TIME Books

Why You Need to Hit the Beach Right. This. Second.

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4kodiak—Getty Images

There's some serious science behind water's ability to reduce stress, inspire creativity and promote empathy. How's that for a day in the sand?

What is it about water that pulls us, soothes us, inspires us and connects us?

During the decade I spent pursuing that simple question for my book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, I interviewed and met people around the world with a wide variety of relationships to water: surfers, swimmers, psychologists, artists, ocean managers, fishers, veterans, captains, floaters, neuroscientists, explorers, divers, inventors, educators, poets—and people with the surname Cousteau.

Being by the water can pull the stress from us, inspire creativity and draw us closer to those we love. Research shows that feeling of awe and wonder we get by the sea can also promote compassion and empathy.

Turns out there’s some serious science behind the Beach Boys’ famous lyric, “Catch a wave, and your sittin’ on top of the world.”

So dive in and rank how blue your mind is—or how beach deprived you might be this summer—with this quiz.

Wallace J. Nichols is the author of Blue Mind and a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. He has spent his life getting near, in, on, or under waters all over the world. He also loves sea turtles.

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