Happiness is Digging in the Dirt

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According to the famous plant collector, E.H. Wilson, “There are no happier folks than plant lovers and none more generous than those who garden.” I agree. Researchers now have some proof as to why gardeners tend to be so happy.

Have you ever noticed how good you feel after you spend time in the garden? Or that standing outside and just smelling the smell of good, old-fashioned soil in the air makes you feel better? Science tells us that getting our hands dirty actually gives our brain a boost. Digging in the dirt releases a strain of bacterium in the soil, called Mycobacterium vaccae. M. vaccae triggers a release of serotonin in the brain which provides that lovely lift that we experience. Along with increasing our happiness, serotonin is also credited with decreasing our anxiety level.

M.vaccae enters our bodies through the air that we breathe, so even those who stand nearby and watch someone else dig in the dirt and garden will benefit. This research would indicate that inhaling M.vaccae may be responsible for our feelings of well-being when we are being contemplative in the garden, too. Science also shares that the effects of the natural high seem to taper off after only three weeks.

To keep the natural boost going, it is recommended that we get into the garden as often as possible. Even a weekly dose of M.vaccae will help you continue to feel happy.

Here’s to digging in the dirt, feeling good and gardening mindfully.

© Rita Perea, 2015. All rights reserved.

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