gecs or Black Dresses.

Lyrically, Sematary seems to have a cynical outlook on the world, himself particularly, but approaches this topic with an attitude of carelessness: preferring to accept his fate than take action. The lyrics consistently reference real-world tragedies, like in the repetitive and hypnotic Nevada, where the chorus repeats the words "cutter in Nevada". This refers to the teenage murder story of a young girl using a boxcutter to stab a fellow classmate to death. Her internet nickname 'Nevada-tan' comes from a famous picture of the girl wearing a University of Nevada sweatshirt.

There is a disturbing, primal obsession with murder in Grave House, and as the songs begin to blur into an incomprehensible mess of abuse, hysteria, and disorientating noise, you quickly realize there is no escape. The final track, Broken Angel Hospital, illustrates the final moments of the now husk of a human living at an asylum, and since his pension for death is unable to be satisfied any longer, he turns to himself to nourish his desires, ultimately killing himself.

Rainbow Bridge: Discovering Something New

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While it has only been three years since the release of the initial Rainbow Bridge mixtape, the series has established itself as a staple of cloud rap, and its success is nothing short of a miracle given how nothing has ever sounded like it before.

On the first album in the series, Rainbow Bridge, Sematary begins his transformation by doubling down on the production. Every single beat on this album is essentially the same thing: washed-out guitars with a gimmicky trap beat layered on top of it... and it works. The variety comes from the guitars, which incorporate various genres of metal and noise rock to create something inconceivable in the context of a trap album. This is achieved through brilliant sampling choices.

On the opening track Slaughter House, there is a constant flood of black metal throughout the entire song, though it becomes more obvious in the final minute when the trap beat fades out. The sample is from the atmospheric black metal outfit Woods of Desolation. It's hilarious to imagine Woods of Desolation would have ever expected their music to be sampled on Rainbow Bridge, but that's what makes Sematary such an innovative producer.

Further examples include Bunny Suit, where instrumental noise rock act Smashing Pumpkins is sampled throughout. Or the driving riffs of Toolbox, which appropriately also samples the harsh screams of groove metal band Apati.

However, the biggest improvement is Sematary's vocal delivery, which has a newfound purpose and rhythm compared to Grave House. There are actual melodies now, which allows for some creative and catchy choruses. This can be observed in tracks like Arson, where Sematary's attempts at singing are comical but effective. Or in Dental Floss, where an anthemic chorus adds some much-needed dynamics to Sematary's depressive sound.

Lyrically, Rainbow Bridge is similar to Grave House , but this time Sematary is in control over his mind. While Grave House depicted the slow destruction of sanity from an obsession with murder, Rainbow Bridge is the prequel: a serial killer in his prime, discovering his passion for the first time.

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Rainbow Bridge 2 is easily the most underrated and overlooked album in Sematary's discography, mostly because it is seen as an intermission between Rainbow Bridge and the revolution of Rainbow Bridge 3 . However, to ignore Rainbow Bridge 2 would be to ignore what is Sematary's most effective world-building and atmosphere.

Everything is slower on this album, and the lower end is turned up to where it takes the center stage in most of the beats. While the sampling follows the same pattern as Rainbow Bridge , it is arguably even more effective at bringing the same themes of ambient metal and introducing them to trap. Even Sematary's voice is deeper than ever before, returning to the same toneless delivery as Grave House.

Rainbow Bridge 2 isn't fun to listen to: it's creepy, it's disgusting, it doesn't have the same energy as its predecessors, but at the same time Sematary is at his best. Whether it's the acoustic grief of Toothtaker: the closest Sematary will come to an emo track, the passionless and obsessive love story of Duster Huffer, or the uncomfortable imagery of Scissor Hands, Rainbow Bridge 2 offers an alternate perspective to Sematary's music. And while it might not be as catchy as its predecessor, or as ingenious as its follow-up, Rainbow Bridge 2 remains a fantastic experience that should not be missed.

haunted mound big cartel

The Rainbow Bridge finale came in April of 2021, and was the first mainstream recognition of Sematary; not because it was accessible, but the opposite.

To tell the full story, we have to return to just after Rainbow Bridge 2 , where Sematary released the spin-off mixtape Hundred Acre Wrist Hosted By DJ Shadow. This was not a typical Sematary project and featured production that was beefed to the max. The trap beats were faster, wielding its drill resemblance with newfound confidence, and were fit with airy synths as well as hilarious producer tag gimmicks ( DJ shadow is a pseudonym for Sematary ).

Of course, fans were excited about what this would mean for Rainbow Bridge 3 and speculated on what Sematary would have to offer. None of their predictions could have held up to the final project, however, and demonstrated that Sematary would certainly not be playing it safe from here on out.

By the time Rainbow Bridge 3 was released, Ghost Mountain had left Haunted Mound for personal reasons, leaving Sematary to his own devices. In his absence, Sematary decided to put all of his cards on the table.

Just take the beginning of the first track, God's Light Burns My Flesh, where thrash metal meets the howling of wolves, producer tags, and Sematary's moaning for a full 45 seconds before the song starts. At this point, Sematary's voice is the only constant throughout the rest of the song and album, as he begins his unholy chanting on top of the sound of pure anarchy.

The soundscape is full of random screaming, an alarming lower end saturated beyond belief, and trap beats that sound ripped straight from Almighty So. At times, Sematary's voice is completely consumed by noise, where it is impossible to pick out a specific sound, much less what Sematary is attempting to say.

While Sematary discussed killing with the detached flair of a cold-hearted but calculated psychopath in his previous works, Rainbow Bridge 3 is full of emotion, particularly hate. Sematary knows he's too far gone and is determined to bring everyone else with him. This is evident in tracks like Come With Me To Hell, where a minute in Sematary begins by calmly asking you to come to hell with him. Once it becomes evident that you don't want to go to hell, he flies into a screaming rampage, as if he gave up on convincing and now just blindly wants to kill.

At 53 minutes, Rainbow Bridge 3 is by no means a short-lived experience, but it rarely gives up any slack for its entire runtime, so much so that you're bound to get ear fatigue before the halfway point. The final track, Crucifixion, is the most brutal expedition, as Sematary screams over and over again, "Crucify, Crucify...". After 53 minutes of pain, this feels like the final nail in the coffin for my ears.

Rainbow Bridge 3 mixes metal, drill, and hyper-hop into a singular entity, displaying the peak of Sematary's innovation with comedic persuasiveness.

Sematary's story is far from finished, with his newest LP Butcher's House receiving strong reception amongst fans. However, it's unlikely he will ever be able to replicate what he achieved on Rainbow Bridge 3 . For now, Sematary remains a relevant figure in the world of extreme music, and his work will no doubt go on to influence many other up-and-coming artists.

Hackle and Turnabout: The Sideliners

Sematary is the clear face of Haunted Mound and is the most active member of the group. That being said, the other members do not get nearly as much attention as Sematary, even when their projects are just as good if not better than a lot of Sematary's output. Therefore, I feel obliged to review their music along with Sematary, as there are as many similarities as there are differences in their sound.

haunted mound big cartel

While the Rainbow Bridge series was produced exclusively by Sematary, all of Haunted Mound's further releases would be produced by a talented team of producers including Oscar18, Grimoire, Snuffer, and Gonerville . While this might seem like it would remove the identity from a style that relied heavily on production, they would prove themselves by producing the singles for Turnabout, which came after the release of Rainbow Bridge 3 , releasing some of Haunted Mound's catchiest tracks.

Unlike Sematary, Turnabout was perfectly happy with experimenting with melodies, which gave Turnabout a pop-rap style that worked well with the classic drill production that was introduced on Hundred Acre Wrist.

His debut mixtape, Cutter Lane, expanded this style into a full-length experience. While Cutter Lane wasn't the genre-defining-journey the Rainbow Bridge trilogy was, the catchy choruses, flawless production, and clearer vocal delivery made for an accessible substitute for Sematary's abrasiveness.

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Hackle's debut mixtape, Gunsmith Tha Mixtape , carried with it a more distinct sound than Turnabout's interpretation. Part of this is Hackle's obsession, in true American fashion, with guns. While the lyrical content of Turnabout followed Sematary's lead of death, at least Hackle got specific with his method of homicide. This instills Gunsmith Tha Mixtape with a sense of irony that immediately allows the listener to put aside their misgivings about the absurd production and enjoy the music as the comedic experience it's meant to be.

Each track on Gunsmith Tha Mixtape has an overdone introduction, filled with at least 3 producer tags and random adlibs before the song starts. While this is funny at first, it can get annoying after the 10th time.

However, some of the beats on Gunsmith Tha Mixtape are the best that Haunted Mound has to offer, such as Bakelite, which has so much forward momentum that Hackle can barely keep up. The new producer team really shines here, ultimately being more effective at creating fun songs than Sematary's experimental production choices.

Given the rate that Haunted Mound has expanded throughout the last few years, it is likely that Haunted Mound will continue to expand and develop their reputation as the face of this modern strain of drill. Rainbow Bridge has already defined itself as a staple of the 2020s, and the mainstream attention that Sematary has recently begun to receive represents a switch from an exclusive and hardcore fanbase to a broader and less critical one. Whether this means good things for Haunted Mound's music, only time will tell.

Album Rankings and Links:

Grave House

haunted mound big cartel

Rainbow Bridge

haunted mound big cartel

Apple Music

Rainbow Bridge 2

haunted mound big cartel

Amazon Music

Hundred Acre Wrist Hosted By DJ Sorrow

haunted mound big cartel

Rainbow Bridge 3

haunted mound big cartel

Cutter Lane

haunted mound big cartel

Gunsmith Tha Mixtape

haunted mound big cartel

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Nature Makes Me Happy

a girl drinks coffee with her dog in nature

The grounding feeling of calmness that you get when outside in a beautiful setting; that relaxing feeling that really puts the world into perspective. From the poet Whitman to the mathematical genius Einstein, many historical figures have embraced the positive effects of the great outdoors. Scientists around the world are finding real proof that this feeling isn’t just in your head, but that time spent hiking, camping, backpacking, or just being outdoors in general can result in real, honest to goodness health benefits. From the smell of pine trees to the sound of birdsong, nature can have amazing effects on your body and mind. While here at Advanced Primate we have always believed that humans have become disconnected from nature, we now have the proof to back up our claims that getting outside is really for the best.

nature makes me happy essay

Leading scientists have two main theories on what happens to our bodies when we interact with nature: Stress Reduction Theory (SRT) and Attention Restoration Theory (ART). While both theories propose that nature helps make people happier and smarter, ART focuses on the brain’s attention network while SRT focuses on our physiological response. In a nutshell, ART-based scientists suggest that seeing nature lets our brain chill out and relax, while SRT-focused scientists assert that being outside lowers anxiety and stress-related chemicals in our bodies. Either way, we get some awesome benefits from a little outside time.

But what exactly is it about nature that makes our bodies so happy? It is a chemical smell that changes the biochemistry of our blood? Is it a soothing sound that melts away stress? Or maybe a visual stimulus that blocks out pain and agitation? The answer is: yes, to all of the above. To truly explore the immense benefits of the great outdoors, let’s start with how we experience things through our five senses.

nature makes me happy essay

Imagine hiking in a forest, surrounded by tall, commanding trees. The hazy sunlight filters through the canopy and there is only the muffled sound of the breeze and far off birdsong. Take a deep breath. What do you smell? That special smell that forests have comes from a chemical substance called phytoncides, which are protective chemicals emitted from trees and plants. While its main purpose is to protect the trees from harmful insects and other potential threats, this forest aroma has incredibly positive side effects on the human body. These antibacterial happy little forest chemicals can bring about a 53% stress reduction and a 5%-7% reduction in blood pressure. Just by taking a sniff of forest air!

Here is a good trivia question: what do you call the smell of dry earth after it rains? This wonderfully distinct smell is called petrichor, from the Greek words meaning “stone” and “blood of the gods”. When water droplets hit the soil, a chemical is released into the air called Geosmin. Geosmin comes from a type of bacteria that is used in some commercial antibiotics. Each big lungful of this post-rain smell is like a shot of antivirals straight to the body. There has even been studies on Geosmin’s potential benefits for cancer patients. So go ahead, tree sniffers of the world, gather your camping gear and go on an outdoor adventure to get yourself some of those healthy and happy-making nose chemicals.

You can smell nature, you can touch nature (usually), but please don’t go around licking nature unless you know what you’re doing.

Today, many doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals have pictures of natural scenes in their offices. We have one man to thank for this: Roger Ulrich. What does a psychologist and architect from the 1950s have to do with nature photos you may ask? Ulrich researched post-surgery hospital recovery times between patients in rooms with a view of green space versus patients without. Those with a natural view needed less pain medication, had better attitudes, and needed fewer postoperative days overall. Similar studies have been carried out in business offices, schools, housing projects, and prisons and yielded similar results. These studies have shown that having a view of nature increases worker productivity, decreases job stress, and helps bring about higher academic grades and less aggression in inner-city residents. One amazing study even found that people in rooms with potted plants were nicer!

Have you noticed that sitting in a loud room can actually physically tire you? Background noise increases subconscious stress. It can cause an increase in hypertension in adults and systolic blood pressure in kids. A 2005 study out of Europe explored the effects of schools located near major airports on children’s reading comprehension, memory and hyperactivity. For every 5-decibel increase in noise, reading scores dropped the equivalent of a 2-month delay. The incredible negative effects of constant noise on humans and wildlife influenced the U.S. National Park Service to create a division called The Natural Sounds and Night Sky Division. Joshua Smyth, a biobehavioral health psychologist, believes that humans should think of soundscapes as a type of medicine. Twenty minutes a day of increased natural sounds and decreased anthropogenic (human-made) noise can be more effective in stress reduction even than meditation.

Full Sensory Immersion

In order to achieve the wonderful benefits of nature, you can replicate a lot of these experiences inside your own house. Try picking up an aromatherapy device for your bedroom and filling it with pine scented oil to emulate camping, listen to bird song on earphones while working, or make sure your windows look out onto even a sliver of green space. However, if you want to truly unlock nature’s potential health benefits, you’ll need more than a few minutes smelling, hearing, and seeing nature. Science has found that to reap the maximum amount of the good stuff, we need at least five hours per month in the great outdoors. That could mean a quick thirty minute hike a couple of times a week, or two to three days per month of camping.

As Florence Williams says in her book The Nature Fix , “It’s not just the smell of a cypress, or the sounds of the birds, or the color green that unlocks the pathway to health in our brains. We’re full sensory beings, or at least we were once built to be. Isn’t it possible that it’s only when you open all the doors – literally and figuratively – that the real magic happens? For that, you need more than a few moments on a screen or in nature.”

So go for it- pack up your outdoor gear and go sniff that tree, revel in that bird song, go for a hike in the backcountry, camp in the forest, visit national parks, and soak in the sun! I promise, it’s for your own good. They don’t call it the GREAT outdoors for nothing!

nature makes me happy essay

Teresa Cirelli

Agree wholeheartedly! Love spending time outside everyday. Recently came back from 5 days in Moab spending time outside exploring the trails. Going to the mountains in a couple weeks to zip line and smell the pine trees. Reading this blog, I’ll have reduced stress in my life and feel rested.

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nature makes me happy essay

Why Nature Makes You Happy

Why Nature Makes You Happy

If you’re anything like me, then you’re happiest outdoors. No matter if it’s super hot or freezing cold, full of sunshine or even pouring rain. Whether you’re alone or with a friend it always seems to bring your spirits up. You can’t seem to find anything that brings you as much joy. More people should start to go outside, and I don’t mean go outside just to run to your car, but really go outside. People need to take a moment for themselves and enjoy what nature has to offer. Being outside always seems to boost people’s moods, which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. But what is it about nature that causes people to have a heightened sense of well-being? Here is my list on why I believe nature brings such joy into peoples' lives.

Nature brings a sense of calmness.

Life can seem to be quite overwhelming. Especially when you have school, work, and extracurricular activities taking over most of your days. When you take a moment to go outdoors, and relax you feel an outstanding sense of calmness and silence which allows you to relax. Take a moment, disconnect.

Nature is beautiful.

Looking around at all of the nature that surrounds us puts you in awe. From the tree in your backyard to a forest. Watching the sunrise or set over the horizon is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see. Thinking about how plants and animals coexist and help each other to survive is mesmerizing. Being surrounded by so much beauty makes you feel whole and elated.

Nature gives you energy.

After being cooped up in the house for a while, you finally decide go outside. You get a rush of energy as soon as you start breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sun on your face and having the wind blow through your hair. All of these wake you up and give you energy to last throughout your day. Nothing is worse than a tired and grumpy person, get outside and feel alive!

Nature gives you a sense of self.

Being in nature allows you to focus on you and your spirit. It gives you a moment to reflect on your life and see that life is beautiful. You feel connected to nature and everything in it. You have a purpose in this world and allowing yourself to bring in and feel nature allows you to realize that. If you allow nature to take away your problems, even for only a moment, you will feel such a huge sense of relief.

So take a moment, to go outside. I guarantee you will feel like a happier, more positive person.

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5 different religions and their unique christmas celebrations, from hanukkah lights to nativity scenes: 5 faiths' unique takes on the christmas spirit.

The Holidays are a time for being with friends and family and celebrating the birth of Christ, but sometimes we forget to acknowledge the other religions and what they celebrate. Some religions like the Islam do not even celebrate Christmas and then you have others, the Buddhists, who use the holiday to practice their religion of spreading peace and goodwill. In no particular order, I would like to demonstrate a little culture about the ways Christmas is celebrated or is not celebrated throughout five different religions.


During the Christmas season, Christians celebrate Christmas in numerous ways. Families and churches from all around will set up a Nativity Scene or a mini replica of the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The scene is composed of the baby Jesus, the virgin mother Mary, the father Joseph, three wise men, and sometimes some animals that would belong in a stable. Churches that practice Christianity will perform Christmas plays that describe the night of the birth of baby Jesus in a manger. Catholic churches will have a midnight mass on the night of Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth. In the month of December, aside from just the church festivities, people will sing traditional Christmas carols, buy Christmas trees, and place wrapped presents under the tree to exchange at a Christmas party or on Christmas morning.

The Muslim community has two celebrations that they conduct within a year and Christmas is not one of the holidays. Along with Christmas being the celebration to memorialize the birth of Jesus, Muslims do believe in Jesus but do not believe he is God or the son of God. According to the Islamic religion, Jesus’ birth was either in March or September based on the season indications in the Bible . Another viewpoint of the Christmas holiday is that Christmas is really just a new purposed pagan celebration which is not supported by the Islamic religion (Paganism).

Hindus in America, for a while until the population of Hindus increased, celebrated Christmas to adjust into American culture. Even with population growth, some Hindus still participate in the festivities of gift giving and parties. Aside from how Hindus celebrate in America, the Hindus in India do celebrate in December with a five-day holiday called Pancha Ganapati. The celebration begins on December 21 to celebrate the elephant-headed lord of culture and new beginnings. Some festivities the Hindus partake in are outings, picnics, gift giving, feasts, decorating their homes with pine boughs or durva grass, and putting up lights and ornaments. The major portion of the celebration is putting up a statue of Ganesha in the home and dressing the statue for each day of the celebration in colors of yellow, blue, red, green, and orange.

Christmas is a time of gift giving and practicing peace and goodwill toward mankind. Buddhists can practice their religion and see the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. Buddhists celebrate the holidays by hanging up Christmas decorations in their temples, sending cards to loved ones, holding late night vigils, and occasionally listen to Christmas music.

The Jewish do not celebrate Christmas, but instead, celebrate a holiday know as Chanukah (Hanukkah). Chanukah is an eight-day festival of lights that is celebrated by a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers, and foods (fried). Chanukah memorializes the small army of Jews that defeated the mighty Greek Army in the second century BCE. The Jewish reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and as a symbol of reclaiming the temple, the menorah was to be lit; however, only a single cruse of olive oil was left. Even with a little bit of olive oil, the menorah was still lit and stayed lit for eight days. To remember this wonder, Chanukah was created.

12 Reasons Why I Love Christmas

What's not to love but these reasons are why christmas is best.

There are so many reasons why I love the Christmas time! Check out the joy that makes this time of year truly special, from festive traditions to heartwarming moments. Enjoy!

1. The Decorations

Everything is so colorful and jolly. All the stores have bright lights and sparkly decorations. Homes have Christmas trees glistening through the window with bright lights, snowflakes, and ice sickles from the rooftop.

2. Hot Chocolate

I am the type of person who does not like eggnog, but I love some hot coco. Add milk and some little marshmallows to make it incredible. Putting it in a cute little Christmas mug makes it even better.

In North Carolina, it hardly snows during winter, but I have seen snow. I love playing in the snow, making forts, and building snowmen. I love watching my dogs play in the snow. It is so beautiful and breathtaking.

4. Christmas Movies

I enjoy wrapping up on the couch with tons of blankets and watching a good Christmas movie. My favorite is Home Alone and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Those always put me in the mood.

5. Wrapping Gifts

There is something about putting together a gift. Wrapping it up and putting a pretty bow on top is so pleasing. Then to put it under the tree makes it even more beautiful.

6. Spending Time with Family & Friends

Nothing honestly beats spending quality time with your family and friends. The conversations are always funny and entertaining. You create more memories as you reminisce on the old ones. Laughter is in the air, and so is a good time.

7. The Food

This is when the best food is cooked. You get to fill up and eat more than you ever had. You get to have a wonderful home-cooked meal and gather around the table with friends and family. This is also the time when there are so many desserts that are so yummy.

8. Giving Back

I think it is important to give back to your community. You can go to the soup kitchen, volunteer with an organization, or adopt a kid to give gifts to. All of these are great ideas, and there are plenty more, depending on where you live.

9. Buying Gifts for Others

I get so giddy and excited when I buy a gift for a loved one. I imagine their reaction and what they’re going to feel inside when they unwrap their gift. They will see the sentiment and thought that I put into the gift.

10. The Christmas Tree

Finding the perfect Christmas tree is the best. You search long and hard and maybe even chop your own one down. Then you get to put it up, and the whole house smells of the tree. You get to decorate the tree and watch it come alive. This is when the magic comes alive.

11. Opening Gifts

I think everyone enjoys opening presents. I cannot wait to open gifts from loved ones because it really is the thought that counts. I enjoy seeing their faces when I open the gift because they bought it thinking of me, which is what matters most.

12. The Christmas Spirit

There is such a thing as the Christmas spirit. Everyone is jolly and happy . The giving mood is increased, and being friendly becomes the norm. Smiles and laughter are coming from everyone.

Christmas is my favorite holiday for many reasons. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas

A Beginner's Wine Appreciation Course

While i most certainly do not know everything, i feel like i know more than the average 21-year-old about vino, so i wrote this beginner's wine appreciate course to help you navigate the wine world and drink like a pro..

A lot of people our age (21-25) don't really drink wine because they want to appreciate it, they drink it to get "f*cked up" in a "classy" way.

***Reality check: if you're still blacking out every time you drink, it's not classy OR healthy*** So if you're reading this article, this probably means you want to learn to appreciate wine a little bit more, or learn a few new facts that you can whip out in front of your Barefoot chugging friends (I like Barefoot), or maybe you're just looking to feel more comfortable going into a winery's tasting room. It can be intimidating when your server is whipping out terms like "oak-aged" or "tartrate crystals."

I started working at a winery recently, and my employers have really taken me into the industry fold. I'm going to be learning and doing everything: from tasting room, to harvesting, to making, filtering, sampling (yes, that's right ;)) and so on. I had always known that wineries work hard to make their product, but I'm only just learning that creating the right taste practically a science. While I most certainly do not know everything, I feel like I know more than the average 21-year-old about vino, so I wrote this article to help YOU navigate the wine world!

Part I of IV: advice for when you first start going out to wineries.

1. Figure out what kind of wine drinker you might be. If you haven't ever been to a winery, and the most experience you have drinking it is at parties or Grandma's for holiday dinner, you should start your wine journey by figuring out what kind of wine you *might* gravitate to. But Alexis, isn't the point of going to a winery to experience new wines? Well, yes. But you can probably narrow down what kind of flight you would want to try if you know what kind of drinks you like: do you have a sweet tooth? Are you more of a dirty martini kind of person? If you like sweet drinks, tell your server that. Not a fan of sugar? They'll set up dry tasting. Not sure about about either? Most wineries offer middle-of-the-road wine styles that may be a little sweet, but not too dry either. We call them off-dry. 2. Pick a place based on your choices. Part of the reason I suggested you contemplate what kind of wine drinker you might be is because based on what your taste profile may be, you will want to start off with a winery that will match your palate. I live in Maryland, and my state has the wonderful nickname of "America in miniature." We have a lot of little microclimates, which change what kind of grapes work best in what region. The winery where I work currently has a strong showing of sweet wines, whereas some of the other wineries in the neighboring county have a better dry wine production. NOTE: It is important to know that just because a winery may have a reputation for making good sweet reds or good dry whites does not mean they don't have good wines in general. What another person hates, you might love and vice versa! 3. Go with friends! That's just because it's more fun! And a lot or wineries will have an amazing atmosphere, especially if the tasting room is on the property where the grapes are grown. It makes a great little getaway. Also, you may or may not need a DD.

4. Trust the server. Odds are the person who is running your tasting knows a little bit about wine and has served plenty of people with all kinds of palates. Don't be afraid to tell them that you aren't sure what your taste profile might be, and that you have some idea. They'll guide you along based on that particular winery's offerings. Some wineries offer a dry flight and a sweet flight, or a make your won flight for a set price. The ones with make your own can be hard to navigate, because there are often lots of choices! But again, ask questions! Your server can help you find something you'll like. NOTE: Some wineries have a set list of tastings for the day, but if something that they offer in the bottle piques your interest, ask to try it! The worst thing they can say is no.

5. Let yourself experiment! The greatest thing about going to a winery is that you get to try new things. You might find that you really like oak-aged dry whites and sweet reds. You might also be pleasantly surprised that you like something you thought you would hate.

6. Buy the wines you like at the winery. It's cheaper to buy a local wine at the winery itself because you don't have to pay the up-charge a liquor store would charge so they can make a profit. Plus, you can share a bottle that you picked yourself from the winery with your friends and family . (It always feels cool to be able to say that you picked it out!) That being said, sometimes price does NOT indicate the quality of a wine! I love some $100 wines, but I love some of my $10 wines just as much. What is important is that YOU find a wine YOU like!

Part II of IV: What to buy at the liquor store

You can, of course, continue going to wineries and buying your bottles there, but you'll still want to try other styles and brands. That's when you get to go to the liquor store and be intimidated once more, this time by the variety of selection you'll have. So what do you do when you don't get a chance to try a wine before you buy it? Take a leap of faith, yes, but you can still take an educated guess! 1. Remember what you like. Based on your previous experience, you should look at the labels of bottles and read the blurbs liquor stores have written/printed about the wine and try to find a wine you're willing to try. 2. Ask for help. Some liquor stores that have a large selection of wine probably have a staff that can answer a few questions, one of them being "what sweet/dry/white/red wines do you have?" 3. Google is #bae. You should absolutely use Google if you can't find anything written about the wine on or around the bottle. If it is something that really intrigues you, look up the winery that produced it because usually their website will tell you about the wine's flavor. NOTE: Do NOT look up the variety/blend of wine that it is and ask Google if such-and-such is a sweet/dry wine, because not everyone makes their varietal/blended wine the same (i.e. Winery A might make their Riesling more sweet than Winery B). Avoid the problem by going to the Winery's website.

Part III of IV: The restaurant menu

1. Unless otherwise stated, most wine menus go White Wines, Red Wines, Dessert Wines with the top of each category being the driest, and the bottom being the sweetest. Some menus will go by region, and others (menus that are very small) will just go dry to sweet, regardless of color . 2. The first number is the glass price, the second is the bottle price. So if you see this: Alexis B's VWinery 2009 Merlot, Maryland........... 7/20 You know that the glass price is $7 and the bottle price is $20.

3. Ask your server for a pairing. Depending on the restaurant, some serving staff may be very good with pairings, or know their menu well enough to tell you what you should pair with what. NOTE: The old adage "white wines go with white meats, red wines go with red meats" is pretty true, but I've had some fabulous white pairings with red meats before. 4. Ask your friends what they like, and buy a bottle. It will be so much cheaper if you can all agree on one wine and buy the bottle rather than buying by the glass. This also holds true for buying glasses v bottles at wineries. Part IV of IV: Lingo

Congratulations! You have survived my crash course Wine Appreciation 101! That wasn;'t so hard, was it? It's easy to feel overwhelmed, but just remember: every person who know a lot about wine started out knowing absolutely nothing and making some terrible pairings. Now go and experience some great wine, show off your knowledge, and be sure to grab a glass for me ;)

15 Kinds Of Ice Cream From Around The World

Countries have their own creative twists.

Who doesn't love ice cream? People from all over the world enjoy the frozen dessert, but different countries have their own twists on the classic treat.

1. Italy: Gelato

Gelato, perhaps one of the best-known varieties of ice cream from around the world, has less fat, more sugar and less air than other frozen desserts .

2. Turkey: Dondurma

In Turkey, dondurma’s elastic and stretchy texture and resistance to melting make it extremely popular with street vendors, who play with the ice cream before serving it to customers.

3. Japan: Mochi

The small ball is actually ice cream in the middle surrounded by a sticky rice cake.

4. Israel: Halva

The Israeli treat is made with sesame flavored halva, a compact honey-like candy, which is popular across the Middle East and Asia.

5. Iran: Faloodeh

Ice cream in Iran is often served with pasta noodles, rose water, lime juice and pistachios.

6. Germany : Spaghettieis

Germany’s take on the dessert is a spin on a dish of spaghetti: vanilla ice cream is run through a pasta maker to mimic spaghetti, strawberry sauce is drizzled on top to mimic tomato sauce and coconut flakes, shredded almonds or white chocolate is used to mimic the Parmesan cheese.

7. Mexico: Paletas

Paletas are extremely similar to popsicles, except that they must contain fresh fruit to be classified as such.

8. India : Kulfi

Kulfi is similar to ice cream, though its increased density and creaminess allows it to be molded and served on a popsicle stick and topped with pistachios.

9. Thailand: I Tim Pad

Thailand’s i tim pad , which is often sold by street vendors, is the rolled ice cream that has become a novelty dessert here in America.

10. China: Fried Ice Cream

Though supposedly invented in the United States, fried ice cream has become popular in Asia, and the Chinese version uses ice cream flavors like green tea and red bean, fried in a tempura batter.

11. Greece : Pagoto

Greek ice cream is a mix of gelato and dondurma, which makes sense considering its location in relation to Italy and Turkey.

12. Philippines: Sorbetes

Although it sounds like it, the Filipino dessert is not sorbet. It is cheese-flavored ice cream made with coconut milk and served in a bread bun.

13. Malaysia: Ais Kacang

The ice cream variety found in Malaysia and Singapore is actually shaved ice topped with cooked red beans and evaporated milk.

14. South Korea: J-Cone

The cone, made with crushed corn, resembles a churro, and ice cream is served on both ends of the J-shaped cone.

15. United States: Everything

The U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have everything that you can imagine. Just think of all the varieties we have: the typical hard ice cream, frozen yogurt, Dippin’ Dots, soft serve, sorbet, Italian ice, custard ice cream, sherbet, snow cones, ice pops, milkshakes, ice cream cookie sandwiches and those skinny ice pop things in the plastic that you have to cut and no one knows the name of it, but you know exactly what I’m talking about.

100 Reasons to Choose Happiness

Happy moments to brighten your day.

As any other person on this planet, it sometimes can be hard to find the good in things. However, as I have always tried my hardest to find happiness in any and every moment and just generally always try to find the best in every situation, I have realized that your own happiness is much more important than people often think. Finding the good in any situation can help you to find happiness in some of the simplest and unexpected places.

Many people often think that happiness can be found by creating the largest social media pool, trying to be someone that they are not in order to be accepted or even having the nicest car or the biggest house. But happiness does not come from these material or “fake” things. It comes from strong connections with people you love, having gratitude and consideration for the people around you and finding happiness in the most unexpected and often overlooked places.

Constantly reminding yourself that your happiness is one of the most important things and sometimes having to put your happiness first is something that should be happening every day. Personally, my happiness comes from thousands of things ranging from reading a book all the way to vacationing to the ocean and everything in between. Also, I find happiness in the happiness of others and seeing others in content, but this also sometimes means that I do not put my happiness first.

Everyone has their flaws and many people are like me—forgetting to put their happiness before others. Therefore, in order to give you just a simple idea of how easy it is to find happiness in the smallest of places, here are 100 reminders of happiness that surround you each and every day. This list also purposes for each of you to think of your own reminders that make you happy and to tell yourself that your happiness is important and that you should always find happiness in every situation in the most unexpected places.

  • You are loved by more than you could ever imagine.
  • You have a home.
  • Flowers are blooming around you.
  • Summer is closer than it has been all year.
  • You talked to someone you love today.
  • You are beautiful.
  • Listening to the rain hit the roof when you fall asleep.
  • Freshly mowed grass.
  • Watching the stars at night.
  • Someone in your life wants you to be happy.
  • You have food to eat and water to drink.
  • Chocolate is still existing.
  • There are dogs to pet and to cuddle with.
  • You are talented and have a special talent that no one else knows about.
  • Listening to music.
  • One Direction .
  • You are able to help someone.
  • Volunteering for a charity.
  • Sitting on a dock.
  • Taking pictures with your best friends.
  • Going to a cabin.
  • You have cute clothes to wear every day.
  • Someone said, “Hi” to you today.
  • Someone thinks you are the most important person in their life.
  • Someone looks up to you.
  • You have a job or some other commitment.
  • You believe in something.
  • Someone believes in you.
  • Listening to the birds chirping outside.
  • Finding a dandelion in the middle of a grassy lawn.
  • Starbucks is a thing.
  • You have or will see the Northern Lights.
  • Vacations or camping or nights out.
  • Spontaneous road trips .
  • You can do anything that you set your mind to.
  • You believe in someone else.
  • Warm, melty chocolate chip cookies.
  • You matter.
  • Chicken noodle soup when you are sick .
  • Grey’s Anatomy/One Tree Hill/Gossip Girl.
  • Freshly cleaned sheets.
  • You have dreams and goals .
  • You are inspiring .
  • You are inspired by something or someone else.
  • Bright colored daisies.
  • Reading your favorite book over and over again.
  • Coming home and changing into an over-sized sweatshirt and leggings.
  • Going out and dressing up.
  • But feeling confident in both.
  • Sleeping in on Sunday mornings.
  • Getting up to watch the sunrise.
  • Surprising someone or being surprised.
  • Art museums.
  • Good nights and good morning’s.
  • Laughing, laughing, laughing.
  • Making someone else laugh.
  • Board games.
  • Rainy days.
  • Sunny days.
  • You are vibrant and radiant.
  • Bare feet in the sand.
  • Highlighting quotes in your favorite books .
  • Seeing others happy.
  • Seeing couples holding hands.
  • Your mother, father, sister, brother, grandpa , grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins, etc.
  • Putting your music on shuffle and having your favorite song come on first.
  • Did I mention One Direction?
  • Oh, and BeyoncĂ©.
  • Saltwater and sea shells.
  • Loving something or someone with the strongest passion.
  • Being the only one on the court/field/track/ice.
  • Feeling invincible.
  • Adrenaline.
  • Conquering one of your fears.
  • Listening to someone’s heartbeat.
  • Talking to someone about their favorite things or memories.
  • Disney movies.
  • God , Jesus and your faith.
  • Girls’/Guys’ night.
  • Butterflies.
  • Airports and airplanes.
  • Acing a hard test or failing and learning from it.
  • Sleeping with the window open.
  • Being there for someone no matter what.
  • Trusting someone.
  • You are the best at something.
  • You are someone’s best friend .
  • Chocolate still exists.
  • You can move mountains.
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nature makes me happy essay


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Why is it that spending time surrounded by Nature makes us feel better?  This article from ecowatch.com written by nature-based US psychotherapist, Kris Abrams explores the topic why and comes up with ten possible reasons why spending time with Nature makes us happier.


One of the better known theories, the “biophilia hypothesis,” suggests that we love nature because we evolved in it. We need it for our psychological well-being because it’s in our DNA. This theory rings true to me. But it’s so broad, it also leaves me grasping for more. What is it about nature and our relationship to it, that brings us so much joy? I’ve been asking this question for some years now. I’ve studied Ecopsychology, wilderness therapy and nature-based therapy. In my private psychotherapy practice, I work with clients in nature and bear witness to their experiences. And personally, I spend as much time as I can in nature. Putting all of this together, I’ve developed my own ideas about why nature makes us feel good and helps us heal.

Here are the top ten:  


 Consider: When you’re in nature, you don’t have to look in mirrors. Instead, you’re either focused on the setting around you, or on what you are doing, like climbing, setting up a tent, or gardening. Studies show that people’s body image improves when we spend time in nature, and I think this is part of the reason why. When you’re alone in nature, or with a loving friend or group of people, you get sweet relief from sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and all the other ways we oppress, stigmatize and belittle one another. On the contrary, nature displays incredible diversity in all her glory. There are fat trees and skinny ones, short ones and tall ones. Within a single clump of yellow flowers, you might see a pink one and realize that it’s a mutation. In nature, we don’t say ‘How wrong! That flower is different; that tree is fat!’ Instead, we say, ‘How beautiful!’ This impacts us below the level of thought.  


Urgency, deadlines and “clock time,” as measured by hours, minutes and seconds, melt away. Clocks teach us to abandon the natural rhythms of our bodies and the Earth and conform to a schedule rooted in our economic system. That creates a lot of stress. On the flip side, nature models a healthier pace of life. Trees and plants grow s – l – o – w – l – y. Deer graze calmly. Rabbits and squirrels scamper about, but that is their natural pace. Everyone is moving according to their natural rhythm, and you begin to do the same.  


Our culture teaches us that we never have enough. We strive to make more money, buy more things, eat more delicious food. Mainstream culture also encourages us not to think about how this over-consumption affects others, such as the sweatshop laborers who make our clothes, or the people and animals who depend on a climate in balance. In contrast, eco systems embody harmony and balance. Trees grow to a height that reflects the nutrients and water immediately available. Squirrels store the right amount of food to get them through the winter. (Imagine how absurd it would be if squirrels expected their collection of nuts to grow exponentially without any effort on their part—as we do with our investments!) Quietly witnessing this balance and harmony is like salve in the wound of overconsumption.  


Our culture propagates the harmful myth that we should strive to be as comfortable as possible, to make life as pleasurable possible, and to resist hardship as much as possible. No myth has made us unhappier as people. We simply can’t be pleasured or comfortable all the time. We can’t control everything. Trying to achieve permanent comfort and control leads to a dull, meaningless life that kills the soul. Nature calls you back to reality. You can’t stop it from raining. You can’t delay the setting sun. You can’t set the temperature to a comfortable 70 degrees. If you’re climbing a mountain, your muscles are going to burn.But with this surrender comes such relief! You awake from a dream and realize how little control you really have. You remember that hardship and lack of control are part of life, and accepting this reality makes it not only bearable, but possible to feel the joy of being alive.  


In the U.S., we do everything we can to avoid the knowledge that we, and everyone we love, are going to die. In nature, you encounter dead trees all the time. And, behold!—they’re nursing young plants to life. You walk through a burn area and see a profusion of wildflowers thriving in the newly enriched soil. You might even see animal skulls and bones. When we come face to face with death, we value our own life more, the present moment more, and experience surges of joy to be alive. Many cancer survivors know this truth well from a harsh encounter with death. Nature eases us into this reality.  


What a relief! Enough said  


 How is such majesty possible? The strength of that mountain, standing there for all those years! The miracle of this single flower, infused with sunlight. The revelation of a tree, rooted deep in the earth, stretching to the sky, and bearing silent witness to the world around it! You feel awe and joy and are whole again.  


You feel that you belong to this Earth. That you are part of the community of nature. You are made of the same substance, and that you are no better—and no worse—than that bird, that tree, that other human walking up the trail.  


You feel comfortable in your own skin, you experience your own quiet peace and strength, you sense the inner you that is the true you. The mask you present to the outer world is irrelevant for a time, and put in its proper place.  


Whether you call it God, Earth Mother, the Great Mystery or by another name, nature helps you to connect with this powerful, loving presence. You might feel this presence loving and supporting you. You might receive guidance and wisdom. Nature brings you closer to our own spirit and to Spirit. These are the reasons why I believe we are so happy in the natural world. This is why nature heals, and helps us to live lives of meaning and joy.

Why Nature Makes us happier


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Essay: How Nature Makes People Happy?

How nature makes people happy ? Nowadays people have started to care more and more about earning money and their financial wellbeing that they have forgotten that the roots of happiness lie beyond the daily living. Due to the fact that we do not have time to realise it, we have started to care less about the natural environment and surroundings. Even though there are numerous distractors from nature’s source of happiness , we should bear in mind that our root as civilized people are closely tied to nature. First I will ponder on modern society and its close relation to nature, Then I will take into consideration the attraction of humans for the natural environment. Moving on to the next point of view, I will discuss about the necessity of finding a balance between people, nature and the social development. Towards the end, the necessary solutions for the ongoing problem will be valued. First of all, the development of modern society is closely related to nature. …show more content…

To do this we need help from the government ,where they should place in every neighborhood recycle bins with different labors and colours to separate the litter .In some countries we can see them but ,because people do not pay attention they throw away the garbage in the wrong place.So the next step is for the community to unite and start separating the garbage .The question is now : how recycling is going to save the environment ? For the nature is good because it helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste and also this can help deforestation because recycling decreases the need of raw materials. But this is not all, recycling is good for people too.First ,because we need to save some forests and clean air for our next generations and also this is a good way of reducing the price of production because the raw materials are more expensive to produce then the reused

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How nature can make you kinder, happier, and more creative, we are spending more time indoors and online. but recent studies suggest that nature can help our brains and bodies to stay healthy..

I’ve been an avid hiker my whole life. From the time I first strapped on a backpack and headed into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I was hooked on the experience, loving the way being in nature cleared my mind and helped me to feel more grounded and peaceful.

But, even though I’ve always believed that hiking in nature had many psychological benefits, I’ve never had much science to back me up…until now, that is. Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, and our ability to connect with other people.

“People have been discussing their profound experiences in nature for the last several 100 years—from Thoreau to John Muir to many other writers,” says researcher David Strayer, of the University of Utah. “Now we are seeing changes in the brain and changes in the body that suggest we are physically and mentally more healthy when we are interacting with nature.”

nature makes me happy essay

While he and other scientists may believe nature benefits our well-being, we live in a society where people spend more and more time indoors and online—especially children. Findings on how nature improves our brains brings added legitimacy to the call for preserving natural spaces—both urban and wild—and for spending more time in nature in order to lead healthier, happier, and more creative lives.

Here are some of the ways that science is showing how being in nature affects our brains and bodies.

mountain walk

1. Being in nature decreases stress

It’s clear that hiking—and any physical activity—can reduce stress and anxiety. But, there’s something about being in nature that may augment those impacts.

In one recent experiment conducted in Japan, participants were assigned to walk either in a forest or in an urban center (taking walks of equal length and difficulty) while having their heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure measured. The participants also filled out questionnaires about their moods, stress levels, and other psychological measures.

Results showed that those who walked in forests had significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (indicating more relaxation and less stress), and reported better moods and less anxiety, than those who walked in urban settings. The researchers concluded that there’s something about being in nature that had a beneficial effect on stress reduction, above and beyond what exercise alone might have produced.

In another study , researchers in Finland found that urban dwellers who strolled for as little as 20 minutes through an urban park or woodland reported significantly more stress relief than those who strolled in a city center.

The reasons for this effect are unclear; but scientists believe that we evolved to be more relaxed in natural spaces. In a now-classic laboratory experiment by Roger Ulrich of Texas A&M University and colleagues, participants who first viewed a stress-inducing movie, and were then exposed to color/sound videotapes depicting natural scenes, showed much quicker, more complete recovery from stress than those who’d been exposed to videos of urban settings.

These studies and others provide evidence that being in natural spaces— or even just looking out of a window onto a natural scene—somehow soothes us and relieves stress.


2. Nature makes you happier and less brooding

I’ve always found that hiking in nature makes me feel happier, and of course decreased stress may be a big part of the reason why. But, Gregory Bratman, of Stanford University, has found evidence that nature may impact our mood in other ways, too.

In one 2015 study , he and his colleagues randomly assigned 60 participants to a 50-minute walk in either a natural setting (oak woodlands) or an urban setting (along a four-lane road). Before and after the walk, the participants were assessed on their emotional state and on cognitive measures, such as how well they could perform tasks requiring short-term memory. Results showed that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, in comparison to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks.

In another study, he and his colleagues extended these findings by zeroing in on how walking in nature affects rumination—which has been associated with the onset of depression and anxiety—while also using fMRI technology to look at brain activity. Participants who took a 90-minute walk in either a natural setting or an urban setting had their brains scanned before and after their walks and were surveyed on self-reported rumination levels (as well as other psychological markers). The researchers controlled for many potential factors that might influence rumination or brain activity—for example, physical exertion levels as measured by heart rates and pulmonary functions.

Even so, participants who walked in a natural setting versus an urban setting reported decreased rumination after the walk, and they showed increased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain whose deactivation is affiliated with depression and anxiety—a finding that suggests nature may have important impacts on mood.

Bratman believes results like these need to reach city planners and others whose policies impact our natural spaces. “Ecosystem services are being incorporated into decision making at all levels of public policy, land use planning, and urban design, and it’s very important to be sure to incorporate empirical findings from psychology into these decisions,” he says.


3. Nature relieves attention fatigue and increases creativity.

Today, we live with ubiquitous technology designed to constantly pull for our attention. But many scientists believe our brains were not made for this kind of information bombardment, and that it can lead to mental fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout, requiring “attention restoration” to get back to a normal, healthy state.

Strayer is one of those researchers. He believes that being in nature restores depleted attention circuits, which can then help us be more open to creativity and problem-solving.

“When you use your cell phone to talk, text, shoot photos, or whatever else you can do with your cell phone, you’re tapping the prefrontal cortex and causing reductions in cognitive resources,” he says.

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In a 2012 study , he and his colleagues showed that hikers on a four-day backpacking trip could solve significantly more puzzles requiring creativity when compared to a control group of people waiting to take the same hike—in fact, 47 percent more. Although other factors may account for his results—for example, the exercise or the camaraderie of being out together—prior studies have suggested that nature itself may play an important role. One in Psychological Science found that the impact of nature on attention restoration is what accounted for improved scores on cognitive tests for the study participants.

This phenomenon may be due to differences in brain activation when viewing natural scenes versus more built-up scenes—even for those who normally live in an urban environment. In a recent study conducted by Peter Aspinall at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and colleagues, participants who had their brains monitored continuously using mobile electroencephalogram (EEG) while they walked through an urban green space had brain EEG readings indicating lower frustration, engagement, and arousal, and higher meditation levels while in the green area, and higher engagement levels when moving out of the green area. This lower engagement and arousal may be what allows for attention restoration, encouraging a more open, meditative mindset.

It’s this kind of brain activity—sometimes referred to as “the brain default network”—that is tied to creative thinking , says Strayer. He is currently repeating his earlier 2012 study with a new group of hikers and recording their EEG activity and salivary cortisol levels before, during, and after a three-day hike. Early analyses of EEG readings support the theory that hiking in nature seems to rest people’s attention networks and to engage their default networks.

Strayer and colleagues are also specifically looking at the effects of technology by monitoring people’s EEG readings while they walk in an arboretum, either while talking on their cell phone or not. So far, they’ve found that participants with cell phones appear to have EEG readings consistent with attention overload, and can recall only half as many details of the arboretum they just passed through, compared to those who were not on a cell phone.

Though Strayer’s findings are preliminary, they are consistent with other people’s findings on the importance of nature to attention restoration and creativity.

“If you’ve been using your brain to multitask—as most of us do most of the day—and then you set that aside and go on a walk, without all of the gadgets, you’ve let the prefrontal cortex recover,” says Strayer. “And that’s when we see these bursts in creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.”

family hike

4. Nature may help you to be kind and generous

Whenever I go to places like Yosemite or the Big Sur Coast of California, I seem to return to my home life ready to be more kind and generous to those around me—just ask my husband and kids! Now some new studies may shed light on why that is.

In a series of experiments published in 2014, Juyoung Lee, GGSC director Dacher Keltner, and other researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, studied the potential impact of nature on the willingness to be generous, trusting, and helpful toward others, while considering what factors might influence that relationship.

As part of their study, the researchers exposed participants to more or less subjectively beautiful nature scenes (whose beauty levels were rated independently) and then observed how participants behaved playing two economics games—the Dictator Game and the Trust Game—that measure generosity and trust, respectively. After being exposed to the more beautiful nature scenes, participants acted more generously and more trusting in the games than those who saw less beautiful scenes, and the effects appeared to be due to corresponding increases in positive emotion.

In another part of the study, the researchers asked people to fill out a survey about their emotions while sitting at a table where more or less beautiful plants were placed. Afterwards, the participants were told that the experiment was over and they could leave, but that if they wanted to they could volunteer to make paper cranes for a relief effort program in Japan. The number of cranes they made (or didn’t make) was used as a measure of their “prosociality” or willingness to help.

Results showed that the presence of more beautiful plants significantly increased the number of cranes made by participants, and that this increase was, again, mediated by positive emotion elicited by natural beauty. The researchers concluded that experiencing the beauty of nature increases positive emotion—perhaps by inspiring awe, a feeling akin to wonder, with the sense of being part of something bigger than oneself—which then leads to prosocial behaviors.

Support for this theory comes from an experiment conducted by Paul Piff of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues, in which participants staring up a grove of very tall trees for as little as one minute experienced measurable increases in awe, and demonstrated more helpful behavior and approached moral dilemmas more ethically, than participants who spent the same amount of time looking up at a high building.


5. Nature makes you “feel more alive”

With all of these benefits to being out in nature, it’s probably no surprise that something about nature makes us feel more alive and vital . Being outdoors gives us energy, makes us happier, helps us to relieve the everyday stresses of our overscheduled lives, opens the door to creativity, and helps us to be kind to others.

No one knows if there is an ideal amount of nature exposure, though Strayer says that longtime backpackers suggest a minimum of three days to really unplug from our everyday lives. Nor can anyone say for sure how nature compares to other forms of stress relief or attention restoration, such as sleep or meditation. Both Strayer and Bratman say we need a lot more careful research to tease out these effects before we come to any definitive conclusions.

Still, the research does suggest there’s something about nature that keeps us psychologically healthy, and that’s good to know…especially since nature is a resource that’s free and that many of us can access by just walking outside our door. Results like these should encourage us as a society to consider more carefully how we preserve our wilderness spaces and our urban parks.

And while the research may not be conclusive, Strayer is optimistic that science will eventually catch up to what people like me have intuited all along—that there’s something about nature that renews us, allowing us to feel better, to think better, and to deepen our understanding of ourselves and others.

“You can’t have centuries of people writing about this and not have something going on,” says Strayer. “If you are constantly on a device or in front of a screen, you’re missing out on something that’s pretty spectacular: the real world.”

About the Author


Jill Suttie

Jill Suttie, Psy.D. , is Greater Good ’s former book review editor and now serves as a staff writer and contributing editor for the magazine. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good .

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First of all, I would like to say that I am fond of spending time with my family, relatives and friends. I am keen on communicating with them. I’m fond of watching figure skating, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, hockey matches and championships, especially World and European, Olympic Game. It is true that we live in a complex and stressful world. We all in a hurry and our leisure time is more valuable than ever before. Personally, I prefer to spend my free time outdoors for the following reasons. Firstly, I believe that nowadays we spend more time indoor than our ancestors did. So, we have lost the link with the nature and as a result we face health problems, stress and depression. Therefore we have to spend our leisure time outdoors to balance this situation. That is why I prefer walking in the park near my home or swimming in the sea than stay into my home in my free time. Secondly, it seems to me that we live more and more in solitude. We live in huge blocks of flats with hundreds neighborhoods but in many cases we do not know anybody. If we spend our free time into our apartments we increase the isolation and the loneliness. In my view, the best solution is to find occasions to meet people and it is better for example to do team sports outdoor than exercise alone in a private gym. Taking everything into consideration, I believe that it is better to spend our leisure time outdoors, in social activities or team sports than be inside for private activities because I am convinced that we have to link again with the nature if we want to have a balanced life.…

Social Education And Religious State Of The Manufacturing Calls By Sir Edward Ashley Analysis

This text is an excerpt from Social, Educational, And Religious State of the Manufacturing Districts, written by Sir Edward Baines and published in 1843. The text can be expected to learn about the role and the place of religion, education and social in the districts were the manufacture is more developed. The text can also be expected to deal with the factory workers’ life conditions. The tone in this text is sarcastic and polemic. The sources used by the author for this document are the Lord Ashley’s speech (the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, between 1811 and 1855), the data given by the associations and by the Report of the Children Employment Commissioners (Commission created by Lord Ashley, they investigated about children’s working conditions…

thoreau's idea of simplicity

In the modern world, though the living conditions become better and better, lives become more and more sophisticated and materialistic. Lots of people feel they get lost in the modern society. Therefore, an increasing number of people begin to advocate a simplified life style to find the essence of life. This idea of simplicity is not new, it has already been expressed by Thoreau hundreds years ago. Through his famous novel Walden, he urge people to live simply by getting rid of the unnecessary things, getting in touch with nature and being aware of surroundings. As a result, the simplicity of life can lead a person to a better existence.…

Nature Essay

Nature is an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, he wanted to be remembered as a poet before all so we can predict many hidden metaphors and deep meanings in his works. Emerson could probably write forever about nature and all of its wonders. He talks about how much one has to gain from nature; he is constantly mentioning a larger being than us. Emerson strives to show us the true value of nature and emphasize that no main can own its beauty, “But none of them owns the landscape, there is a property in the horizon which no man has” here we see where Emerson enlightens upon the subject that we should remove our chains and titles, that we may own a piece of land but that does not change its beauty or view. I feel like Emerson wants us to spend more time with nature and respect it more, that we should not stress as much about material earthly things but just be and enjoy being a part of something much larger “but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence” here Emerson is saying that we need to open our eyes and observe nature and realize its potential. Further on in the Nature essay Emerson says “The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child” Emerson is trying to get us to be more childlike, to have that young innocence we had as children, that we should have that innocence but still be mature. Emerson wants us to know that in nature we can understand reality, that when one has become a part of nature nothing can go wrong, that when we are with nature we can accomplish anything as one, of course nature helps us to accomplish the amazing but we must also work with it and not just expect it to do everything. “I become a transparent eye-ball” is what Emerson tells us happens in nature, that in nature egotism vanishes; you cannot hide from nature out there, because you are and you become a deeper part of something much greater, of…

Related Topics

  • Nicomachean Ethics
  • Positive psychology
  • Happiness economics

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Essay on Nature for Children and Students

Table of Contents

Nature Essay: Nature is an integral part of our lives. But even while we appreciate the blessings she bestows on us, we forget that we are plundering her treasures and thereby denying our children the pleasure of enjoying nature in all her abundance and variety.

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Find very simple and easy to understand essay on nature. Bring some creativity in the education of your lovely kids, children and students who are studying in nursery, KG, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Nature is the most important thing for our life and our kids should know about this. So motivate their learning through following nature essay.

Long and Short Essay on Nature in English

Nature essay in 100 words.

We live on the most beautiful planet, Earth which has very clean and attractive nature full of greenery. Nature is our best friend which provides us all the resources to live here. It gives us water to drink, pure air to breathe, food to eat, land to stay, animals, plants for our other uses, etc for our betterment. We should fully enjoy the nature without disturbing its ecological balance. We should care our nature, make it peaceful, keep it clean and prevent it from the destruction so that we can enjoy our nature forever. Nature is a most precious gift given by the God to us to enjoy but not to harm.

Nature Essay in 150 words

Nature is the most beautiful and attractive surrounding around us which make us happy and provide us natural environment to live healthy. Our nature provides us variety of beautiful flowers, attractive birds, animals, green plants, blue sky, land, running rivers, sea, forests, air, mountains, valleys, hills and many more things. Our God has created a beautiful nature for the healthy living of us. All the things we use for our living are the assets of nature which we should not spoil and damage.

We should not destroy the originality of the nature and should not imbalance the ecosystem cycle. Our nature provides us beautiful environment to live and enjoy so it is our responsibility to keep it clean and away from all the damages. In the modern era, many selfish and bad activities of the human being have disturbed the nature to a great extent. But we all should try to maintain our nature’s beauty.

Nature Essay in 200 words

The nature is everything around us which surrounds us with beautiful environment. We see and enjoy it every moment. We observe natural changes in it, hear it and feel it everywhere. We should take full advantage of the nature and go out of home for the morning walk daily to breathe pure air and enjoy morning beauty of nature. All though the day it changes it beauty like in the morning when sun rises everything looks bright orange and then yellowish. In the evening when sun sets it again becomes dark orange and then light dark.

The nature has everything for us but we do not have anything for it even we are destroying its property day by day to just fulfill our selfish wishes. In the modern technological world lots of inventions are getting launched daily without its advantage and disadvantage to the nature. It is our responsibility to save the declining assets of our nature to make possible the existence of life forever on the earth. If we do not take any step towards nature conservation, we are keeping our future generations at danger. We should understood its worth and value and try to maintain its natural shape.

Nature Essay in 250 words

Nature is the most precious and valuable gift to us from the God to live our life here on the earth. Nature makes our life easy by providing all the required resources for daily living. We should thankful to our nature for helping, caring and nurturing us like a mother. We can enjoy the sweet sound and scenery of the nature if we peacefully sit in the early morning in the garden. Our nature is adorned with lots of scenic beauty which we can enjoy anytime. Earth has geographical beauty and known as the city of garden or heaven. But it is sad to say that such beautiful gifts of God are declining day by day due to the technological advancement and high level of ignorance of the human beings.

Nature is like our real mother which never harms us but always nourishes us. Walking in the lap of nature in the early morning makes us healthy and strong as well as keeps us away from many lethal diseases like diabetes, chronic heart diseases, high blood pressure, liver problem, digestive system ailments, infections, brain disease, etc. It is good for our health to hear the soft sound of the birds, rattle of the breeze, sound of running fresh air, sound of running water in the river, etc in the early morning. Most of the poets, writers and people used to of yoga and meditation are seen in the early morning in the garden to re-energize their body, mind and soul.

Nature Essay in 300 words

Nature is the most important and integral part of the lives of everyone. Everyone has been blessed with the true love of God in the form of beautiful nature. We should never miss the pleasure of enjoying the nature. Nature has been the most favourite topic of the works of many famous poets, writers, painters and artists. Nature is the beautiful creation of the God which he blessed to us as a precious gift. Nature is everything which surrounds us like water, air, land, sky, fire, river, forests, animals, birds, plants, sun, moon, stars, sea, lake, rain, thunder, storm, etc. Nature is very colourful and has both living and non-living things in its lap.

Everything in the nature has their own power and uniqueness provided by the God. It has its many forms which are changing by season to season and even from minute to minute such as sea looks bright blue in the morning but by noon it looks emerald green colour. Sky changes its colour all through the day from pale pink at sunrise, dazzling blue in late morning, bright orange in evening at sunset and purple by twilight. Our mood also gets changed according to the nature such as happy and hopeful at sun shine, rainy season and spring season. We feel heartily happy at moonlight and little bored and tired in high sun light.

Nature has some powerful transformative power which changes our mood and behaviour accordingly. Nature has power to recover the patients from their diseases if they are provided with the required and pleasant environment. Nature is very essential for our healthy life so we should keep it clean and conserve it for our future generations. We should cut trees and forests, should not despoil the ocean, rivers, should not make hole in ozone layer, should not increase green house effect, global warming and many more through our selfish activities. We should get fully aware about our nature and try our best to keep it natural so that it can nourish life on the earth forever.

Nature Essay in 400 words

Nature is the natural environment which surrounds us, cares us and nourishes us every moment. It provides us a protective layer around us to prevent from the damages. We are not able to survive on the earth without nature like air, land, water, fire and sky. Nature includes everything around us like plants, animals, river, forests, rain, lake, birds, sea, thunder, sun, moon, weather, atmosphere, mountain, desserts, hills, ice, etc. Every form of nature is very powerful which has ability to nourish as well as destroy us.

Now a day, everyone has less time to enjoy nature. In the increasing crowd we forgot to enjoy nature and improve health. We started using technological instruments for our health fitness. However it is very true that nature has power to nourish us and fit us forever. Most of the writers have described the real beauty and advantage of the nature in their writings. Nature has ability to make our mind tension free and cure our diseases. Because of technological advancement in the life of human being, our nature is declining gradually which needs a high level of awareness to keep it in balance and to conserve natural assets.

God has created everything very beautifully seeing which our eyes can never be tired. But we forgot that we too have some responsibility towards our nature to relationship between nature and human beings. How beautiful scenery it looks in morning with sunrise, songs of birds, sounds of lakes, rivers, air and happy gatherings of friends in the evening in garden after a long day of crush. But we forgot to enjoy the beauty of the nature in just fulfilling our duties towards our families.

Sometimes during our holidays we spend our whole day by watching TV, reading news paper, playing indoor games or on the computer but we forgot that outside the door we can do something interesting in the lap of nature ad natural environment. Unnecessarily we left on all the lights of home, we use electricity without need which ultimately increases the heat in the environment called global warming. Our other activities like cutting trees and forests increase the amount of CO2 gas in the environment causing green house effect and global warming.

If we want to be happy and healthy always we should try our best to save our planet and its beautiful nature by stopping our foolish and selfish activities. In order to keep ecosystem in balance we should not cut trees, forests, practice energy and water conservation and many more. Ultimately we are the real user of the nature so we should really take care of it.

Essay on Nature FAQs

What is the nature essay.

A nature essay is a written piece about the natural world, often describing its beauty and significance.

What is nature in simple English?

Nature, in simple terms, refers to the outdoors, including plants, animals, and the environment around us.

What is nature 5 points?

Nature comprises trees, rivers, animals, mountains, and the sky. It's where we find beauty and life.

What is the beauty of nature?

The beauty of nature is seen in its landscapes, from colorful sunrises to lush forests, evoking awe and serenity.

What can I write about the beauty of nature?

You can write about breathtaking sunrises, calming lakes, diverse wildlife, and the peace nature brings.

How do you describe a nature walk?

A nature walk is a leisurely stroll in the outdoors, appreciating the scenery and observing plants and animals.

What is the purpose of a nature walk?

The purpose of a nature walk is to connect with nature, enjoy its tranquility, and learn about the environment.

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Marilyn Price-Mitchell's Essay 'Does Nature Make Us Happy?'

The nature principle by richard louv.

In his book, The Nature Principle, Richard Louv talks about how nature is a natural resource to many of the problems we as humans are facing today, if we would just go outside and take advantage of it. Louv talks about how we (as American’s) have increased our use of technology vastly in the last ten years. While this is not comply bad, it does have negative effects on our physical, emotional and spiritual being if not kept in check. Louv goes on to share that, “the more high tech we become, the more nature we need” (Louv, 2011). Think about a time you have sat in your office for hours on end, working on your computer, at last lunch time came and you went outside for just five minutes because you forgot something in your car. In just those few minutes of going outside, you might have noticed a slight increase in your happiness level. Can you then venture to understand how this could be applied to children, or even increased with taking more time to enjoy nature? Richard Louv challenges his readers to not only be in nature, but to live with nature (Louv, 2011) .

Maxine Hong Kingston's A City Person Encountering Nature

While reading different essays addressing the topic of nature, I came to the conclusion that they all shared the idea that being outside can make an impact in everyone no matter if you believe you only belong in a city or forest because it can bring you serenity and show you all the amazing things you wouldn't be able to see anywhere else. In Wendell Berry’s essay “An Entrance to the Woods,” he states that people can use the quiet of the woods to forget all their problems. Berry wrote “One is that, though I am here in body, my mind and my nerves too are not yet altogether here. We seem to grant to our high-speed roads and our airlines the rather thoughtless assumption that people can change places as rapidly as their bodies can be transported.” Nature has a way to transport ones mind and spirit elsewhere while the body is left behind on earth as we travel deep into thought. Adding on to that idea, the essay “A City Person Encountering Nature” by Maxine Hong Kingston the author explains that nature is a giver of peace and patience with its slow cycles that may frustrate people, but help keep a sane mind. Society is fast paced, making everyone feel that they need to keep the same pace in order to get things done, but we don't realize that although our bodies are moving and pushing, our minds are exhausted and cannot keep up with the fast pace. Kingston wrote “Preferring the city myself, I can better discern natural phenomena when books point them out; I also need to verify

Frankenstein Ch 1-10 Quote Analysis

“No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence. We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights which we enjoyed. When I mingled with other families I distinctly discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude assisted the development of filial love.”

Her First Elk Analysis

Humans often find bliss in nature, as it can be a place of comfort for many. On the other hand, nature is also a place where we go to test our strength, and learn life lessons. By getting out there and letting the trials of mother nature challenge us, valuable encounters and experiences build our character in a positive way. Humans crave adventure. With nature’s resources, the glorified idea of adventure becomes a reality.

Nature Rhetorical Analysis

He personifies nature as a human being by giving him the ability to hug and give warmth to others. He also says that people should have no worries in him because the beauty of nature is not the temporary happiness of sadness that life brings you, but the ability to breathe in air. The ability to stand up and walk. Nature has the ability to bring the best out of the worst. The narrator also says that people can truly see nature when they are isolated from society due to the fact that they can think take their time to analyze

The Land Ethic By Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold laid the foundation for environmental awareness decades ahead of a “ecological conscience” (257). There have many pleas to reconnect humanity with nature since the release of Leopold’s cherished book. Intuition and reason tell us that living in harmony with our world is more than idealistic—the future of our planet depends on it. The desire for harmony is not new one. Humans have long time sought to live in peace. It is genuine feelings of love and

Ralph Waldo Emerson's Response To The Beauty Of Nature : The Means Of Life?

Nature is the accessible feature that brings an individual back to his center of life.

Death at Devils Bridge by Cynthia DeFelice

The outdoors is hidden to many people around the world. All many see is the huge skyscrapers and whitewash walls of the cities. These people don’t tend to be as happy because there isn’t a stress reliever, or a place to get away to. They need this place so that they can have some time to just relax, learn, and develop true happiness. The outdoors is an escape for those who know it and are available to experience it on a regular basis. These places can be the Great Redwood Forests and Lake Almanor in California, to Canada’s vast river and lake systems, to the fields of Kansas, and the mountains of New Zealand. All of these places have one thing in common, the freedom to live. So many city dwellers don’t get to experience these things, which rural people hold to so dearly. The constant hustle and bustle of the city tends to keep people from their happiness. The stress of city life has a way to go “out the window” when you spend time outside with yourself and nature. The ones who can experience the life in the

Richard Louv Rhetorical Questions

Since the beginning of time, mankind has depended on nature for survival. Although, throughout the years society has learned to manipulate nature for their own selfish advantages. In the passage written by Richard Louv, he utilizes rhetorical questions, repetition, and a tone of nostalgia to stress that sad truth about the separation of mankind and nature.

Transcendentalist Legacy

A question I have for you is how you do see humans in relations to Nature? Nature is a vague term, and the way you emphasize people to embrace its simplicity implies humans were apart from Nature to begin with. This inherently

Personal Narrative: The Appalachian Trail

Humans are animals. Even as developed, personalized, and intelligent as we are, we share a deep connection with every living thing. However, many of the problems in the world result from the human belief that technology is more powerful and can replace the serene, perfect essence of nature. I believe that a connection with nature can heal wounds and help humans find balance in their lives.

Human Nature Relationship

Throughout today’s society there are several different cultural perspectives which form theoretical and practical understandings of natural environments, creating various human-nature relationship types. In this essay, I will describe and evaluate different ways of knowing nature and the impact of these views on human-nature relationships. From this, I will then explore my own human-nature relationship and reflect on how my personal experiences, beliefs and values has led me to this view, whilst highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each and reflecting upon Martin’s (1996) continuum.

Persuasive Speech : Why We Should Spend More Time Outdoors

The beautiful blossoms that bloom in Californian spring, the summer daisies alongside the cooling lake, long after the summer the trees have lost their leaves entering autumn to fresh white snow out in the mountains. Nature is able to show us its true beauty without any falseness and modifications. After all, is it not ironic how people go to museums to look at paintings of colorful flowers, green hills, and clear water streams; those are beauties that can easily be observed in real life outside of the urban environment which are surrounded by them, or how people buy recordings of the calming sounds of nature, similar to what you would listen to at night in the woods or smell nature aromas of the candles. What we are doing is trying to mislead our minds and pretend to think that we are in the woods but are instead cornered inside our small, well-furnished, and full -with-technology apartment.

Essay on Nature in American Literature

In American Literature many authors write about nature and how nature affects man's lives. In life, nature is an important part of people. Many people live, work, or partake in revelry in nature. Nature has received attention from authors spanning several centuries. Their attitudes vary over time and also reflect the different outlooks of the authors who chose to discuss this important historical movement. A further examination of this movement, reveals prevalence of nature's influence on man and how it affects their lives.

Eco Existential Positive Psychology : Experiences, Nature, Existential Anxieties, And Well Being Essay

a. “Experiences in nature can result in a direct increase of various forms of happiness or well-being, in addition to increasing well-being via satisfaction of basic psychological needs” (p. 374).

  • Natural environment


Essay on Things That Make Me Happy

Students are often asked to write an essay on Things That Make Me Happy in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look

100 Words Essay on Things That Make Me Happy


Happiness is a feeling that everyone enjoys. It comes from different things for different people. For me, there are many things that make me happy. They range from simple pleasures to cherished moments with loved ones.

Family Time

Spending time with my family is one of the things that makes me very happy. Whether it’s a simple dinner, a movie night, or a family trip, these moments are precious to me. I love the laughter, stories, and love that we share.

Reading Books

Reading books is another thing that brings me joy. Books take me to different worlds and let me live different lives. The thrill of a good story always makes me happy.

Helping Others

Helping others is something that gives me great joy. Seeing the smile on someone’s face when I help them is priceless. It makes me feel good about myself and brings me happiness.

In conclusion, many things make me happy. They may seem simple, but they fill my heart with joy. Remember, it’s the small things in life that often bring the most happiness.

250 Words Essay on Things That Make Me Happy

Happiness is a feeling that everyone cherishes. Each person has different things that make them happy. I also have a list of things that bring a smile to my face and fill my heart with joy.

The first thing that makes me happy is my family. Their love and support give me strength. We share laughter, stories, and meals together. These moments are very special to me.

My friends are another source of my happiness. We play, study, and share secrets together. Their company brings me immense joy. They are always there for me, in good times and bad, which makes me feel loved and valued.

Reading books is another thing that makes me happy. Books take me to different worlds and time periods. I learn about new things, people, and places. This knowledge and the journey of imagination that books provide make me very happy.

Music is like magic to me. It can change my mood in an instant. When I listen to my favorite songs, I feel a sense of joy that is hard to explain. It’s like the music speaks to my soul and makes me feel at peace.

In conclusion, happiness comes from simple things in life. For me, it’s my family, friends, books, and music that bring me the most joy. These things make my life beautiful and worth living. Remember, it’s the little things that often bring the greatest happiness.

500 Words Essay on Things That Make Me Happy

Happiness is a feeling that everyone cherishes. It is like a warm bubble of joy that fills our hearts and makes us smile. What makes me happy might be different from what makes you happy because happiness is personal. For me, there are many things that bring happiness. Some of these things are simple, while others are more complex.

Spending Time with Family and Friends

One of the main things that make me happy is spending time with my family and friends. Whether we are laughing, talking, or just being together, these moments bring me great joy. I feel loved and cared for when I am with them. They understand me and accept me just as I am. This feeling of love and acceptance is a big source of happiness for me.

Another thing that makes me happy is reading books. Books take me to different worlds and let me live many lives. They teach me new things and help me see the world from different points of view. When I read a good book, I feel a kind of joy that is hard to describe. It’s like finding a new friend who understands you and shares your thoughts.

Playing Sports

Playing sports is another thing that makes me happy. When I play sports, I feel alive and full of energy. I love the feeling of running fast, the thrill of scoring a goal, and the joy of being part of a team. Sports help me stay fit and healthy, which also makes me feel good about myself.

Helping others also brings me happiness. When I help someone, I feel a sense of satisfaction that is very rewarding. It makes me feel good to know that I have made a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small. This feeling of making a positive impact gives me a deep sense of happiness.

Nature’s Beauty

Finally, the beauty of nature makes me happy. I love watching the sunrise, the birds flying in the sky, and the flowers blooming in the garden. These simple things fill me with a sense of wonder and joy. They remind me of the beauty in the world and make me feel happy and peaceful.

In conclusion, many things make me happy. Spending time with family and friends, reading books, playing sports, helping others, and enjoying nature’s beauty are just a few of them. These things bring me joy and make my life more meaningful. They remind me of the good things in life and help me stay positive and happy. Everyone has different things that make them happy. The key is to find what makes you happy and make time for it in your life. After all, happiness is not something we find, but something we create.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

  • Essay on Things I Would Like To Change About Myself
  • Essay on Things I Love About Myself
  • Essay on Things I Like To Do

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How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?

More info on this topic

hands planting

The stress of an unpleasant environment can cause you to feel anxious, or sad, or helpless. This in turn elevates your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension and suppresses your immune system. A pleasing environment reverses that.

And regardless of age or culture, humans find nature pleasing. In one study cited in the book Healing Gardens, researchers found that more than two-thirds of people choose a natural setting to retreat to when stressed.   

Nature heals

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.

Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

Nature soothes

Beautiful tree in meadow.

In addition, nature helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.

This is nicely demonstrated in a now classic study of patients who underwent gallbladder surgery; half had a view of trees and half had a view of a wall. According to the physician who conducted the study, Robert Ulrich, the patients with the view of trees tolerated pain better, appeared to nurses to have fewer negative effects, and spent less time in a hospital. More recent studies have shown similar results with scenes from nature and plants in hospital rooms . 

Nature restores

One of the most intriguing areas of current research is the impact of nature on general wellbeing. In one study in Mind , 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced . Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood , and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.

Furthermore, time in nature or viewing nature scenes increases our ability to pay attention. Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.

In another interesting area, Andrea Taylor’s research on children with ADHD shows that time spent in nature increases their attention span later.   

girl hiking

Real-life examples of people helped by nature

Nature helped Cheryl, Terry, and James recover from depression and stress and get a new perspective on their lives.

Real-Life Examples of People Helped by Nature

Smiling young woman hiking.

After months fruitlessly searching for a job after graduation, Cheryl was losing confidence in herself. Seeing she was depressed, her parents gifted her with two weeks of wilderness training. Cheryl returned a new person.

Of her experience, she said, “I learned the depth of my strength and how much I could accomplish. My courage surprised me
Being surrounded by nature reminded me to keep the Big Picture in mind not only during my wilderness experience, but also when I returned home. Life is in front of me and I have lots of options.”

Depressed man sitting by lake.

It was winter, and Terry noticed the way the wind slapped him in the face when he got out of his truck. Snow covered the flat land as far as the horizon line. Terry’s boots sank into the snow as he walked. He settled beside a frozen pond and noticed that the sensory input from his surroundings—the frigid wind, the blinding snow—had distracted him from his own depressed mental chatter.

Sitting next to the pond, he began to think about what lay underneath the ice. The fish and frogs and larvae that normally thrived under the water were all sleeping, he realized. As the snow began to fall on his own body, he realized that he was not separate from the sleeping animals and organisms below the surface of the pond. “I realized that my depression is like the snow,” he said. “It covers everything in me, and it’s like my heart has gone to sleep
but I’m not dead inside. I’m resting.”

Middle-aged man hiking.

James was awed by the natural display of the trees and the quiet hum of wildlife along the hiking trails. The group gradually began jogging and rock climbing. Within a few months, James’s blood pressure had decreased, he had lost several pounds, and he had more energy. “Just by spending time outdoors each week I felt rejuvenated and relaxed when I came into the office on Monday,” he said.

Stories adapted from The Healing Earth and Nature-Guided Therapy.

Nature connects

According to a series of field studies conducted by Kuo and Coley at the Human-Environment Research Lab, time spent in nature connects us to each other and the larger world. Another study at the University of Illinois suggests that residents in Chicago public housing who had trees and green space around their building reported knowing more people, having stronger feelings of unity with neighbors, being more concerned with helping and supporting each other , and having stronger feelings of belonging than tenants in buildings without trees. In addition to this greater sense of community, they had a reduced risk of street crime, lower levels of violence and aggression between domestic partners, and a better capacity to cope with life’s demands, especially the stresses of living in poverty.

This experience of connection may be explained by studies that used fMRI to measure brain activity.  When participants viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up, but when they viewed urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were activated. It appears as though nature inspires feelings that connect us to each other and our environment.

Too much time in front of screens is deadly

“Nature deprivation,” a lack of time in the natural world, largely due to hours spent in front of TV or computer screens, has been associated, unsurprisingly, with depression. More unexpected are studies by Weinstein and others that associate screen time with loss of empathy and lack of altruism. 

And the risks are even higher than depression and isolation. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology , time in front of a screen was associated with a higher risk of death, and that was independent of physical activity!   

Kelly McGonigal

Breaking an addiction to technology

Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct , shares tips for breaking an addiction to texting, emailing, and social media.

Limit your children's screen time

The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting children's exposure to screens—including computers, televison, hand-held devices, and video games—to two hours per day. More than that can have serious consequences, including obesity, behavioral problems, irregular sleep, violent tendencies, poor academic performance, and dampened creativity.

Instead, encourage your child to engage with nature, whether that's playing an outdoor sport, reading next to a window, or taking a walk around the block.

Picture of person with a backpack and hoodie from the back facing a lake and trees

Learn more in this webinar

In this free webinar, Dr. Jean Larson, director of nature-based therapeutics at the Bakken Center and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, introduces the rationale, evidence, and benefits of Nature-Based Therapeutics and explains the critical role of nature in self-care, community-building, and planetary health.

Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological Science, 19 (12), 1207-1212.

Bowler, D. E., Buyung-Ali, L. M., Knight, T. M., & Pullin, A. S. (2010). A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health, 10 , 456.

Bringslimark, T., Patil, G., & Hartig, T. (2008). The Association Between Indoor Plants, Stress, Productivity And Sick Leave In Office Workers. Acta Horticulturae, 775 , 117.

Cervinka, R., Röderer, K., & Hefler, E. (2012). Are nature lovers happy? On various indicators of well-being and connectedness with nature. Journal of Health Psychology, 17 (3), 379-388.

Coley, R., Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (1997). Where does community grow? The social context created by nature in urban public housing. Environment and Behavior, 29 (4), 468.

Devries, S. (2003). Natural environments -- healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between greenspace and health. Environment and Planning, 35 (10), 1717.

Diette, G. B., Lechtzin, N., Haponik, E., Devrotes, A., & Rubin, H. R. (2003). Distraction therapy with nature sights and sounds reduces pain during flexible bronchoscopy: A complementary approach to routine analgesia. Chest, 123 (3), 941-948.

Dijkstra, K., Pieterse, M., & Pruyn, A. (2006). Physical environmental stimuli that turn healthcare facilities into healing environments through psychologically mediated effects: Systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 56 (2), 166-181.

Hartig, T. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior, 23 , 3.

Hu, Z. (2008). Linking stroke mortality with air pollution, income, and greenness in northwest florida: An ecological geographical study. International Journal of Health Geographics, 7 , 1.

Kim, T. (2010). Human brain activation in response to visual stimulation with rural and urban scenery pictures: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study Science of the Total Environment, 408 (12), 2600.

Kuo, F. (2001). Aggression and violence in the inner city: Effects of environment via mental fatigue. Environment and Behavior, 33 (4), 543.

Largo-Wight, E., Chen, W. W., Dodd, V., & Weiler, R. (2011). Healthy workplaces: The effects of nature contact at work on employee stress and health. Public Health Reports (Washington, D.C.: 1974), 126 Suppl 1 , 124-130.

Lohr, V. (2007). Benefits of nature: What we are learning about why people respond to nature. J. Physiol Anthropol: 26(2), 83.

Marcus, C., & Barnes, M. (eds). (1999). Healing gardens ( Trans.). New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.

Mind Organization. (2007). Ecotherapy: The green agenda for mental health . UK: Mind Publications.

Mitchell, R., & Popham, F. (2008). Effect of exposure to natural environment on health inequalities: An observational population study. Lancet, 372 (9650), 1655-1660.

Morrison, C., & Gore, H. (2010). Relationship between excessive internet use and depression: A questionnaire-based study of 1,319 young people and adults. Psychopathology, 43 (2), 121-126.

Park, S., & Mattson, R. (2009). Ornamental indoor plants in hospital rooms enhanced health outcomes of patients recovering from surgery. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 15 (9), 975-980.

Raudenbush, B, et al. (2001). Enhancing athletic performance through the administration of peppermint odor. J Sport Exerc Psychol; 23 :156–60.

Stamatakis, E. (2011). Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: Population-based study with ongoing mortality and hospital events follow-up. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 57 (3), 292-299.

Selub, E., Logan, A. (2012).  Your brain on nature. Mississauga, Ontario: Wiley.

Shepley, M.  Gerbi, R., Watson, A. Imgrund, S.  Patient and staff environments: The impact of daylight and windows on ICU patients and staff .  World Health Design .  Accessed May 11, 2013 at http://www.worldhealthdesign.com/Patient-and-staff-environments.aspx

Taylor, A., Kuo, F.  (2008). Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park. Journal of Attention Disorders; 12 (5), 402-09.

Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science, 224 (4647), 420-421.

Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E., Miles, M. A., & Zelson, M. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 11 (3), 201-230.

Weinstein, N. (2009). Can nature make us more caring? Effects of immersion in nature on intrinsic aspirations and generosity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35 , 1315.

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The Most Dangerous Cartels To Ever Exist

El Chapo in custody in 2014

Cartels have dominated the international drugs trade since the 1980s, earning many billions of dollars and killing tens of thousands of people in Mexico and Colombia alone (via Al Jazeera and Britannica ).

Britannica  writer Richard J. Samuels defines cartels as, "An illicit consortium of independent organizations formed to limit competition and control the production and distribution of illegal drugs," adding that cartels are, "extremely well-organized, well-financed, efficient, and ruthless." Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice  defines cartels as, "large, highly sophisticated organizations composed of multiple drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and cells with specific assignments such as drug transportation, security/enforcement, or money laundering."

However, despite the logistical sophistication and the massive financial success, the history of cartels is fraught with betrayal, splinter groups, and brutally shortened lives. And these lives are often innocent civilians caught up in the dreadful violence and corruption, such as the shootout in Tulum, which killed two tourists and injured three more, according to  The Guardian . According to reports in the BBC and Insight Crime , the latest cartel trend is the fragmentation of the drug trafficking landscape, especially in Mexico. This has led to savage fighting between some 400 splinter gangs, each killing and maiming for scraps of territory (via Business Insider ). Consequently, several Mexican cities — such as Los Cabos, Tijuana, and Acapulco — have recorded some of the highest murder rates in the world, according to  Statista . With that grim context in mind, here are the most dangerous cartels to ever exist.

Los Zetas is a powerful Mexican drug cartel that has made special use of fear to achieve its business goals. Rather than prioritizing corruption like its competitors, Los Zetas has preferred to use paramilitary violence to seize territory and intimidate rivals, according to  Insight Crime . Los Zetas was formed in 1997 to serve as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel. Initially, the group was led by Osiel Cårdenas Guillén, who recruited around 30 alumni from Mexico's special forces. During their enforcer period, the  US Drug Enforcement Agency  (DEA) described Los Zetas as perhaps "the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and violent of these paramilitary enforcement groups."

In 2010, Los Zetas established itself on its own terms, terrorizing the country with torture, beheadings and massacres (via Irish Times / Britannica ). In this pivotal year, Zetas occupied territory in 405 Mexican municipalities, which Insight Crime found was more than double that of their biggest rivals. As the cartel made connections across Mexico and the world, their death toll increased exponentially. In August 2010, Zetas executed 72 migrants in Tamaulipas, which was followed by 2011 attacks in San Fernando and a Monterrey casino, killing a combined 245 people. Months after the casino attack, 49 decapitated bodies were dumped on a Monterrey highway (via Insight Crime / The World ).

However, despite their swift and brutal success, Insight Crime reports that Los Zetas has experienced fragmentation since 2012, especially when the Trevino brothers fell out and split the group into rival clans, the Northeast Cartel and the Zetas Old School.

Sinaloa Cartel

Based in northwest Mexico's Sinaloa state, the Sinaloa Cartel is widely considered to be the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere, according to Insight Crime . The cartel can trace its roots to the 1960s and '70s, when farming families entered the marijuana business. Among these provincial traders and smugglers was Joaquín Guzmån Loera, better known as "El Chapo."

During the late '70s and 1980s, the Sinaloa Cartel worked with the Medellin cartel , establishing lucrative cocaine routes to the United States that spanned land, sea and air. After the group's 1985 murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena, the US and Mexico closed in on the cartel, causing several leaders to disperse across Mexico, leaving El Chapo and his partner Héctor Luis Palma Salazar as the Sinaloa chiefs.

In the early 1990s, El Chapo steered the Sinaloa Cartel to dominance through his use of tunnel smuggling and widespread bribes. He also won territory from the Tijuana and Juarez cartels during the Mexican government's war on drugs, which brought new levels of violence to the region (via Britannica ). In 2018, analyst  Parker Asmann dubbed the Sinaloa Cartel "Mexico's top crime group," despite El Chapo's arrest, trial and eventual detention in the United States. However, Insight Crime suggests that the large traditional cartels may be over as Mexico's criminal underworld becomes increasingly fragmented and scattershot.

Jalisco New Generation (CJNG)

Jalisco New Generation, often referred to as CJNG, is another Mexican cartel that emerged in 2010. The CJNG split from the Sinaloa Cartel after the killing of Ignacio Coronel, a capo whose death caused a power vacuum (via Insight Crime ). Based in the western state of Jalisco, CJNG was founded by Nemesio Oseguera Ramos, whose ongoing leadership has placed him on Mexican and American most wanted lists, both of which offer millions of dollars for information. 

Like Los Zetas, their bitter rivals, CJNG is known for terrible violence. In April 2015, the group killed 15 police officers just weeks after killing five federal officers, which involved the use of machine guns and grenade launchers. Then, in May, SinEmbargo reported that the cartel had destroyed a military helicopter with an RPG, killing 5 soldiers. CJNG's battles with the Los Zetas and CRSL cartels are similarly brutal. In April 2019, CJNG killed 14 people in Minatitlan, a Zetas territory. CJNG have also committed several assassinations, including the June 2020 murder of Jalisco judge Uriel Villegas Ortiz and his wife Verónica, who were shot some 20 times, according to a El Pais report. In the same month, heavily armed gunmen fired upon Omar Garcia Harfuch, Mexico City's public security secretary, injuring him and killing two bodyguards and a passerby (via Insight Crime ).

Unlike some of its fragmenting rivals, CJNG's power is forecast to grow despite government pressure on their front companies and bank accounts. 

Medellin cartel

By the early 1990s, Medellin was the most violent city not just in Colombia but the entire world, and much of that was because of the Medellin cartel's war with the government (via Rapid Transition ). Led by the infamous Pablo Escobar , the Medellin cartel is said to have killed thousands of people, including three Colombian presidential candidates, many judges and over 1,000 police officers (via Biography ).

From the mid-1980s to his death in 1993, Pablo Escobar was the "King of Cocaine," earning an estimated $420 million a week, according to Insider . His evil career was so incredibly successful that he made Forbes' billionaire list from 1987 to 1993. Few rivals could hope of matching Escobar as his cartel controlled 80% of the cocaine trade, which involved daily 15-ton shipments to the United States, as detailed in Escobar's  Insight Crime  biography.  The Times wrote how Escobar had always dreamed of being the President of Colombia, and this ambition showed in his twisted flair for governance. During his peak in the mid-1980s, Escobar established a debt collection service called " Oficina de Envigado ," which was based in the town hall of Envigado. The office's purpose was to collect debts from Escobar's extensive trafficking network. If a debtor refused, Escobar deployed his team of lethal "sicarios."

Escobar's luck ran out on December 2, 1993, when he was gunned down as part of a joint U.S.-Colombia effort. With the Medellin leader gone, Insider noted how the rival Cali cartel took the reins of Colombia's booming cocaine industry.

Gulf Cartel

The Gulf cartel is among the oldest cartels in Mexico and has held varying degrees of power since its origins in 1984, according to  Insight Crime . The Gulf's cocaine business started when they brokered a deal with the Cali cartel, which was looking for new routes from Colombia to the United States.  The two cartels enjoyed over a decade of business until the late 1990s, when the Gulf cartel had become self-sufficient. It was around this time that the group established the aforementioned Los Zetas, a paramilitary force that brought a new organized violence to the international drug trade. The eventual split between the groups was described by the  Congressional Research Service  as "most violent in the history of organized crime in Mexico."

The Gulf cartel's control in the northeast state of Tamaulipas has seen many violent incidents, both against rivals and each other. In June 2021, The Independent reported infighting between Gulf factions the Metros, the Scorpions and the Cyclones resulted in 19 deaths, 15 of them innocent civilians. State prosecutor Irving Barrios said, "They came firing left and right ... They robbed stores, they broke into an auto repair shop and stole cell phones and several vehicles, all with the goal of spreading terror."

While the Gulf cartel remains a danger to society, their influence has been diminished by Los Zetas, their wayward spawn. However, the Gulf remains entrenched in their Tamaulipas stronghold, which provides steady revenue from narcotics and migrant smuggling (via Insight Crime ).

Juarez Cartel

The Juarez cartel is another relatively old organization dating back to the early 1980s (via Insight Crime ). A rival of the Sinaloa cartel, the Juarez group has been responsible for thousands of murders across its territory, which included 21 states at the height of its power. The cartel's influence has declined like many of its fragmenting peers, but their power remains strong in Ciudad Juårez and the Valle de Juårez, which are key trafficking locations.

Violence committed by the Juarez cartel is rife, especially from its La Linea faction, which has fighting the Sinaloa in Chihuahua City, contributing many deaths to the city's high 2020 murder rate (via FOX59 ). This gang violence occurs in their stronghold of Ciudad Juårez, where 1,200 people were murdered in 2018. Perhaps the most heinous La Linea crime occurred in Bavispe, where the group attacked a Mormon family in November 2019, killing nine people including several children, according to ABC .

The Juarez cartel's expansionist ambitions have been quelled in recent years, but they retain a strong grasp on their part of the US-Mexico border, which should maintain their threat to the region for some time.

Cali Cartel

In the 1990s, the aforementioned Cali cartel took the mantle from their Medellin rivals, becoming the most powerful cartel in the world. Founded by the Orejuela brothers, the Cali cartel earned billions a year, inheriting the Medellin cartel's 80% market share and multi-ton shipments to the United States (via Seattle Times / Insider ).

However, PBS wrote that the Cali cartel did not inherit Escobar's public flair for violence, preferring to adopt a business façade in their international operation. Writing for the Los Angeles Times , William R. Long dubbed the Cali cartel as "Colombia's Gentlemen Cocaine Traffickers." Yet the Cali cartel was still a powerful drug cartel that used violence if it had to, especially during its conflict with the Medellin cartel, which took many lives on both sides. In fact, CNN  reported that Cali mobsters even invested in four 500-pound bombs, which they intended to somehow drop on Pablo Escobar. Locals also reported of the many corpses found in the Cauca River, which runs through Cali. The LA Times found that from January 1988 to November 1991, drug traffickers killed up to 219 people in this area, disposing of their bodies in rivers. One official said, "The valley is the most dangerous region in Colombia in terms of drug violence. In and around Cali ... if the mafia doesn't like you, you just disappear."

In 2014, years after the conviction of the Orejuela brothers, the US government declared that the Cali cartel was no longer a threat, lifting sanctions that had been imposed by the Clinton administration in 1995 (via ABC news/ Insight Crime ).

Tijuana drug cartel

According to World Atlas , Tijuana had the highest homicide rate in the world in 2020, with 138 murder per 100,000 residents. A significant part of this bloodshed is caused by the Tijuana cartel, which is in constant conflict with the Sinaloa cartel. Their vicious feud affects ordinary people, too, such as Juan Manuel Delgado Cårdenas, a 23-year-old student who was murdered for refusing to cook synthetic drugs (via Mexico News Daily ).

This savagery is nothing new. In 1997, PBS described the Tijuana drug cartel as "one of the most powerful and aggressive drug trafficking organizations operating from Mexico," adding that it is "undeniably the most violent." Insight Crime catalogued the numerous violent acts of this period, including the cartel's failed assassination of Joaquin " El Chapo " Guzman in 1993, which went awry when the gunmen erroneously targeted the car of a Catholic cardinal, shooting him to death.

The violence has ebbed and flowed since that decade, including a shootout with Mexican police in 2008 which led to the arrest of Eduardo Arellano Felix (via Reuters ). However, according to Insight Crime's profile, the cartel's influence has been compromised by arrests and infighting, limiting their territory to Tijuana, a vital smuggling city on the US-Mexico border.

BeltrĂĄn-Leyva Organization

Led by the Beltran Leyva brothers Marcos Arturo, Carlos, Alfredo, and Héctor, the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) was a vicious drug cartel in the Mexican state of Sinaloa (via Insight Crime / Wilson Center ). Originally a security detail for the Sinaloa cartel, BLO seceded in 2008 and a fierce conflict ensued. 

Among the first deaths in the conflict was Edgar Guzman, El Chapo's son. Alliances were formed on both sides, with the BLO allying with Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel working with the Gulf and Familia Michoacana cartels (via Insight Crime ). Gradually, the BLO began to weaken in this battle of attrition, losing many members to jail or death. Then, in December 2009, Arturo BeltrĂĄn Leyva was killed by Mexican marines.

Since then, BLO members have either been killed, jailed or defected to new splinter groups, such as the Guerreros Unidos and Los Rojos , which dabble in extortion, kidnapping and lethal violence. Insight Crime and the BBC reported that these splinter groups are suspected to have abducted 43 Ayotzinapa students, which hit international headlines in 2014. However, despite these smaller groups' threat to the Guerrero and Morelos  states, the Beltrån-Leyva Organization is merely a trace of its former self.

La Familia Michoacana

Based in the western state of Michoacån, La Familia Michoacana is known for its history of violence as well as its quasi-religious trappings (via Insight Crime ). Its origins are traced to El Milenio, a group that was allied to the Tijuana cartel. However, in the late 1990s/early 2000s, a set of El Milenio lieutenants rebelled and created their own cartel.  The fledgling cartel were trained by members of Los Zetas, yet they would turn on their mentors because of local resentment to Zetas' methamphetamine business. As La Familia Michoacana expelled Los Zetas, they took territory across Guerrero, Morelos, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Jalisco and Mexico City.

With their archenemy established, La Familia Michoacana set out to publicize themselves. In 2006, several La Familia hit men, who said they had a "divine right" to kill, dumped five severed heads on a dance floor, yet this didn't alienate them in the public eye (via Insider / Insight Crime ). This is because La Familia styled itself as the people's cartel by performing social work and employing civilians, which won both popularity and new recruits.

Much of the cartel's drugs trade depended on the Lazaro Cardenas port, an asset that La Familia killed some 1,500 people to protect. However, despite its success in cocaine and methamphetamine, La Familia Michoacana's power was curtailed by yet another splinter group, The Knights Templar. Then, in December 2015, Insider reported that La Familia founder Carlos Rosales Mendoza was found dead baring torture wounds. Today, the cartel retains a small presence in southern Mexico.



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