This summer in the Midwest has been especially hot and dry. There has not been as much yard work to do this year, as nothing seemed to be growing. Plants are dry and spindly; grass is brown and prickly. Our town even had to impose a "sprinkling ban" to help conserve water to ensure enough water would be available in the event of a fire. As I looked out into my backyard this past weekend, I felt a little sad. The plants all looked neglected, as though they had been leftovers from a year that had long passed.
As I scanned the yard, I noticed a few green things that still seemed pretty healthy. Green stems with sharp prickly leaves poked their heads out in the middle of the lawn. The flowerbeds had plants with wide, velvety leaves spilling over the borders of garden. The plants that would have normally been pulled or cut down were still flourishing; in fact, because of the lack of attention they were receiving, they were the only things that did seem to be growing. These plants that were hearty enough to survive the hot summer were the weeds.
Our minds are very much like a garden. Just as seeds grow, so do our thoughts. When we think of our thoughts as seeds and our rooted beliefs as established plants in our garden, the connection is easily made. If we do not properly water and care for our garden, newly sprouting seeds will die. The positive thoughts we planted will start to wilt when not tended to, and the thoughts that we do not want are left to grow wildly, just like weeds. Regardless of the hot temperature and dry soil, the weeds were strong, as their roots had burrowed deep within the earth and were holding on tightly.
Negative thoughts can grow like weeds. As we plant the garden of our mind, we must select thoughts that will grow into beautiful flowers. We prepare the soil by taking care of our bodies. Good nutrition, adequate sleep, fresh air and exercise all contribute to a healthy garden. Meditating is another way to create fertile soil. When we learn to relax our minds, we become more aware of our thoughts and we have more control over which thoughts get planted into our garden. When we notice a thought spouting in our garden that we do not want, we need to remove it, just as we would pull the unwanted weeds when they begin to grow.
The plants and flowers that make the garden of our mind beautiful are the positive thoughts we nurture and help to grow. Just like plants grow and multiply, so do our positive thoughts. When we provide the plants with sunshine and water, they will grow strong and tall. Buds will begin to form next to the green leaves, and before long, flowers will bloom to fill our garden with brilliant colors and intoxicating smells.
Some people like to decorate their gardens with little gnomes, pinwheels and welcome signs, while others prefer a simple, clean, manicured look. It doesn't matter how you landscape your garden, as long as it makes you happy. How someone else decides to decorate their garden is not our concern, because as long as we feel good about our own garden, we can be happy. Tolerance of other people's gardens saves us valuable gardening time in our own garden, and we can share seeds with other gardeners and hope that through our sharing their garden can make them as happy as we are by ours. By spreading beauty in the world, we can help make the world a beautiful place. We would never want to intentionally plant weeds in someone else's garden, so it is important to be conscious of any negative thoughts or words that we share with others. Just like randomly blowing the fuzzy seeds of a dandelion into the wind, negativity can quietly take root and grow if we are not careful.
Our garden is where we can find peace and tranquility, but it does take some work. We will get dirty, and sometimes we may get blisters on our hands from digging, but when the work is done, our garden is a place where we can relax and find joy. That peace and joy is what makes the work so important, and also what makes our minds such beautiful places. Be selective with what you plant into your garden, and be sure to water it frequently. When we feel good, we grow positive seedlings to plant in our garden, and we want to be prepared if ever a dry summer comes.
For more by Denise Scarbro, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more