Gardening For The Soul: Ten Steps To A Happy Life

View from atop the Bavarian Alps

Spring is a good time to start fresh and focus on what’s really important in life. For me, the month of April is a time of introspection. I make a mental list of what parts of my life need to be reorganized, adjusted or just plain thrown out.  Then I replenish my house with a happy mind.

Just like spring cleaning, the job comes with a little work. But it always feels good once the task is done. Here are ten tips to get you started.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.10.13 PMAcknowledge what exists, right here, right now and accept that everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Expending all your energy on battling reality is never a recipe for happiness. Try taking a realistic view of what is happening in your life; then decide what you want to do about it.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.15.06 PMRecognize that problems do not exist as separate entities from the self. Only you can turn an event into a problem by allowing it to enter your mind and consume you. Remember that what seems upsetting to you may have no effect on others. Try looking at events in your life with more objectivity and realize that you alone create the effects they have on you.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.15.27 PMTreat yourself with the same kindness you treat your family, friends and pets. This seems like a natural, but many of us place our own emotional and physical wellbeing far behind all the others we care for in our lives. Caring for your own self is as important as caring for others, plus it has the added advantage of giving those you love more of you to care about.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.15.43 PMTake a walk outside, at least once, in every type of weather. Spring offers us rich opportunities to do this. Why do we label certain kinds of weather as “bad?” Challenge your conditioning, put on the appropriate clothing and venture outside your comfort zone. Discover the essential beauty of all forms of weather.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.15.56 PMRead a book on a subject you have no interest in. Our reading preferences by definition block us from expanding our horizons. How can we possibly know what we think about all topics? Choose a new reading category, open your mind and discover something new.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.19.59 PMAccept others as they are. Decide not to internalize other peoples’ behaviors and make them your own. Instead, watch the action like you watch a movie, choosing to like or dislike what you see, nothing more. A sense of humor helps a lot with this step.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.20.13 PMLook deeply into the eyes of someone you don’t know. Ever notice how catching someone’s eye instantly establishes a connection? It feels good to be actively seen. It also signifies that that person matters. Give someone the gift of your attention. It will change your day.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.20.35 PMListen attentively. Before jumping to respond, pause a moment and digest what is being said. Wait for the other side of the conversation to finish, then take a breath. You’ll discover things you might otherwise not have heard.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.20.53 PMNext time you prepare a meal, chop things slowly. Choose one food and appreciate the feel of it in your hand and the flavors it releases.  This simple act will provide you with a whole new understanding of the foods we eat and the important gifts they bring us.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 12.21.04 PMDecide to be happy. Happiness is a decision. Vow not to have any more “good” or “bad” days. Realize that all days are made up of both. Greet each morning with a positive attitude. A happy life awaits you.




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About carole funger

I'm a landscape designer and Maryland Master Gardener living in the Washington, DC area. I blog about new trends in horticulture, inspiring gardens to visit and the latest tips and ideas for how to nurture your own beautiful garden. Every garden tells a story. What's yours?

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