Are Generous Plant Lovers the Happiest People on Earth?

2018 WNPS Calendar

Giving Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Giving Tuesday may have come and gone, but opportunities to give abound this time of year. But why give? As Gretchen Reynolds points out in a recent New York Times article, "the scientific evidence that generosity is good for us has been scant, even as the benefits of selfishness are obvious."

However, in the same article she cites a study in which half the study subjects agreed to give money away (i.e., be generous) and the other half agreed to keep money for themselves (i.e., be selfish). Guess which group felt happier and better about themselves!

Greenery, Scenery, and Serenity

In a March 2016 New York Times article, Reynolds states that "a growing body of research shows that people who spend time outside in sunny, green and natural spaces tend to be happier and healthier than those who don't." Is it the exercise and fresh air? Or is it because of the green-ness of the surroundings?

She notes a Dutch study finds evidence to support that even just looking at pictures of trees can reduce stress. I think I knew that. Once, after an intensely urban trip to New York City, I latched on to a copy of Outside magazine at the airport and fixated on pictures of hiking trails, forests, and mountains.

Contributing, Shopping, Delighting

So, there's evidence that being generous makes people happy. And evidence that greenery makes people happy. You know what I think this adds up to? To be happy, we need to give and be around plants. And if we can give AND help others be around plants too, well, happiness X happiness is awaiting us!

In that spirit, here are five giving and gift suggestions:

  1. Make a difference. Donate to the Washington Native Plant Society because your support is vital to encourage new enthusiasts who will carry on the work of learning about and conserving native plants and habitats.
  2. Give a gift membership in the Washington Native Plant Society. It will make you and the recipient happy, and provide them with a year of pictures and prose in Douglasia.
  3. Pass along a 2018 Washington Native Plant Society calendar or three. At only $10.00 each, plus shipping, you will be ensuring a view of greenery for thirteen months!
  4. Celebrate the 125th anniversary of Louis F. Henderson's plant collecting trips across Washington with field trips of your own. Read (or re-read) about his adventures in Douglasia Occasional Paper Volume 8: A Centenary Survey of Plant Life in Washington State: Retracing the 1892 Collecting Trips of Louis F. Henderson.
  5. Send out notecards that communicate your caring with scenes of green.
  6. Can't make up your mind? Give the Gift of Green Membership: a combination of membership, calendar, notecards, and the latest print of Douglasia


I can already feel the lower cortisol levels and the greater activity in my brain's temporo-parietal junction and ventral striatum. I hope you do too.


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