How gardening is a lot like wellbeing
I’ve always wanted to get into gardening and have started doing more and more over the last few years. But it’s tricky especially as I often felt like I didn’t know where to start and what to do. Talking to people who have more gardening experience than me, particularly my wonderful stepfather, they would say not to over complicate it and I could just start with working on planting some things that I liked.
I did over complicate it though particularly as I didn’t really know what I wanted to plant. Or when I did pick something, there would seem to be lots of rules about how to look after what I’d chosen along with when it would flower and where to plant it. I wanted the outcome of the beautiful garden but I was really unsure of the journey to enable that to come to life. I really wanted someone to just tell me what to do and give me a plan that I could follow.
This Spring, as I started to think about the garden again, it struck me how similar the gardening process is to working on your wellbeing practice. Often we all know what we want – in my case, when I look out the window, a beautiful tidy garden full of flowers and thriving plants. But because I didn’t know how to get there and when I tried I sometimes failed, I would just leave it be – my fixed mindset saying I couldn’t do it right so why bother. And then obviously I missed out on taking part in something that was important to me.
the importance of practice
As my personal wellbeing practice has developed over the years and now I’m following my passion to help others develop theirs, I often have people come to me in a similar space to how I am around my garden. They want to be fixed, they want me to tell them what to do and they want a quick and simple result. I then always respond that developing a wellbeing practice is not a linear process, not a tick box exercise and wellbeing works differently for all of us – it’s a case of finding what works and what doesn’t, what we enjoy and brings us peace and calm and what doesn’t really do it for us.
And then I realised that they must feel just like I do about my garden. The advice sounds sensible and often very straightforward but in practice I’m still left feeling a bit stuck.
lessons from the garden
So when you get back to basics, here are my lessons learned around starting to develop a wellbeing plan – or learning how to garden!
grow your mindset as well as your plants
Switch your fixed mindset to a growth mindset.A fixed mindset says we need to know what we are doing before we can be successful and we are limited in learning anything new or different. When embarking on developing any kind of change in our lives, growth mindset is much more helpful – we need to let go of our need to control what’s happening, accept that we are on a learning journey, we don’t know everything but we can find out and that’s part of bringing that change into fruition.
small steps work best
Start with tiny steps. Again being fixed on an outcome and wanting to get to that outcome within a set period of time can turn the change process and the learning journey into an incredibly stressful one as we fight against it and look for all the challenges and problems with what we are trying to do. Of course big audacious goals in life are important, but make sure you break them down into tiny steps to begin with. As you accomplish those tiny steps, that feeling of success means you’re then going to much more easily reinforce the positive behaviours so you keep on going and doing more. Before you know it, you’re well on the way to your dream.
Have some fun experimenting. The journey in itself can be lots of fun – something we often miss when we’re constantly focused on looking ahead. Bring yourself back to the present moment and realise that by trying different things, some of which will go well and some of which won’t, you’re going to find out so many things that you didn’t know before. Failing is an essential part of this process so seeing it as a big experiment helps take the pressure off.
Use it as an opportunity to build amazing connections with other people. Embarking on any change or new project can open us up to whole new worlds full of people that we’d never have connected with before. So we not only get the joy of bringing about positive change but we also get to connect with others in an authentic way who are just as passionate about what’s important to you. This is a proven way to enhance your sense of positive wellbeing and it’s also amazing how many people are willing to share what they know and help you on your journey.