Are Landscapes You Love Coded in Your DNA?

Human beings vary in the environments they love. Sure, we are adaptable to live wherever we choose, but everyone has that one type of environment that makes their heart swell—a landscape that feels like home even if you’ve never been there before.

People vary widely in the environments that speak to them. My mom loves the mountains. My dad loves the beach. Others love lakes, while some prefer deserts. Forests or jungles.

Me, I love water. The ocean more than lakes, although I won’t say no to a beautiful lake view. Something about the scent in the air, the murmur of the waves, the breeze, just makes all my muscles relax and my cares slip away. Wild, stormy weather at the ocean is exhilarating!


There is no reason I should react this way—no episode in my past that would explain my affinity for the seaside environment. Sure, we spent a lot of summer vacations at the shore, but we spent vacations in the mountains, too. The eight months I spent living on Chincoteague Island were a little slice of heaven for me—the sea breeze always in my hair, and water only a few minutes in any direction.


I have a theory that our ancestry influences the type of natural environments we prefer. I know it probably sounds crazy, but with the new findings that your ancestors’ experiences can impact the way your DNA expresses itself today (epigenetics), maybe the idea that your ancestor’s countryside is embedded in our very cells is not so far-fetched after all.

Many of my ancestors are from the British Isles—Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland. Could explain the love of water and the ocean landscapes. And whenever I see photos from Scotland or Ireland, I could swear I have been there, even though I never have. Looking at those photos makes me say, “Ahh.”

Most of my ancestors came from the wild, stormy North Sea area. The photos of Durness and the surrounding area are the ones that speak to me the most—the landscapes that resonate in my DNA.

View out the backyard of the house

Have you ever responded strongly to a photo or landscape for no reason? Have you ever felt completely at home in a place you had never been?

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