Intentional Optimists Plant Seeds of Optimism: A Journey Beyond the Soil

Intentional Optimists Plant Seeds of Optimism: A Journey Beyond the Soil
by Victor Perton

In the diverse spectrum of hobbies, certain activities like gardening, fishing, and golfing are often associated with optimists. This stereotype finds a solid foundation, especially in gardening, as vividly described by Phyllis Pugnetti in her article "Yakima County Master Gardeners: The Ultimate Act of Optimism."

Pugnetti compellingly articulates the essence of gardening as an optimistic pursuit. She states, "Instinctively, we know that acquiring food is the most crucial thing that humans do. The act of planting a seed says that you plan to be here in two months to eat the tomatoes, or in 20 years to eat the apples from the tree that you planted, because planting a seed may be the ultimate act of optimism." This perspective elevates the act of gardening from a mere routine to a profound expression of faith in the future."

Furthermore, Pugnetti sheds light on the mental health benefits of gardening, especially when it involves growing food plants. "An unexpected benefit of gardening, especially when growing food plants, is that the acts of planting, harvesting, eating and sharing food causes your brain to release endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, all of which are chemicals that make you feel happier and more optimistic."

This insight offers a scientific explanation for the joy and optimism often associated with gardening.

Scientific studies have given credibility to what gardeners have intuitively known for centuries: gardening fosters a positive outlook on life, reinforcing our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Waliczek, Zajicek, and Lineberger found that gardeners exhibit a heightened sense of optimism and an enhanced physical self-concept compared to their non-gardening counterparts. A direct engagement with nature stimulates positivity, shaping an environment where optimism blooms as vibrantly as the flora surrounding us.

Kristina McGuirk further underscores this sentiment in her article '7 Scientific Reasons Why Gardening Is Good for You'. McGuirk establishes that mere interaction with nature is enough to enhance well-being, with gardening further amplifying these effects by increasing positivity and optimism and aiding in combating mental health issues.

Complementing these insights, Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, echoed a similar sentiment in his tweet today, "It can be difficult to be optimistic when one sees the state of the world around us." He shared the story of Matra, whose garden in a displacement camp in northwest Syria stands as a beacon of hope and resilience. Her gardening demonstrates optimism; even under the most challenging circumstances, she can flourish.

While gardeners, fishers, and golfers may all be stereotyped as optimists, gardeners, in particular, embody this trait uniquely and profoundly. Gardening is not just about tending to plants; it's an act of optimism, nurturing hope and positivity. As Pugnetti and Griffiths illustrate, gardening transcends its physical bounds, becoming a symbolic and therapeutic expression of optimism in an often uncertain world.

As Phyllis concludes her article, "be intentionally optimistic and plant some seeds!"


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