“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” David Steindl- Rast
For a lot of folks, gardening is a pleasurable hobby that relieves stress. It’s an activity where you can be both productive and bring beauty into the world.
But I’m curious to know, do you think of gardening as a joyful act?
I’m writing about this subject because I’ve been immersed in working on creativity and joy for decades now. It’s an area that has interested me since I was a young girl when I encountered what the renowned psychologist, Abraham Maslow, called peak experiences, while practicing the piano. I had no idea what was happening to me but I knew I wanted more of it in my life
(*For those of you who aren’t familiar with Maslow’s work, peak experiences are often described as transcendent moments of pure joy and elation. They stand out from everyday moments; the memory of them are lasting and frequently spiritual.)
Years later, as the mother of 2 toddlers, gardening drew me once again into this extraordinary state. And to this day, both gardening and playing the piano are tools for me to access my creative, authentic self, and experience what Carl Rogers called self-actualization, Joseph Campbell, rapture, and Csikszentmihalyi, flow.
In my book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, I share strategies on how to access your creative self which frequently act as a catalyst for peak experiences.
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown, talks about how the practice of gratitude and joy go together:
“In many ways, my research has not only taught me new ways to think about how I want to live and love, it’s taught me about the relationship between my experiences and choices. One of the most profound changes in my life happened when I got my head around the relationship between gratitude and joy. I always thought that joyful people were grateful people. I mean, why wouldn’t they be? They have all of that goodness to be grateful for. But after spending countless hours collecting stories about joy and gratitude, three powerful patterns emerged:
- Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice.
- Both joy and gratitude were described as spiritual practices that were bound to a belief in human inter-connectedness and a power greater than us.
- People were quick to point out the differences between happiness and joy as the difference between a human emotion that’s connected to circumstances and a spiritual way of engaging with the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude.”
So, if you want to have more joy in your life, practice gratitude.
And the garden is an ideal place to begin this habit.
For example, when you dig a hole in the ground and feel the soil in the palm of your hand, or as it crumbles between your fingers, you’re participating in a ritual that’s been taking place since the dawn of humankind.
If you let a thought like ‘Thank you spirit for giving me this rich soil to grow plants that feed my body and soul”, run through your brain in matter of a few seconds, you are practicing gratitude.
When you’re on all fours weeding, if you look up for a moment and observe the dappled sunlight playing off of the leaves of a tree and experience a feeling of grace, you are not only nourishing your body and soul, you are also practicing gratitude.
It’s literally taking a moment in the garden, just one moment, to slow down, pause, take a deep breath, observe, and infuse your senses with the majesty of nature.
It’s a simple practice with tremendous benefits. Just ask anyone who does it.
If you think it’s ‘woo woo’ or don’t believe in the power of practicing gratitude, that’s OK. Still do it.
Like anything that’s new to you, it initially may feel uncomfortable. But the more you practice, the easier it becomes until one day you realize that being grateful has become woven into the fiber of who you are.
Gardening, joy, and gratitude…..do you experience it?
Do you want more of it? What other areas outside of gardening, do you encounter it?
I would love to hear your comments.
As always, if you enjoyed this article, please share with others on social media to help get the word out. Thanks. xo-Fran