Growing up in a NYC apartment, gardening was not an obvious pastime. Yet my mother managed to dig up some gardening tools and take both them and me downstairs to play in the dirt in front of our landscaped building. There, she could get lost for hours, while me? Well, not so much.
Fast forward several decades, and well, it’s clear that I’m following in her footsteps. With my own home, it’s certainly lots easier– and very rewarding to look out and see a beautifully landscaped yard, complete with flowers. Heck, for this one-time apartment-dweller, It’s even a joy to have a slider to the deck, being able to bring a little outdoors in.
What I didn’t know yet is while the hobby is enjoyable, it actually increases happiness. Yes, that’s right, playing in the dirt can raise your serotonin levels; what some call the happy chemical. It’s found in the brain, among other places in the body, and it helps regulate mood. Researchers have connected the mycobacterium in the soil with boosting mood and the production of serotonin in the brain. Which makes it all the more interesting that children learn to do it at an early age—zen-like peace and happiness. What more can you want in a world that runs so fast, there’s little time spent just enjoying nature for nature’s sake?
So, whenever anyone buys my book, The Upside-Down Gardener, directly from me, they get a pack of seeds and a wish to ‘keep blooming.’ I try to encourage young humans to try their hand at planting, watching, wishing and yes, increasing their happiness. At one school, we flooded their garden patch with thousands of seeds on top of dozens of seed balls the kids made themselves. I’d love to see how that garden looks now. I only wish the kids were there to enjoy it.
So, for now, gardening will be a solitary venture, yet still with immense benefits. Have you ever found a grumpy gardener? Now you know why.