I would not be surprised that if I asked 100 random people about New Year’s resolutions that most of them could name the most popular things that people resolve to change in their lives. Lose weight, manage stress, get healthy, do more for others/volunteer, save money and spend more time with loved ones must lead the pack.
What I found surprising is that after one month (here in February) nearly 65% of those who made resolutions are still abiding by them. Mine never last that long so 35% of you are better off than me! So for those of you who remain committed to your self-improvement I not only congratulate you but would also like to offer you some helpful information to help you continue your path of success.
By now many of you may have heard of the 1989 NASA clean-air study identifying the ability of house plants to clean harmful toxins from your household air. In 4th grade we all learned that plants remove harmful carbon dioxide while adding beneficial oxygen to our atmosphere. What was newly discovered at that time was the ability of house plants to absorb significant amounts of contaminants such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from indoor air. As our homes have become more efficient and tightly sealed, these harmful gases have become trapped inside with us. These toxins are excreted from carpet, paints, adhesives, and other building materials and are a constant threat to our well-being. The good news is that one good sized houseplant can clean the air in 100 square feet of your home or office.
Stress seems to be a growing concern with the fast-paced, high-tech lifestyles we have adopted. Experts offer a multitude of methods to help us better cope with stress; diet, exercise, meditation… the suggestions go on and on. According to a study done at Rutgers University in New Jersey, nature has provided us with a simple way to improve emotional health – flowers. The presence of flowers (or flowering plants) positively affects social behavior far more that has been previously believed. "What's most exciting about this study is that it challenges established scientific beliefs about how people can manage their day-to-day moods in a healthy and natural way," said, Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Rutgers and lead researcher on the study.
During the 10 month study the Rutgers team explored the connection between the emotional and behavioral responses of subjects who were given flowers. Interestingly, 100% of respondents expressed significantly positive feedback in all age groups tested. Yes, flowers make people happy! Not only were recipients happy, they experienced a long-term positive impact feeling less agitated, anxious and depressed and felt a higher degree of enjoyment and self-satisfaction. It comes as no surprise that flowers make people happier but this scientific study confirms the positive affects flowers have on our emotional well-being.
So, what happens after this (now happy) person receives flowers… where are they displayed? They are placed in the foyer, in the living room or dining room… places where people congregate and share company thus enhancing our connection with family, friends and loved ones.
Finally there is documented evidence that flowers offer much more than just something nice to look at and explains why the use of flowers has withstood the test of time. Now, we know the reason why flowers have always been considered as great gifts for any occasion as well as the ideal decoration for every turn in life. From birth, marriage, anniversary and yes, in death, flowers help create the mood that helps us as humans connect more deeply.
When did anti-oxidants become such a big deal? When did we wake up and discover the benefits of super foods like kale and blueberries? What started the latest trend of growing more of our own food and doing so organically? What’s up carbon footprints, bee decline and the loss of butterflies?
It would take some time to answer all those questions but more easily answered would be is to answer; what do all of them have in common?
Plants, gardening and you. Plants are the super foods that you can grow to put more healthy food on the table for you and your family. You can plant trees to sequester carbon dioxide, you can create butterfly habitat and you can help to create a healthier environment for bees and other pollinators. The best thing is that by doing these things you will alleviate your stress, get more exercise, be healthier, do more for others and be a happier person. Include a friend, inspire your neighbor or a family member and you are on your way to not only making good on your New year’s resolutions, you will be making the ultimate contribution to society. You will be making this community a better place than it was when you found it.
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!