Extending the Community: Taking clues from nature

Nature often gives us clues to make the best for our lives.

Typically, we think of changes and improvements to habits as we welcome in the New Year on Jan. 1. About 50% of adults plan changes and make resolutions with only about 10% keeping the resolution. At that point, there is a decision to be made: Give up or try again another time.

Enter Spring. A time of renewal. Time to start over and prepare for re-growth. Nature does this naturally, so why do humans resist? I don’t have that answer.

But think about it. The trees are naturally beginning to develop buds that will become leaves. Perennial flowers start to grow and push away any leftover leaves from the fall. Some plants even start to grow by finding cracks in concrete. Yet, humans sometimes resist starting over.

I think it is time for us to take a lesson from nature and warm to the possibilities of change. On any given day, tomorrow or next week, make one change to enhance your personal growth. This does not need to be the biggest move ever. Just one new action to push through the rigid concrete habits you have been holding on to. An extra glass of water. One fruit extra per day. Saying hello to person you see in line when you get your morning coffee. You decide what move you will make. For adults, this can be difficult since we have spent so much time on our habits.

Why not enlist the help of a child or teen? You can help them develop positive behaviors to make a change all while helping yourself learn and practice the same behaviors. Imagine if we teach the children in our lives to accept and work on change to better themselves; they will become more confident, be better leaders and, essentially, the world can become a better place.

What happens when you make a mistake in the process? I like to bring in the “RE.” According to Merriam-Webster, re is defined as: again, anew. You can pick the RE that works for you at any given time.

RE-focus: If you are making a change and you miss a beat and goof up, no problem. Stop, take a few minutes, forgive yourself for a little mess up, and start again.

RE-evaluate: Adults and children often have a change in activities and schedules each season. Take the time to take another look at your schedule. Make a new plan for activities. Write it down to remind everyone. Most importantly, if there is something that does not bring you joy, give it up!

RE-start: You can begin and begin again, and again. You are the only judge of your progress. Give yourself a break and begin again.

RE-do: You tried something and don’t like how it turned out? Give yourself a do-over. Edit your work. Reflect on what went well and what can be done better and give it another go. No one becomes an expert at something on the first try.

RE-charge: Change and new habits can be hard to accomplish. Taking time to reward yourself for small accomplishments will help you reach your goal. It’s just as important to take time when you are frustrated to get your energy up to continue work on your goal.

Change does not happen instantly. Caterpillars do not become butterflies overnight. Seeds need time, water and warm temperatures in order to sprout.

Be patient with yourself and teach children to be patient and resilient while helping them learn to make changes. I like to remember what Deepak Chopra says about change, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.”

Sandi Graham is the Penn State Extension 4-H Educator in Lackawanna County. Penn State Extension is dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses and communities. They partner with and are funded by federal, state and county governments. For more information on what they’re doing in Lackawanna County, visit extension.psu.edu/lackawanna-county.