Smile! What is it that makes us happy?
Have you ever noticed how some people seem to smile a lot? How does this make you feel? Perhaps you are envious or maybe you think they are foolish. You might not even have noticed that there's a whole heap of people out there who look happy most of the time. Are you one of them?
Can you look at this picture without smiling? A smile is catching!
Smile lesson number 1: Paste it on!
Did you know that pasting a smile on your face can actually make you feel better? Psychologists call it the facial feedback hypothesis. It's all about the way that facial expression is affected by your mood , and vice versa. So, if you frown for most of the day you will, no doubt, feel miserable. And if you force yourself to smile, youre more likely to enjoy yourself. Smiling and looking into a mirror gives you a mini-boost. Just make sure nobody's watching as you might earn yourself a rather crazy label.
Smile lesson number 2: Green things:
Scientists have discovered that plants can make you happy, and tending to plants isn't considered to be bonkers at all! Once you start to look into the reasons why plants are good for the mind, body and soul, the whole psychology of plants begins to make sense.
This sweet smile, combined with the tree and natural surroundings, is almost guaranteed to make the wearer of the smile feel good!
How can plants help health?
Theres no doubt that growing your own
has far more benefits than merely food provision. Growing and tending plants is a pastime that has been shown to make people happy.
Indeed, the days when allotments were inhabited only by men aged 65+ are long gone. Allotmenteering is trendy (but the word trendy is probably not).
Growing your own is a great way to make yourself smile! There's something earthy and soothing about having an allotment and it soon makes you feel as if you are a part of the community.
Smile lesson number 3: The social aspect:
People obsessed with growing things
are all over the place like flies. You don't need to look very hard to find folk with compost under their fingernails. The activity of gardening is now recognised as not only providing a useful energy-outlet to burn calories, increase endorphins
and raise the spirits but a great social outlet too.
There are friends to be made and stories to tell down on the allotment. Gardening brings people together and provides joy.
Smile lesson number 4: Activity:
Young and middle-aged people who have been used to attending the gym are finding that gardening is just as good, if not better than spinning, kick boxing and working with weights. Why? Because its a real activity where there is structure and meaning. You get to meet like-minded people who are always keen to share ideas and at the end of the growing cycle you have the immense satisfaction of eating some healthy and delicious produce. Whats more, you can share surplus with friends and neighbours and its a great way to make people smile and to promote a community spirit.
It's a lonely road, down in the gym.
Smile lesson number 5: nurture and nature:
The benefits of plants are numerous
and various studies over the years have unearthed similar results. Both mental and physical health is determined by the environment surrounding an individual. Concrete, isolation and lack of stimulation is not conducive to raising any sort of smile. Even indoor gardening is hugely beneficial to those living in urban areas. Flat and city dwellers are said to experience a much higher risk of mental health issues such as depression when compared with country-dwellers. Tending to plants helps to bring people out of their isolation.
Flats with balconies offer a great opportunity for growing. But even homes with no outdoor space can have plants on windowsills and shelves.
Smile lesson number 6: keep illness at bay:
Plants have been shown to aid the healing process due to their soothing effects; they contribute to a feeling of wellbeing, they can help reduce headaches by cleaning the air and raising humidity levels; they help to reduce blood pressure; increase motivation and purpose (its all about a sense of achievement); increase energy and therefore performance levels; they even help to increase compassion and therefore improve relationships. Surely there must be a down-side, for heavens sake?
Who would think that a simple pot of lavender could bring so much joy?
August in the vegetable garden
It seems there are no disadvantages to engaging with plants! Particularly during August when delightful produce is there for the taking.
There are apples and apricots ripening on the trees; blackberries in the hedgerows; beetroot, broccoli, carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers, courgettes, garlic, leeks, onions, potatoes, sweetcorn, sweet potatoes and more to gather. Those with a vegetable and fruit garden have so much food that they hardly know what to do with it. Theres so much to harvest that summer parties need to be put on hold for a while.
The harvest just can't wait! There's always something to do down on the allotment, and plenty of friends to find there too.
The quirky bits
About parties: this is one aspect of social life that might suffer, should you decide to become a grow your own addict. Why? Because allotmenteers tend to be rather obsessive and rarely notice the vacant expression that creeps over the faces of those ensnared in conversation.
Plant obsession is not always shared by all who are forced to listen!
More endearing attributes shared by growers:
Smile! You can normally recognise a fellow garden-lover.
- These unique people seem to turn into Wombles as their pockets are generally bulging with useful pieces of string, wire and tools. They also display an unhealthy obsession about the contents of other peoples skips.
- Most are more allotment-proud than they are house-proud, so visitors would be wise to don their oldest clothes before a visit. Tea in tiaras just isnt the ticket.
- Make do and mend becomes a mantra. Gone are the days of perfect alignment or gleaming equipment.
- Repetition rules! The menu might involve cauliflowers, beans and potatoes for weeks on end. Cookbooks suggesting alternative ways to cook a carrot make an excellent gift for a growing-geek.
- Allotmenteers wear a smile. This can be very annoying for people who are filled with gloomy thoughts.
Where to find something to make you smile
Take a visit to Perfect Plants Ltd.