Tag Archives: Flowers

Flower Power

Why You Should Stop And Smell The Roses

I was reading this essay the other day. One of those things where you start to read this, and the more you read, the more you get interested. But then when you finish reading this you aren’t really sure what you just read. Which is why I’m having trouble remembering now the exact topic this essay. It was kind of like that. I think it was about recycling or something.

Anyway, there was a section where it was talking about how flowers are good. That some scientific studies have shown that flowers actually elevate people’s moods, creating some chemical in the brain that is associated somehow with happiness and good moods. One of those chemicals that if you could sell to people you’d make a killing. I believe it is the same chemical that is a by-product of some narcotics. But with narcotics you get all these other horrible side effects, like physical addiction. When this chemical is naturally produced, it is not nearly as strong as injecting heroin, but it doesn’t have the addictive side effects.

It reminded me of this book on evolution I was reading. I believe the author was Steven Pinker. Evolution is much more complicated than most people think (including me.) There are several different overlapping systems that benefit as they grow and mutate over successive generations into better and more successful organisms. No organism evolves on it’s own. It is always dependent on how its new mutations interact with the environment, rather just how well it can exploit he environment.

Take bees for example. They take the nectar from the flowers, and in turn spread the pollen around, so the flowers can reproduce. It is a win/win scenario. The flowers get to make more flowers, and bees get food. Now if some generation of bees evolved some more efficient way of getting nectar from flowers, but they didn’t spread the pollen, it’s success would be short lived. Say for example, instead of going from flower to flower, each bee just hit up one flower, took its nectar, and went back to the hive. Pretty soon there wouldn’t be any more flowers because they would suddenly have lost their reproductive abilities thanks to the greedy bees. So the bee’s ability to take nectar from flowers is dependent on their habit of spreading the pollen around. Of course the bee doesn’t look at itself in the mirror every morning and try to pump itself up with affirmations of how great it is to create win/win relationships. It just does its thing.

Nature is filled with examples like this. Seemingly selfish behavior that somehow benefits various different species through their interaction.

Which brings me back to the flowers. Why do they make us feel so good? Why do numerous studies show that patients in hospital rooms recover quicker when their rooms are filled with flowers?

A botanist will tell you that wild flowers often grow in conjunction with edible fruit. If not on the same plant, at the very least in the same area. The existence of wild flowers also show evidence of water being around someplace.

Some imagine a couple of different tribes of people, wandering around couple hundred thousand years ago. One group had this peculiar reaction to flowers. They liked looking at them. They liked the smell. So what happened when they were out wandering around and saw a patch of wildflowers? They went to take a closer look. And the likely saw a stream or several fruit bearing trees. What a discovery. Sweet tasting food and plenty of water.

Now consider the other wandering tribe. They didn’t particularly care one way or the other at the sight or the smell of flowers. So when they saw a patch of wildflowers, or a meadow filled with wildflowers off in the distance, they ignored it, and kept looking for something to kill. Sometimes they found something sometime they didn’t

Now which group do you think would produce more people over time? The group that had a built in response that allowed them to find free food and water? Or the group that didn’t?

They group that stopped at patches of flowers, and subsequently found more food and water that was pretty safe to eat (compared to the other group that was always running after zebras) had lots of time on their hands. And I don’t think I need to tell you what primitive people would likely decide to do when they were hanging out in a place surrounded by water, sweet food, and pretty flowers.

Make more people.

So it’s easy to see that the group that had a natural inclination to enjoy flowers, both the sight and the smell, quickly out populated the group that didn’t. It may also explain (one explanation among many I suspect) why having color vision is much better than black and white.

And just like the bees helped out the flowers by spreading their pollen, these primitive peoples helped out the fruit trees by spreading the seeds through their waste. The more people ate fruit, the more the particular tree spread.

So when you hear the old saying “stop and smell the roses,” you now know that it has much deeper meaning that just to goof off and enjoy yourself. It is proof that mother nature, God, or whoever, has equipped us with various built in strategies that make us feel good when going after something that is actually beneficial to our survival.

So go out and have some fun. Enjoy yourself. Mother Nature wants you to.

Powering Flowers can lead to Startling Realizations

Once there was a lady that owned a flower shop. She had opened the flower shop several years ago, and after the inevitable rough start up times that many small business face, she started to eke out a profit. Within a year she had realized one of her life long dreams. Ever since she was a little girl, she had dreamed of owning a small flower shop. Buying the flowers from the distributors, arranging them, selling them to people knowing that they would in turn give them to others to increase pleasure and happiness. This was probably her greatest reward, knowing that she was supplying people with something that they used to make others feel good.

After a few years, she started to notice that her sales, and her customer base were fairly consistent. After the first couple of years where moved out of the red and started to make a profit, her profits slowly increased every year, until recently. In the past three or four years, her profits had been almost exactly the same. She started seeing the same customers come into her shop, and she noticed she was selling the same arrangements to the same people during the same times of year.

Even valentines day she noticed the same people come in, that she usually only saw once per year, and by a dozen roses or some other traditional arrangement. Her original satisfaction that she had enjoyed when she started to make money was starting to grow into a complacency that she hadn’t expected. It wasn’t long before she saw her dream turn into another routine that she did on a daily basis. Gone were the times when she was able to generate good feelings as she headed into she shop every morning. More and more often, she would wake up sometimes with a feeling of just another day at work.

She started to notice this attitude among her customers as well. She wasn’t sure if it was she that was affecting them, or they affecting her. It was like everybody was trapped in a routine that they couldn’t’ escape from. Pretty soon the flowers themselves stopped looking so pretty, and began to take on a mundane everyday part of the background feeling to them.

She didn’t’ really notice this, as things like this usually sneak up on you slowly, and before you know it, something that was exciting is suddenly normal and you feel like you’ve always been doing this. You don’t really want to stop, because you’ve been doing it for so long, and it seems that the only that is really keeping you going is inertial. It’s like you are in some kind of a daze, doing the same things over and over again without any real feeling to them.

Then something terrible happened. Her neighbor’s daughter was hit by a car. She was rushed to the hospital and into surgery for three hours. After a long horrible wait, the doctors said she would be fine. It was close though. Her parents were obviously relieved. The flower shop lady decided to visit this little girl in the hospital, as she always exchanged a few words with her on the way to work.

What she saw in the hospital shocked her beyond belief. She had never been in a hospital. She was lucky enough to never have been sick, and although she was happily married, she didn’t have any children. What she saw was the abundance of flowers in the hospital. And she saw looks of happiness on people’s face that she had never seen before in her flower shop. When she visited the little girls room, she couldn’t help but to burst into tears at what happened. The little girls room was filled with flowers bought for the little girl by all of the neighbors. All from the lady’s flower shop. She didn’t notice this at first, but when she walked in, the little girl, who was still recovering from a painful three-hour surgery, beamed at her.

“Look at all your flowers! Did you know you had so many pretty flowers?”

And she did know, and she did notice. And she never forgot.

The Tulip Save

Once upon a time there was a family. They were a normal, modern family with normal, modern family problems. They had two kids, and the father worked as an account executive in a large advertising firm. Because of the recent economic problems, the father’s company was experiencing problems, and so his company wasn’t paying out big bonuses like they normally did. When the father joined the company several years a go, he opted for payment plan B. Which at the time was great. Only now it wasn’t so great, because a large part of his salary was based on bonuses.

So of course the family was struggling. The wife had a small flower stand that she worked several days a week. It wasn’t a full-blown shop; it was just big enough to store a few dozen different flowers to catch the attention of people as they drove by to and from work. You know how when you are just going along and minding your own business, and then you see something that captures your interest, and you think to yourself you have to take a look at this? It was like that. It was more of a hobby than anything else. She just made enough to pay her rent and the expenses. She never really had any expectations of making a living selling flowers. Which was fine with her, because she enjoyed raising her children and making sure they did well in school and stayed out of trouble.

She was also fairly lucky in that her grandfather had owned a large farm. Her grandfather had passed away several years ago, and they had inherited the land. Because the family wasn’t very interested in continuing the farm, they let the land go. It was only a couple acres just on the outside of town. Fortunately, the land produced many wildflowers that she sold in her shop. Her shop was known around town as a shop that sold wildflowers and other things like that. The kind of people that shopped there were a unique brand of people. They usually bought flowers for other than main flower buying reasons. Usually just to give to somebody for some spontaneous reason, and not a rose for Valentines Day or any other socially required gift.

But then one summer, the flowers on her farm started changing. They were only wildflowers, and they grew naturally, so she really had no idea what was happening. She had a friend who knew about these things and they investigated for her, and determined that there was a particular strain of a plant disease that had infected her flowers. Her source of her hobby was at risk.

She went home, and was surprised how depressed this had made her. She had always thought of selling flowers as nothing more than a hobby, so she never really gave it much thought to how it affected her personally. But when her hobby was threatened, she noticed how much pleasure she received when she sold somebody a flower, who in turn was going to give it to somebody else. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do.

When she arrived home, she was in for another shock. Her husbands company had decided to discontinue their bonus plan altogether. And despite efforts to reorganize the pay structure so it wouldn’t be so bad, the family was going to take substantial financial hit. The kids had just entered high school, and they were not completely unsure of their futures. They all sat up late at night after dinner, discussing how they could handle the impending financial crisis. Nobody could come up with an idea that didn’t involve them selling their nice house and moving into a cheaper one, and having to choose a less expensive college for the kids.

The next day at work, something incredibly fortuitous happened. A stranger came up to the flower shop, and brought some flowers that the woman had never seen before. They were beautiful, with a swirl of colors she never thought was possible outside of a painter’s studio. The man was just curious, as he had picked them on a drive in from outside of town. When he saw the shop, he’d decided to ask her about them, merely out of curiosity. She was amazed when he told her where he’d picked them.

When she arrived at her grandfather’s farm, with her friend, they saw hundreds of flowers just like the stranger had brought in. The “disease” had somehow changed the flowers into the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. She gathered a couple dozen, and brought them back to her shop. They sold out within an hour, and the news of the unique flowers quickly spread. They repeated this, until fully half the wildflowers from her grandfathers farm had been sold. Her friend determined an easy way to repeatedly grow the same flowers, with the same colors. Pretty soon people were driving hours from all over to buy these strangely colored flowers. She made more money selling flowers than she’d ever thought possible.

Experts from a nearby University came to test the soil of her grandfathers farm, and said it was a unique blend of minerals they’d never thought about before, that might potentially have limitless medical applications. They government leased her grandfathers property from her, in a hundred year lease, for an enormous price. Her husband was able to quit his job, and help her in the flower shop. Because of the income from the government lease, they never had to worry about money again.

Something that they had that they thought was only a source for a passing hobby turned into a magnificent source of income for a lifetime, for reasons they never would have expected.

There is Magic Inside

I was walking down the street yesterday, minding my own business, like I normally do. Well, almost normally. Most of the time at least. And I passed by this very small flower shop. It was a flower shop that I had passed by several times before. I don’t know what it was that caused me to go inside. I certainly didn’t want to buy any flowers, as I wasn’t going anywhere that warranted a gift of flowers to anyone.

The first thing that struck me was just how large the flower shop seemed on the inside. From the outside, it looked like a small shop that could only hold maybe a few dozen arrangements. The front of the store was not that large, and on either side were rather looking storefronts, so you would never imagine what you could find inside until you really look. The first thing I was reminded of is the scene in Harry Potter (book four or five, I can’t remember) when he went to watch the world Quiddich Cup, and he went inside a tent set up by the Weasley’s. It was small on the outside, but enormous and filled with magic on the inside. That’s what this flower shop was like.

Inside were incredible arrangements of flowers I’d never even seen before. The colors were tantalizingly fantastic, and the way the proprietor had arranged them was absolutely breathtaking. I won’t even begin to try and describe it, because one, I only know the vocabulary of about six colors, and two, I only know the names of maybe three flowers. Bu suffice it to say that as soon as I went inside that shop, I started racking my brains for a reason to buy an arrangement or two and a reason to give them to somebody.

I started talking to the proprietor of the place. She had been in business for about ten years, all in the same shop. She had done several renovations to maximize the small space she had to work with, and the results spoke for themselves. She had originally been a high level executive assistant, pulling close to six figures a year (and that was over ten years ago,) but something about her job was less than satisfying. She wasn’t able to find happiness answering the needs of others. She was well respected, well liked, had enjoyed several promotions over the course of her career, but something was missing. She wasn’t able to choose her own direction.

So she looked around and found the flower shop for sale. She had always had a penchant for arranging things. But up until then, she had always been arranging things according to the criteria of other people. Like when you’ve had enough, and you need to choose things that are important to you. You feel a need to set your own course, and not have to follow the orders of others. You need to be yourself, whatever that may be. And she found it in this shop.

She said that at first the money was less than a quarter than she made before, but really enjoyed it. She could find ways to express her creativity in a way that gave her that special kind of satisfaction that you get when you do things your own way.

And of course, as time went on, and her shop became more and more successful, she started to earn more money than she did before. And not only that, but she is now able to set her own hours, choose her own arrangements, and feel really proud of her work.  Something she suspects never would have been possible before.

It’s kind of nice knowing that there are still people like this to model yourself after.