Garden Your Mind

There is a saying, “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds”.

We can tend our minds, just as we tend our gardens, but instead of growing carrots or tomatoes, we grow our brains (or the synaptic connections between neurons to be more specific!).

For many people, the brain is a mystery. For years it was assumed that intelligence was just something people were born with – that it was fixed. What new research shows is that the brain is more like a muscle – it gets stronger when you use it and it grows when you learn. Here is a great article from Mindset Works if you want to learn more about the science.

When Carol Dweck and her colleagues studied students’ attitudes about failure over 30 years ago, they noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by small setbacks. Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset. When a student has a growth mindset, they understand that their intelligence and abilities could grow through practice, hard work and determination. A fixed mindset is the notion that intelligence is fixed and that it, along with talent, alone lead to success. With a fixed mindset, you believe you were either born with it, or you were not.

A garden is a great place to cultivate growth mindset in your students and is a fantastic metaphor for our minds. At Little Green Thumbs, we believe garden is a verb not a noun and that it’s the process of gardening that is most important and rewarding.

 Tending our Garden Minds:

  • In our gardens, we must plant the right seeds. Remember, ‘your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds – you can plant flowers or you can plant weeds’. The choice is ours!
  • Those weeds in our garden? They are negative thoughts that have taken root! If we do not regularly weed our garden, what we water will grow.
  • We can’t always control what seeds fall in our garden, but we can choose which to water with our attention. Just like a garden, your mind needs daily attention, and it’s your choice where to direct it.
  • When we make mistakes, it is like fertilizer for our minds. Challenges help our brain to grow!
  • Remember, all plants grow on their own time. We can’t force plants to grow, but we can create the best conditions for growth. We must be kind and patient with ourselves while we learn and grow. We don’t bloom overnight!
  • There are sunny days and rainy days – we can weather the storm. Sometimes learning and failing are so hard that they are almost unbearable, but if we persist we will grow stronger because of it!

Now, imagine if when a student failed, they thought, “Great, more fertilizer for my garden.” Imagine if students weeded their garden of negative thoughts and held patience for themselves as they grow. Remind your students regularly that their intelligence is not fixed. When things are difficult, their brain grows just like their garden –  as long as they don’t give up!

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