Plants and humans have more in common than you might think. Both benefit from sunlight, rest at night, and communicate with one another (plants share information through their roots). While most plant life appears simpler than ours, they are also full of complexities that aren’t always obvious, just like humans. All life seeks harmony and balance in its own way.
Do you know that sunflowers are made up of hundreds of tiny flowers called florets? We, too, are a unique combination of hundreds of seemingly small traits that shape us each into someone special. Some of the most vivid flowers, like hyacinths and marigolds, are capable of withstanding the harshest climates. We also learn to adapt to unexpected circumstances as we evolve and grow throughout life, while sharing several intriguing parallels with our natural environment.
When you are seeking balance in your everyday life, I hope that you find comfort in reviewing these five lessons I learned from studying plant behaviors.
Turning Towards the Sun
Fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Just living is not enough... One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
Speaking of sunshine and flowers, solar energy is essential for all life. Plants need sunlight to produce energy, and humans need sunlight to get Vitamin D, which helps them build stronger bones and boosts serotonin, a hormone that helps you stay calm and focused. There are plenty of reasons why it’s important to get a dose of sunshine every day. It affects more than just your Vitamin D count.
One of the most important foundations in life is good health. Whether you like hiking or having a picnic, it is scientifically proven that spending time outdoors in the sunshine improves your well-being. Spending time in the sun helps spark harmonious feelings and uplift your mood. When in a funk, embody a sunflower and turn towards the sun.
Channeling Good Vibrations
What you listen to affects your mood. According to a study published on The MusicLicence, 82 percent of gardeners play music while they are working in their garden, which commonly evokes a happy feeling. Listening to positive music helps reduce stress and may increase focus.
There are vibrations within nature that affect plants and animals, much like music affects humans. In fact, sounds with a frequency of about 250 to 300 Hz, which mimics the buzz a bee produces, can attract pollinators to your garden. That’s why some gardeners like to listen to certain types of music while they are tending to their plant nurseries.
Pop music tends to be the most favored genre among most gardeners, according to a survey. When I am growing a new flower or succulent, I like to sing oldies to it daily, like The Temptations’ swoon-worthy hit, “My Girl.”
Studies show that listening to music that gives you chills can produce dopamine, which is a chemical in the brain that provides an intense feeling of reward. Harmony, by definition, is when a combination of musical notes creates chords with a pleasing effect. Plants and humans both benefit from good vibrations. Play your favorite song to lift your spirits when you are feeling low.
Building a Community
Trees seem like independent plants, but they actually rely on a community of organisms to thrive in their environment. The balance between all living creatures in their natural habitat is vital for their survival. People are social beings with a natural desire to connect with one another, too.
Consider the California redwoods, which are among the world’s biggest organisms. These majestic plants would not survive without billions of microscopic bacteria that share the same soil and supply nourishment to their roots. Humans create meaningful relationships to form like-minded communities, supporting one another in times of need, similar to how plants need to live in a harmonious community of wildlife to survive.
Speaking of creating a harmonious relationship with your community,research shows that people who volunteer in the community grow happier over time. Not only is it intrinsically rewarding, but it also boosts a social connection. When we help one another, it’s similar to how the trees provide shade for wildlife and how bacteria create food for families of trees. When you are in a harmonious community, it helps maintain a peaceful balance in your surroundings while also encouraging unity and neighborhood safety.
Get a Good Night's Rest
Do you get enough rest? Humans and plants both have their own circadian clocks, meaning that their day-night cycle affects their daily routines. It may come as a surprise to most people that plants need rest, just like humans do. Plants are less active at night and “wake up” when the sun rises. Conserving energy is important for all life to be healthy and strong.
Keeping a consistent sleep schedule not only will keep your lifestyle in harmony with your body’s needs, but it also provides several health benefits. According to Health.gov, when people get enough sleep, they get sick less often, experience more mental clarity, and reduce their stress.
While plants don’t exactly sleep the same way we do, they do experience physiological changes throughout different stages of the day. When they are not absorbing the sun’s energy during photosynthesis, plants’ other natural processes activate, like their energy metabolism and growth.When humans sleep, our bodies conserve energy by slowing down some functions that are not necessary during our sleep, including our metabolism.This is why getting enough rest is important for maintaining balance in your everyday life.
Adapting to the Seasons
What we can learn from plants is to embrace the seasons of life rather than resist them.
When you experience a setback, think about the oldest tree in the world, the Great Basin Bristlecone, which is over 5,000 years old. Its capacity to endure the severe environments it inhabits is one of the factors that has kept it alive for thousands of years. Despite the extreme cold weather and high wind it endures, it continues to grow slowly and has developed a dense wood to protect itself. It is resistant to erosion, insects, and fungi. Due to its lack of vegetation, it’s also rarely affected by wildfires.
It limits our opportunities for growth when we aren’t willing to adapt. Think about the roots of a tree—the way they expand and reach beyond its bedded trunk. Imagine a desert biome, a landscape with little rain or moisture, yet it is still capable of growing yuccas, prickly pears, and brittlebush. It is in the moments when change is inevitable that we realize we have the power to adapt beyond the confines of our daily challenges.
Nature teaches us lessons every day if we take a moment to pause and pay attention. Anytime you are feeling out of tune, remember that you always have the option to learn a new song.
About The Author
Melissa Gill (she/her) is a passionate Las Vegas-based journalist, editor, and creative writer. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work appears in GRAMMY.com, Consequence of Sound, Flash Fiction Magazine, Beyond Thought Journal, Thought Catalog, Off The Strip, and elsewhere. A few of her favorite literary giants are Joan Didion, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ocean Vuong, and Neil Gaiman. When she’s not chasing a story, she enjoys playing board games, hiking with her partner, and watching offbeat horror films.