Cultivate Mental Wealth
"If your soil isn't right, your garden will struggle to reach its full potential."
I love gardening. It’s one of my restorative practices and is incredibly therapeutic in my life and I know, for many others. There is something about working outside, digging in the dirt, sweating and getting sore, planting … and having the potential to be rewarded with a beautiful, thriving garden. It’s an amazing feeling and brings me joy throughout every season as i walk around my gardens, checking out each plant and looking for signs of its next transformation.
Why am I talking about gardening when this article is supposed to be about Mental Wealth? Stick with me and let me talk about gardening a little more… and then I’m pretty sure it will make total sense.
When I lived in Pennsylvania I was surrounded by amazing plant nurseries. One local nursery would host a garden walk every Sunday that I started to go to.
On the walk, the Master Gardener that was leading the walk said that the majority of your gardening budget should be going into the soil.
“Are you serious?” I said, “does it really need to be that much???”
I mean, I had a wagonful of plants and I was itching to get home and stick them in the ground. She patiently explained the anatomy of healthy soil, and reviewed all of the possible amendments, nutrients, and microorganisms that my precious new flower-babies needed to thrive. She then said - “you could try planting them without preparing the soil and see how it goes, but you will likely have stressed plants”.
Well for Pete’s sake, I’m a therapist and an empath, I couldn’t knowingly cause stress to a living thing if there was something I could do to prevent it. So that’s when I began delving into the world of organic gardening and expanding my appreciation for the intelligence of mother nature.
Healthy soil is teeming with resources that help fortify strong plants - worms that break up the soil making it easier for the roots to spread and providing the plant’s stability. Breaking up the soil also allows for needed air to enter deeper into the soil layers. The worms leave their castings (ya know - poop) - which is the perfect slow release plant food. As plant material breaks down into compost it provides essential nutrients and encourages beneficial insects and microorganisms that thwart disease and plant eating bugs.
Of course, water and sun are also factors.
But here’s the thing. Mother nature doesn’t always give us a steady, consistent dose of either one of these essentials. Our plants have to cope with drought and blasting sun as well as monsoon level rainy seasons and cloud-filled skies for days or even weeks. Some plants are resilient. Some aren’t. And the biggest factor in the plant's resilience to stress are its roots.
Fast forward a bunch of years. I am now in North Carolina and have a large backyard that was screaming for some greenery and beautiful blossoms.
I am a sucker for snatching up plants off the clearance racks throughout mid and late summer - I’m usually pretty sure I can find a spot to give the poor thing a chance. I do my best to plant them carefully so they have a shot at coming back to life and providing some make-me-happy blooms. I know this is not an ideal time to plant. It’s baking hot in our backyard at that time in the summer. I typically decide it's worth it to try. And if I lose it, I’m sad - but I’m at peace with it.
The thing is, I know it's already stressed. And I’m planting it when it's in the high 90s and the sun is brutal. But I carefully dig a huge hole and and prepare my soil with what google has told me is the best nutrient and composition combo for the particular plant. I clip off the dead and wilted bits to encourage new growth. And whisper sweet nothings. I’m convinced that helps.
And then I have to leave it alone and hope that it begins to draw on the resources it now has at its disposal and to begin to fortify its roots, to strengthen its body and to bloom - even when the conditions are harsh.
Here in North Carolina, we have had one of the warmest AND the rainiest years on record for well over 100 years. Walking across our backyard is akin to walking on a sponge. I have been very worried about my rescued flower-babies as they have been sitting in cold, wet earth for months on end.
And yet, just this weekend I was outside doing some spring clean-up and when I gently pulled away some fallen leaves from the stems, I was thrilled to see some new shoots popping up out of the ground. Mother nature is astounding. First coming back from the edge of death with the right resources from which to draw strength and now, withstanding months of dormancy sitting in wet soil, they once again rise to the challenge of life.
This is an incredible example of resiliency. And resiliency is what we need to build up within ourselves in order to weather the storms and stressors of daily life. In order to push through our fears and self-doubts and resist getting pulled back into our Stuck zone. We build up our strength and resiliency through consistently nurturing and utilizing our resources. And this is where the pathways come in.
Just as a plant’s roots draw strength from the various elements within the soil, likewise, we draw strength from various pathways. And by implementing tiny steps with consistency and creating new patterns within these pathways, we then can heal, strengthen, grow and even flourish.
There are 8 pathways within the Mental Wealth Model. Each is important to strengthening our roots and helping us to increase our resiliency to stress and everyday challenges.
✨ Mindset: How we view ourselves, others and the world around us
✨ Mindfulness: Awareness that aeries from paying attention, on purpose
✨ Thoughtfulness: Being mindful of your thoughts - both spoken and those that we are only semi-aware of
✨ Restoration: how we re-energize and refill our wells - creative projects, reading, journaling, nature walks
✨ Nourishment: The what and the how of what we put into our bodies
✨ Movement: any form of moving your body as well as connecting and appreciating your body and how it serves you
✨ Surroundings: Using and connecting to your environment - home, work, backyard - and using this connection in a positive way
✨ Supports: Relationships of every kind. Family, friends, professional. We are social beings - we need to connect and share experiences with others
How is Mental Wealth different from Mental Health?
When we speak of someone’s Mental Health, we are talking about their level of functioning - their state of wellbeing. Mental Wealth expands that view to include a holistic view of the individual’s strengths, skills and resources.
Mental Health is the what.
Mental Wealth is the HOW.
Recently I spoke about the Flow to Flourishing Framework, which explains the process that we need to take in order to break free from what keeps us stuck, unable to stop unwanted or unhealthy habits and falling prey to our fears and self-doubts.
So in looking at this framework, when we move from the Stuck Zone, through the Stretch Zone, and enter into the Step Zone, it is within this 3rd stage that we begin to explore and capitalize on these different pathways. By nurturing new patterns of thought and behavior within the pathways, we foster a positive self-concept and strengthen our identity, build confidence, and uplift our mood and energy levels.
When these patterns become routines and habits, we are utilizing the pathways of Mental Wealth to fully support our health and wellbeing. We are more calm and confident. And we live from a place of growth, possibility and joy. The pathways of Mental Wealth are the resources that we need in order to truly Flourish.
As always, I would love your thoughts and feedback. And also, feel free to contact me directly if you would like to learn more about how to expand YOUR mental wealth and put into place your own Habits to Happiness.
Questions or comments? Interested in learning more? contact Lisa here
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