Psychological Benefits of Fresh Flowers in Your Home

Happiness, Mind

One of my favourite pastimes is making flower arrangements. I can’t help but smile during any part of the process: purchasing, cutting, arranging, finding the perfect container, and either picking a place in my home to display them or giving them to someone else who might be in need of a smile. I love it all. I’m not a superb florist. I’ve never taken a class. It’s just really hard to make a bad flower arrangement. I’ve always known that there was something special about flowers. They make me smile. They make others smile. Now, with today’s research, their positive effects on a person’s psyche is a proven fact.

According to research conducted at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, fresh flowers can be a simple and natural way to improve emotional health.

“The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.” *

The 10-month study showed that flowers have a healthy and positive effect on a person’s mood. Participants from all age groups experienced instant feelings of happiness and gratitude upon receiving flowers. Participants also experienced long term positive effects, reporting less feelings of depression and anxiety and a higher sense of life satisfaction.

Another study conducted by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D. and Harvard Medical School, showed that people feel more compassionate towards others, less worried and anxious, and have less feelings of depression when fresh cut flowers are present in their home. Study participants who lived with fresh cut flowers for just a few days experienced more feelings of compassion and kindness for others and less negative feelings. They also experienced a boost of energy that lasted throughout their day, even having more enthusiasm and energy at work, just from having flowers in their home living environments. This positive energy can also spread to others.

“What I find interesting is that by starting the day in a more positive mood, you are likely to transfer those happier feelings to others – it’s what is called mood contagion.” ~ Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D.

Having fresh flowers in your home doesn’t have to be expensive, either. With a little research, you should be able to find the cheapest, best place to buy fresh cut flowers. I have a nearby Homeland Grocery Store that sells small bunches of flowers for $3 – $4. I normally buy two or three of these and have plenty of flowers to make one large arrangement or a couple of smaller ones. During summer and spring, I pick roses and lilies from our outdoor garden and make flower arrangements for free!

So, if you are looking for a simple, natural, inexpensive way to add a little joy to your home, try having some fun with flowers. Of course, they always make a great gift for someone that needs a smile. But they are also a great thing to do for yourself in your own home. And shouldn’t we all try to surround ourselves with things that make us smile? 🙂

 

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“Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy. Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well being.”~Dr. Haviland-Jones

*Quotes and information obtained from…

http://aboutflowers.com/health-benefits-a-research.html

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Live to Learn

Mind

I am a lifetime student. We all are.

I would have never thought that back when I was younger and was actually required to go to school. But when I started college years ago, I discovered that I really loved learning. I have a passion for subjects such as the psychological and biological sciences. I love to learn new art forms. I love physical classes such as yoga, aerobics, kickboxing, and dance. As an adult, I’ve taken cooking classes, guitar classes, painting classes, all types of yoga/pilates/aerobics classes. I took ballet for the first time at 19 years old when I enrolled in a beginning adult class. If there is an opportunity for me to show up some place and somebody teach me something, I am all about it.

Twice recently I have had the opportunity to learn new things (and also further my formal education) without any financial cost to me. With the assistance of a grant, I am back in college to finish a psychology degree I started years ago before I became a nurse. To fulfil a sociology requirement of said degree, I’m currently taking a Cultural Anthropology class. A required ethnography project sent me on a search that led me to a Buddhist monastery that has free mediation and Buddhism classes. So, one class that’s helping to further my formal academia, also helped to get me started in another class that’s teaching me about the wonderful practice of meditation and the history of Buddhism. One door opened to another door to another door. And I’m learning such fascinating things!

LEARNING IS SO GOOD FOR YOU IN SO MANY WAYS.

Learning experiences like learning a new language or skill have been proven to increase the size of the brain.

I think this is awesome! One study done by neuroscientist Arthur Kramer showed that just 45 minutes of brain exercise three days a week actually increased the volume of the brain. Brain exercise improves cognition so that one can better plan, multitask, and remember.

And formal education is not required to learn new things and exercise the brain.

You can watch a video to learn origami or teach yourself to sew. You can take up drawing or painting, all on your own. It is all still beneficial to the brain. I do believe, though, that the social interaction that comes from being in an actual classroom setting offers so many opportunities. To meet new people. To have different interactions. For a change of scenery. All of it.

So, if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn something new, or if you even have to go out and find those opportunities yourself… DO IT!! Learn to dance. Learn a new art. Further your formal academia. Learn a foreign language. Whatever sounds interesting and fun to you. It is so worth it. It is good for your brain, which is good for your life. And it could end up opening other doors you never even thought of.

“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”

~Descartes

Confessions of A Self-Help Addict

Mind

It’s official. I am a self-help book junkie. It’s kind of a difficult thing to admit because it sounds so cheesy. The stigmata that reading self-help books is a sign of weakness or for those with low self esteem may make it difficult to accept. I can’t help but envision the Saturday Night Live skit with Stuart Smalley telling himself in the mirror “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” But I can no longer deny my obsession.
I have always loved reading and psychology, so the jump to the self-help genre really wasn’t that much of a leap. I should have known when I instantly fell in love with such inspirational books as Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. While these are not quite self-help books, they made me think of life in a different way and see my pursuit of happiness as something that I should be more actively taking part in.

Then there was a book on meditation, and then another book, the Art of Happiness which was written jointly by psychiatrist Howard Cutler and the 14th Dalai Lama. Memoirs by other people pursuing their happiness and facing their demons such as The Last Lecture and The Glass Castle also helped to fuel my fire. I moved on to another book on pertaining to meditation, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. I’ve read The Secret and also Hero, both are by Rhonda Byrne and are part of her series of books that focus on positive thinking and the Law of Attraction. I discovered Deepak Chopra who has several books which also discuss the connection that exists between all things, the great impact of our thoughts on the exterior world, and therefore the importance of positive thinking. One of my most recent favorites is The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book really made me understand that if we truly love ourselves we will have a limitless well of love to share with others also. I just finished Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life by Debra Moffitt, and I am starting The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent by Esther and Jerry Hicks.
I think it’s quite obvious that I have an obsession.

I have accepted this fact, though. I am even proud of myself for taking an active part in finding my own peace and happiness by attempting to learn from others. We all have emotional wounds. We all have our own issues to work through. The very term “self-help” implies power and initiative; a person taking responsibility for their own life and happiness and attempting to help themselves. If any person expects to be happy it will take at least some, if not an immense amount, of conscious effort on that person’s part. They do not call it the “pursuit of happiness” because you do nothing and wait for it to happen to you.

I am an altogether inspiration addict. On days when I feel down and slow or just plain depressed, words of beauty and wisdom can touch my heart and remind me that life does not have to be as hard as I sometimes make it or perceive it to be. Simple poetic and philosophical quotes can serve as reminders of how strong and wonderful I am, and be sweet mantras to repeat in my mind as I breathe life into my body.

What effect have all these books and words of inspiration had on my life? Am I a living example of happiness and success? The changes have been monumental, but they are taking place on the inside, which is where all change has to start. I am writing more (alot more). I am healing wounds from years past. I am being better to my body. I am unapologetically making more time for myself and focusing on my health as a whole: mind, body, and spirit. I am more aware of my thoughts and what it is that I’m focusing my time and energy on. I am being more compassionate with myself and loving myself more. I am forgiving and accepting myself on a daily basis, which in turn makes it easier for me to do the same with others. So, I would definitely say that my obsession has atleast been beautifully fruitful.

I will continue along my journey, learning about life and myself and finding the beauty in all of it. I hope to inspire others to do the same. I will not give precedence to the view that attempting to learn about and heal oneself is an act of weakness. On the contrary, it is a great act of bravery. We will all have to heal our own wounds and learn to care for ourselves if we want to find our own peace and happiness.

Maybe someday I’ll even write my own self help-ish  book.

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“Give me love and nurture me today, and I may still be starving and dying tomorrow.

But teach me to love and truly care for myself, and I may flourish for a lifetime and beyond.”

~Sandra Lea

Letting Go of Fear and Worries

Happiness, Mind

The last few weeks have had the potential to be quite stressful. Family obligations, work, bills, kids. All that good stuff. There have been a few times when I felt the stress and worry creeping up on me. When there were issues arising that I ultimately had little or no control over, but that affected me and/or the ones I love. I found myself starting to get that feeling where my mind starts going through all the bad scenarios that could happen and my heart is wrenched in fear. Sometimes stress is good. The fight or flight instinct kicks in and motivates me to get things done. Sometimes, though, stress turns into useless fears and doubt that end up doing way more harm than good.

I’m getting better, though. I’m noticing it more when I start to feel this way. I’m being more gentle and compassionate with myself. I’m realizing that I can only control myself and not the exterior world. I can only do what I can do, and then leave the rest to God and the Universe. It does nothing good for me to worry. There is no reason to allow fear and stress to make me unhappy. That only takes away from life and makes situations worse.

In one particularly recent moment, there was an issue I was stressing about. I felt the stress, then worry, then fear leading up to freak-out mode. And then I caught myself. I spent some time doing the things I could do to help the situation, and then I went on. I stopped worrying and stressing about it. It would have done no good. To worry about it would have only put me in a negative mood, bringing out the worst in me and therefore turning a potentially great day into a horrible day. Instead, I gave myself credit for doing what I could do and admitted to myself that the rest was out of my control. I didn’t worry about it and had a great afternoon with my kids. And the situation turned out fine. It all worked out. I would have spent all that time worrying for nothing. I would have wasted a whole day stressed out and worried about the future. All for nothing.

Most of the things that we find ourselves worrying about will never really happen. Most of the things we worry about, we actually have very little control over. We can only control ourselves, our thinking, our behaviour. We can ultimately only be responsible for our own happiness.

Time and energy are all we really have in this world. I would much rather use mine to focus on positive thinking and things that make me happy rather than waste it uselessly stressing and being afraid of things that will probably never happen. It’s crazy to me now when I think of all the time and energy I’ve wasted on worrying about something. But I’m not going to fret about that, either. That is the past. I cannot change it, and I have no real reason to want to. Instead, I will be grateful for this moment and fill it with all the happiness I can. Because I can.

A Meditation On Love

Happiness, Meditation
I am beautiful, and my heart is full of love. I do not require anyone else’s love to be happy. I have enough love inside of me. I want others to be happy. And I want to be in healthy relationships with those I love, but my love for myself, and therefore my happiness and peace of mind, cannot depend on other people or things. This is not necessarily because of their flaws or potential to hurt me, it is simply to say that I have to love myself and be happy with myself before I can experience any other type of truly loving relationship. If I have no love in my heart for myself, then I have no love to give to anyone else. But if my heart is full of my own love, then I have all the love in the world to give to others. I want to share it with everyone, and I don’t require it from anyone else to be happy. I have enough.
Slowly learning these lessons is a beautiful and life changing thing. It means caring for myself, listening to and appreciating my body, changing destructive behaviours, using positive thoughts to motivate my self-love, and in turn my love for the world. It means reaping all the peace-finding benefits of loving thyself, and therefore being able to truly love others. It is filling my heart with a beautiful, nurturing love and appreciation for myself, which allows me to also see the rest of the world with more kindness, appreciation, understanding, patience, and love.
                                                                    
Contemplation on Happiness
The pursuit of happiness. Is it not the most all encompassing subject of our everyday being? There are so many theories, ideas, and different ways to find one’s own happiness and inner peace.
Happiness comes from compassion and helping others find their happiness.
Following your true inner dreams and finding your ultimate, unique, soul fulfilling purpose in the world, is this not our purpose in life?
But shouldn’t we be savouring every moment and living in the “now”?
Or is the purpose of life more spiritual than these quests? Is it not a connection to the divine that gives meaning and joy to our lives?
Isn’t life merely what you perceive it to be? Based on this knowledge, can a person not find inner peace by merely looking inside and learning to love themselves and the world around them regardless of their circumstance or place in life?
These are the questions and ideas that I contemplate on a daily basis. Yes, this may sound tedious to some: wondering, contemplating, researching ideas and questions that I may never know the answers to. But I love it. Yes, it would seem to be infinitely easier to just simply go to work and take care of my responsibilities and live a life on a path pretending to not look around me and realize that I have the power to change it and make it whatever I can dream and discover.
I do not wish to live life that blindly. I want to live a life of purpose and meaning, knowing what path I am on and passionately loving the reasons I have chosen it. I will admit that as I get older I can feel myself losing some of that passionate drive to constantly move forward in an effort to discover my dreams. This has merely been replaced by a deeper understanding, though: a realization and acknowledgement of how easy it is to work yourself into a place of forgetting who you are and what you dream of and also an acute desire to not let this happen in my life. An acute desire to make the absolute most of my life. This may mean something different to everyone. I believe that the journey to a life of fulfillment and peace is probably different for each individual and is probably some combination of all the ideas mentioned above. It would seem that we could learn so much from one another and from helping each other to find our own paths. One thing I cannot deny, though, is my complete obsession and love for contemplating these things; my passion to discover what it truly means to live life to it’s fullest, experiencing true happiness and inner peace.

“We love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Happiness