Gardening gifts myriad opportunities to be grateful; Grateful that the sun is shining, or that the wind has abated or that the rain is doing the watering today. Grateful that those seeds germinated, or that plant flowered or that bush berried. We gardeners can mistake our kind regard for the situational moment as relief; relief that the sun is shining or the wind abated etc but becoming more mindful we not only shift our contentment to joy, but lift our relief to thankfulness – to a deeper appreciation of the situation. To not just sense the happening of a good moment but embrace and rejoice that the moment is doing you good too.
Many studies have found that expressing or experiencing gratitude can trigger a realization of eudaimonia; that’s a positive psychological perception of one’s own welfare, often accompanied by a sense of physical health. Being thankful is so close to being joyful that our brain chemistry and body responds accordingly. Gratitude is now popular as a psychological device to protect oneself from stress, negativity, self-pity, anxiety, and depression. Long before that it was simply a way to count your blessings.
Cultivating eudaimonia. The concept of eudaimonia is as old as the Greek gods but it is perhaps most clearly considered in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics where it is understood to mean “to live and fair well”. Etymologically, it consists of the words “eu” meaning wellness and “daimōn” which denotes a guardian spirit; so it is the spirit of doing good – thriving. It is often translated as welfare, wellbeing, happiness, flourishing, blessedness, prosperity, and so on – you get the meaning; it’s not a bad thing to be cultivating.
So how do we grow this good life. Well by growing things and enjoying them, by eating our harvest, by looking forward to our next sowing, by participating in our pleasures and our rewarding pastimes. Appreciating the garden and mindfully considering the more positive aspects of life is often seen as having a positive outlook but it is a personality trait than can be honed more if you naturally have it and even gained if it’s not your natural inclination.
The way is to express more gratitude, kind regard and loving kindness towards your self, your daily experiences and your life journey. It is not so difficult. It is just a matter of allowing it. Take the time to appreciate the beauty or bounty of the next plant you water. Take the time to notice the next pollinating bee. Bring your awareness to just how good it is to be outside as your flourishing self in your flourishing garden