Happiness and Flowers

Did you know that flowers can actually make you happy.  Seeing their bright colors, smelling their pleasing scents, and touching their soft blooms can actually change your mood.  In fact, people actually use flowers as a way of combatting stress.

You’ve probably heard many people say how happy they were to receive flowers or that they just love the sight of fresh flowers in their home.  But why?  Why is it that flowers seem to make people happy all the time?  As surprising as it may be, there truly is some scientific proof that flowers can make us happy!  A study by the State University of New Jersey shows that the saying “stop and smell the roses” actually has some real meaning behind it.

According to the study, flowers can trigger happy emotions.  For ten months, the team studied the emotional and behavioral responses of people who received flowers.  From their reactions, the researchers drew several conclusions.  First, flowers can have an immediate impact on our happiness.  When the people received flowers, they smiled and were genuinely happy to get the flowers.  But flowers do more than make us momentarily happy.  The study also showed that the participants tended to feel happy over a number of days, especially when they saw the flowers.

Participants also reported feeling less lonely even after the flowers had wilted and were gone.  This is because receiving the flowers helped them to make connections with other people.  Receiving flowers says that someone is thinking of you, and that can mean the world.

There you have it—scientific proof that flowers can change your mood.  Next time you know someone needs a little pick-me-up, send them a great arrangement of flowers in Washington, DC.  You’ll make them happy for days and forge a stronger relationship with them as well.

Memories of Woodstock

Peace, Love & Flower Power
Peace, Love & Flower Power

The 40th anniversary of Woodstock has sparked a renewed interest in hippie culture, tie dye, rock and roll, and flower power.

The Woodstock Festival was a music festival, billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, held at Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969.

During the sometimes rainy weekend, thirty-two acts performed outdoors in front of 400,000 concert-goers. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most pivotal moments in popular music history and was listed on Rolling Stone’s 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.

One happy memory of Woodstock include a girl wearing flowers in her hair, peace sign earrings, a shirt with a peace sign and sunglasses with heart-shaped lenses.  There are countless memories of Woodstock to draw from:

“We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn… …there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies… all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.

And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: a quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, “Don’t worry about it John. We’re with you.” I played the rest of the show for that guy.”

— John Fogerty regarding Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 3 a.m. start time at Woodstock.

Don’t forget to check out the new movie, Taking Woodstock.

Here’s to flower power!

Woodstock Wikipedia

Flowers Make Us Happy

Fragrant Hyacinth
Fragrant Hyacinth

Enjoying spring flowers? Flowers have flourished – their beauty evolving over time  – simply because we like them, says Terry McGuire, associate professor of genetics at Rutgers and co-author of a paper that examines for the first time the whys and wherefores of flowering plants in an evolutionary context.

While flowers originally came on the scene to attract potential pollinators like bugs and birds, it is their appeal to humans that accounts for the incredible variety of shapes and colors we see in domesticated flowers today. McGuire suggests that nature’s prettier flowers got to survive and thrive because people didn’t destroy them when they cleared land for agriculture. Instead, they cultivated them and have been doing so for more than 5,000 years.

Ironically, many domesticated flowers have been so selected by humans that nature’s pollinators – the bugs and birds – no longer find them attractive. So the job of propagating the species depends mainly on us.

A recent article in the journal “Evolutionary Psychology” by McGuire; Jeannette Haviland-Jones, a professor of psychology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; and others, states that in spite of some basic survival uses such as edible or medicinal flowers, most flowering plants grown in the flower industry today are not used for any purpose other than emotional satisfaction.

“Our hypothesis is that flowers are exploiting an emotional niche. They make us happy,” McGuire says. “Because they are a source of pleasure – a positive emotion inducer – we take care of them. In that sense they’re like dogs. They are the pets of the plant world.”

Psychologist Haviland-Jones had conducted three studies that tested the ability of flowers to induce positive emotion. The objective was to demonstrate the immediate, long-term and powerful effects of flowers on emotional reactions, mood, social behaviors and even memory in both men and women. The results of these three studies were so positive that the researchers went on to develop the evolutionary emotional niche model.

In the first study, flowers were tested against other gift stimuli, such as a fruit and sweets basket and a large decorative candle. Of the 147 women tested, all those who received flowers responded with a smile; however, there were no smiles from 23 percent of those who got received candles and 10 percent of those who got fruit. The second study involved 122 subjects of both sexes in an elevator. When a person entered, he or she either received a flower, a pen or nothing at all. Again, flowers were the emotional winner with recipients smiling, chatting and standing closer together.

In the last study, florists delivered bouquets to 113 men and women in a retirement community – an environment in which memory is often a personal concern.  All 113 got flowers, some at the beginning of the study with a follow-up bouquet a few days later, some only on the second round and others after the study. Everyone also received a decorative booklet for note-taking.

As might be predicted, the one-bouquet group was happier – more smiles and less observed depression -than those left for last; the two-bouquet folks were happier still. The most profound results appeared when participants were tested for detailed recall of the flowers, booklet decorations and book entries. Flower power again triumphed: Those who received the most and the earliest flowers demonstrated the best memory.

“Flowers have been ignored for the most part in the literature on plants and people,” McGuire says. “Perhaps they have been overlooked because their nature and beauty is so obvious.”

Source: Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey & Bio-Medicine.org