Grow Your Own Joy


I love spring and as this is the first spring that I’ve been home in the past few years, I was determined to plant a garden. The thought of walking into the backyard to pick fresh tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, mint is exciting, and now that I have everything planted, I find myself obsessively checking my garden’s progress.

While this might not come as a big surprise to experienced gardeners, I’m amazed to see the little plants I’m watering and clucking over, grow and blossom. And I wonder, is it really that easy?

Sunshine, water, good soil, and a little daily attention seem like such a small price to pay for fresh food – throw in the added joy of watching it grow and it seems like an incredible bargain.

Here’s the thing. My garden is planted in a long planter on the side of the garage. For years I stared at the ugly planter, which was overgrown with weeds and thought that I should use it to grow vegetables. But I did nothing about it. Well, that’s not quite true. I actually thought about it a lot. But took no action. (Except for not liking myself for taking no action.)

You see where this is going, right?

Why is it so much easier to focus on the negative than to take a positive action?

Maybe it’s because we’re hard-wired to have a negative bias, which was crucial to our survival as a species. Or maybe it’s because negative thoughts are energy draining. Or maybe it’s because we’ve let negative thoughts become habits. Or all of the above.

All the time I spent hating the ugly planter made it harder to take action than if I had been able to look at it and think “what a perfect opportunity to start a garden!” Or if I had visualized myself picking ripe tomatoes and proudly serving them at dinner. Or if I had broken the task down into bite-sized pieces rather than getting overwhelmed by the whole process. Or if I had simply stopped procrastinating.

I always feel better when I take positive action. Always!! Yet I have to learn that lesson over and over. And that’s a big waste of time and energy.

So I’m figuring that if I give the lesson as much attention and care as I give my garden, by midsummer I should have a firmly rooted take-action positive mindset to go along with my ripe and juicy homegrown tomatoes. Pretty good harvest, don’t you think?

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