Wellbeing and the Garden of the Heart

Self care
17 Jul 2023

I sing all the time. There is a constant soundtrack to my life. Often, those who don’t really know me mistake this for ‘happiness’. However, I sing when I’m sad and when I’m happy. Singing is within me – deep in my heart – and out of my heart it flows regardless of my mental or material state… or tunefulness!

This thought leads me to think of the roots of one of our favourite words, “Wellbeing.” The literal etymology of ‘well-being’ is exactly what we may suppose: a fusion of ‘well’ and ‘being’ – i.e., being in a state of well-ness. However, the tiniest bit of research leads to its Italian counterpart and a word that was used before the English: “benessere.”

‘Benessere’ has both a mental and material sense. In terms of mood or mindset, it means ‘wellness’ as well as ‘wellbeing’. In the material sense, it means ‘affluence’ and ‘wealth’.

But what if I were to take ‘poetic licence’ and suppose instead that we are using ‘well’ as in a hole dug down into the depths to gather refreshing water? In this case ‘wellbeing’ - like my heartsong - would be the place from out of which flows refreshment (though also bitterness, for not all wells provide pure water.) If this were the case, we would do well to watch what we allow into our hearts.

On holiday last week, we visited Lacock – which many claim was the birthplace of replicable photography. Outside the garden shop was a quote on a blackboard. For me, this expresses perfectly how I understand the wellspring that percolates up from the heart. It says, “Your mind is like a garden, what you plant will grow. Fill your life with flowers, and choose happy thoughts to sow.” (Janine Drayson)

Of course, this says, ‘mind’ and not ‘heart’, and yet I’m sure you’ll agree. What we sow in our hearts grows… and eventually bears fruit. Over many discussions on holiday, we remarked on how powerful upbringing (the seeds sown early on) affect and influence how people think, feel, and behave later in life. This takes me back to another favourite, “When is the best time to plant a tree?”  The answer is at least 20 years ago, and that the second best time is today. If we were to sow thoughts into our hearts today – thoughts that may take years to grow and bear fruit, what thoughts would you choose to produce wellbeing?


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