Small Acts Matter Most

Dear Reader:

Lately the garden has been calling me back again and again…As much as I have professed disliking raking…for the past several days I have been raking portions of the entire garden. It will take several more days…(I choose five sections to work on  and then stop…until the next day when I do the same ‘to do‘ list…just in a different area) to finish up.  And guess what… I loving it…and can hardly wait to get back out there and do some more!

It is something about using our hands that is very important in our lives…when I work in the garden pulling weeds and dead plants, raking up pine straw and leaves…I feel a sense of accomplishment. Even my brain seems happy that I am doing something with my hands and letting it rest too.

I am not just tapping on my IPhone or inside channel surfing/ staring at the television…but I am doing a small act of kindness for my plants who deserve a nice clean spot in which to grow. (And a great bonus benefit… I sleep better after working outside with my hands.)

Here are some areas I have raked to date…. there is an old oak tree right over the fountain and there must have been 3 to 4 inches of pine straw/leaves/sticks debris from over the winter in it and around it. Because of its location, there will always be a few leaves from the tree but the plants aren’t buried under it any more. (and the fountain isn’t stopped up any more!)

This whole side of the yard now is (almost) pine straw and leaf free…this took quite awhile.

…as well as this area.

Some of the following special “delights”…favorites of mine …I select to start  cleaning out first….Still others are on waiting list for their home improvements but they are are coming…maybe tomorrow?

Doodle…tomorrow’s section to clean out is…the azaleas you originally planted in the garden….Being by the fence on the other side…the pine straw has blown and  piled up there way too long…can hardly wait to see how good they are going to look when they are cleaned out…

I saw something interesting on CBS News about why using our hands make our heads happy…at least the brain inside our heads.

As of 2015, jobs requiring social and analytical skills — desk jobs — had increased 94% from 1980, while jobs requiring physical skills went up a mere 12%.

And that has Kelly Lambert (neuro-scientist) concerned: “We just sit there. And we press buttons. And you start to lose a sense of control over your environment.”

It is true…I can only spend so much time on the computer or IPhone and I suddenly feel tired, exhausted and I haven’t done anything…I have decided if I am going to feel tired…it is going to be because I did something physically not just mentally all day.

 Why do insults once hurled at us stick inside our skull, sometimes for decades? Why do some people have to work extra hard to ward off  depression?

The answer is, for the same reason political smear campaigns outpull positive ones. Nastiness just makes a bigger impact on our brains.

Unfortunately it is the way we were built and it helped out when this mechanism worked for us in ancient primitive times…in kill or be killed situations. So now the new challenge is how to overcome this built-in instinct and counter-balance it with good thoughts in today’s world.

One way (in this article “Our Brain’s Negative BiasPsychology Today) to do this is through small acts of kindness.

Researchers have come up with a magical formula to over-ride negativity in our thoughts…it is a 5- 1 ratio. We need to do five positive things each day to overcome one really negative experience. And they think five acts of kindness works better than any other process.

…”Other researchers have found the same results in other spheres of our life. It is the frequency of small positive acts that matters most, in a ratio of about five to one.

Occasional big positive experiences—say, a birthday bash—are nice. But they don’t make the necessary impact on our brain to override the tilt to negativity. It takes frequent small positive experiences to tip the scales toward happiness.

I have found the peace, tranquility, and happiness I need in my garden, using my hands to steer me, to overcome negativity in daily life. Every time I get upset over the constant terrible news in every media under the sun …I can go outside, talk with the neighbors about their beautiful yards and plants and then go work in mine…making it my sanctuary to stay positive and overcome the negatives of life. I can ‘let it go’ and ask God to handle these scary situations out of my control while I concentrate on what I can control by making the world a little more beautiful one rake, one plant, one tree at a time.

So until tomorrow…”To make the acquaintance of a tree is to gain the counsel of a wise and compassionate friend.” (And there is always room for more of these kinds of friends)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh







About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Small Acts Matter Most

  1. bcparkison says:

    Fresh air and “hand” work help to clean out the cobwebs of the mind. Not my blog friend Cobweb but the tangled up mess we have in our brain after a long winter of nothiness.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I always feel better when I get outside and inhale some fresh air to make me feel ‘brimming alive’ again…and that only happens outside…never inside.

      Liked by 1 person

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