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Five Life Lessons Learned In The Garden

Gardening teaches us a few basic principles that we can apply to our lives. From letting go of the old, cutting back when things get unruly, to creating a hospitable emotional environment that welcomes visitors we can learn a few things just by spending an afternoon in the garden.


In the garden, as in life, there are seasons and those seasons bring change, growth, death, and renewal. When I was growing up in Florida, hurricanes were a normal part of our lives. Hurricanes brought with them seemingly endless downpours that flooded the streets and neighborhoods. The winds knocked down old trees, loose branches and leaves, and swept away sands along the seashore. Despite the mess and devastation a storm can bring into our lives, it can also clear out the dead, useless, and unnecessary parts of our lives. The rains, or tears, we that drenched us gives us the fuel and cleansing we need to start anew. It’s then, in the wreckage, when we ask ourselves how much we really need after our entire world has been washed or blown away. And it’s only after that when we can begin to rebuild, clean up, and start a new.

Japanese Knotweed: its beauty can overpower


The garden teaches us that, as with trees, shrubs, and wild growing climbers, we must cut back before things get too big, too wild, too thick, and too unruly to handle. If a gardener doesn’t manage a Japanese Knotweed for example, the beautiful and enchanting climber can turn into a pest that can overwhelm the entire garden and choke out other life. Sometimes, we have habits, vices, or relationships which in moderation can be healthy, but if we don’t learn to contain, trim back, and manage them, they can take over and make a mess of the garden that is our psyche and our physical lives.


An imbalance in the garden can bring conditions that welcome pests and diseases that can wreak havoc or even kill our plants. Sometimes, we must eradicate pests or in our case negative people with force, but avoid too strong of treatments as to hurt our them and ourselves in the process. It’s during these times that we must be gentle, clever, and swift in handling pests. Whether by introducing other insects, or in our case, people or applying gentle treatments, we send the message that we’re not going to tolerate an invasion of pests that eat away at our energies, our bounty, and our beauty.


The characteristic of a beautiful garden is that even in winter when all the flowers have died, the bushes and trees have been trimmed back, and there is silence and white and covers the space, it still looks remarkably beautiful. It has taught me that when times are bleak or when times are bountiful, we can still compose ourselves with character and charm and still get through the season with grace. The winter reminds me that underneath all of that foliage or our money, our job title, or social or financial status, when it’s all stripped away there is a backbone, character, and grace.


In the garden, as in life,  guests, friends, and strangers come in and out as quickly as they come. Sometimes, they’re just there to get what they need – like an emotional or physical pit stop – and they’re gone, never to return. Sometimes, people are like migrating birds that visit every so often to remind you that life does, in fact, move forward and some people, like local birds, live in the area and play a regular part of your life. We have the decision to make our lives warm and inviting as to meet the needs of those who come in and out or we can make our lives as barren and inhospitable as possible so that nobody can come and stop in and bring beauty, humor, and interest into our world.

[box] Have you ever spent a day working in a garden? Learn any lessons along the way? Share them in the comments section below.[/box]

Japanese Knotweed Photo Credits: Left Image: Phil Sellens, Right Image: Me’nthedogs


Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.

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