Cultivating Happiness

Yesterday I decided that it was time to plant the wildflower seeds that I have had sitting in my seed basket for the last month and a half.  As I was working on loosening the top two inches of my heavy clay soil, I had ample time to think.  A memory I have of myself that comes up often when I’m working in the garden popped into my head.

Sowing Wildflowers and Happiness

I’m maybe eight years old, and I’m sitting on the brick wall of a raised bed in my childhood home backyard.  I am studying the pink, tube like flowers that expel one large black seed (I don’t know what they are called to this day).  Not only am I fascinated, but I am entranced by the wonder that such a small flower could produce such a big seed.  I felt total peace.

I think I have this memory when I’m working in the garden because almost every time I’m out there, at some point, no matter how hard the work, I come to this same peace.

It’s possible that this time, the memory was triggered because I have been reading The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.  While the book may not offer anything totally new or surprising about being happy, (she acknowledges that “everything important has been said before.  Even that statement.  It was Alfred North Whitehead who said, ‘Everything important has been said before,’”) reading about what someone personally gleans from working on becoming happier is immensely powerful.

One of her realizations has really stuck with me.  She says, “Do what you do.  What you enjoyed doing as a ten-year-old, or choose to do on a free Saturday afternoon is a strong indication of your passion.”  I have been trying to conjure up memories of what I loved to do when I was ten since she mentioned that.

Obviously, I loved contemplating nature and the world around me.  I would sit for hours in the Chinese elm tree in the front yard, hidden from the traffic driving down our street by the long flowing branches, and I would watch the neighborhood in action.  I loved dancing, writing in my journal, riding my bike, and playing with my friends.  I loved when I was successful at playing a song well on my violin and really enjoyed singing in our school choir.  And how could I forget?  I read voraciously.

I garden to grow my happiness.  I know I’m doing what I love when I’m out with my hands in the dirt I garden to feel like I’m getting things done.  Where I go next with gardening, besides my yard, remains to be seen, but I am certain that I am creating a space for happiness when I do it.

2 thoughts on “Cultivating Happiness

  1. I enjoy your expression “Cultivating Happiness” it gives me good food for thought.

  2. As I mentioned on the phone, I spent a summer reading Gretchen Rubin’s articles about happiness on The Huffington Post. Your blog inspired me to look back at my journal and I was faced with the glaring reminder of what I need to be doing. My favorite part of my childhood was playing. That translated to my love of theatre. I am getting back out there. I am also writing a curriculum that relates theatre techniques to teaching content area courses. Thank you for the reminder of the need to seek out our own joy. xoxo

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