Garden Your Way to Health and Happiness

A garden is so much more than a parcel of ground devoted to growing and nurturing herbs, flowers and vegetables. It can also be a place where you can allow yourself to breathe, free yourself from the noise of the modern world and nourish your weary mind.

Most of us have probably experienced being in a garden. You must have watched your grandmother water her plants as you played with your toys in her well-manicured lawn, or you yourself must have dug your fingers into the dirt as you planted a fragile seedling to the ground. Can you remember how you felt when you were immersed in the task? Can you recall the look of happiness in your grandmother’s face as she watched  and watered her blooming flowers in the garden?

Would you believe this exotic beauty thrives at our tiny backyard?
Would you believe this exotic beauty thrives in our tiny backyard?

HOW GARDENING CAN IMPROVE YOUR WELL-BEING

People don’t go on retreats to urban areas. They go to a quiet place surrounded by vast gardens where they can hear the birds sing, contemplate  the beauty of a flower and reconnect with nature. This helps them revitalize their mind and enable them to put their problems in perspective. This is just one of the many ways gardening can improve your well-being. In fact, studies show that people who garden are naturally happier and healthier than those who don’t.

Gardening and Addiction

If you are someone struggling to overcome a negative habit, gardening can be a healthy alternative. People with addictions, for instance, take their minds off from the object of their addiction by taking a rake or a hoe and sweat their cravings out in the garden. I remember the time when my father quit smoking. He didn’t get help from professionals because we couldn’t afford the services of a behavioral psychologist. He just quit cold turkey on his own. But it was a time when I saw my father spend more time maintaining our tiny lawn and taking care of his herb garden.

My father grows chives in his herb garden behind the house.
My father grows chives in his herb garden behind the house.

My mother would always have fresh chives, basil, peppercorns, oregano, coriander and parsley for her dishes and lime and peppermint leaves for the guests’ mojitos.

Gardening and Children

Gardening can be as good for little kids as it is for adults, especially in their formative years. I once had the privilege of inviting a successful businessman to one of the career guidance forums I organize for graduating students in our school and one of the most unforgettable stories he shared with his audience of four hundred adolescents was how his early home life influenced much of his decisions as an adult. He grew up in a farm and saw how his grandfather took pleasure in raising animals and growing crops. This is why as an adult, he succeeded as a farmer and entrepreneur and obtained a high position in a gigantic agricultural company.

In this age of information and technology, kids can easily develop unhealthy habits such as playing too much video games or watching too much TV. Parents in the west are struggling to limit their children’s screen time. Sadly, some parents are even thankful to technology as it can very well take the place of a babysitter. Kids are made to sit in front of the idiot box so mother can go on with her household chores.

Developmental psychologists, however, would suggest that if kids are not in school, they should be encouraged to take part in everyday household activities. So when mother is tending the garden, it is best that she brings little kiddo along with her. This could give mother and child some quality time together. Often, this is a time for kids to tell their moms about what happened at school, what the neighbor’s kid has been up to lately or simply enjoy playing in the soil.

My four-year-old could recognize the keys on a keyboard to play Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty Black Ops even before he could even recognize the English alphabet. As much as possible, I take him with me outdoors.
My four-year-old could recognize the keys on a keyboard to play Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty Black Ops even before he could even recognize letters in the English alphabet. As much as possible, I take him with me outdoors.

Gardening and Spirituality

There is something about gardening that draws me closer to nature and to God. Sometimes, even the simplest tasks such as watering the plants or planting a seed on the soil would remind me of passages from the Bible, and so when I’m at the garden I would often hear God speak to me. It’s a profoundly wonderful feeling.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

– 1 Corinthians 3:7

Almost always, I also get answers to life’s toughest questions from my experiences with plants. Just like in gardening or farming, we can give our all but only God can determine the outcome, in His time.

SPACE IS NOT A PROBLEM

It doesn’t matter if you live in a 500-acre farm or a 150-square-foot apartment. You can always have your own garden.

My mother's garden in a tiny corner outside the house, where she nurtures potted plants that she can bring inside the house.
My mother’s garden in a tiny corner outside the house, where she nurtures potted plants that she can bring inside the house.

 

This indoor plant from mom's tiny garden makes a boring corner come to life.
This indoor plant from mom’s tiny garden makes a boring corner come to life.

 

This coriander in a recycled Mott's Apple Juice planter would soon find its way into my kitchen.
This coriander in a recycled Mott’s Apple Juice planter would soon find its way into my kitchen.

 

Planters can contain colorful flowering plants or culinary herbs and can definitely add life to your tiny patio.
Planters can contain colorful flowering plants or culinary herbs and can definitely add life to your tiny patio.

So don’t let space stop you from pursuing this healthy, soul-enriching hobby. All you have to do is employ your God-given creativity and unleash the gardener in you. Happy planting!

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