Learn, adapt, grow, and repeat
Trees are solid, beautiful, and whimsical. They sway and bend in the wind, always standing strong in the face of adversity.
Humans are like a tree: Beautiful, full of life, and resilient.
I am only thirty-five years-old but I am an old soul. I had an amazing childhood (thanks ma and daddy) but I have weathered many storms later in life.
From domestic abuse to chronic illness, these life experiences have made me who I am today. Who am I? I’m not completely sure, but I know I’m on my way to finding out the answer to this question.
I told my therapist yesterday that I felt like thin glass that would break after my recent diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
She told me I was one of the strongest women she had encountered in her life. I was shocked.
I always feel weak and this amazing woman thought I was not only strong but one of the strongest people she knows.
This is a reminder that how we see ourselves is very different from how others see us.
If you feel weak because of adversity remember: There is someone watching you who thinks you are the strongest person they have ever known.
Trees are at the mercy of the world and yet they stand tall and proud: You should too.
Focus your personal growth in one area at a time
The different parts of a tree grow at different times throughout the year.
Typically, most of their foliage growth happens in the spring, followed by trunk growth in the summer, and then root growth in the fall and winter.
Trees are just like us: They grow in different areas, at different points in their lives.
Sometimes we need to strengthen our minds by reading and learning.
Other times we have to work on our emotional growth and a life transition comes along with this growth.
Then we have our physical bodies and they always need work. At least mine does.
Trees teach us to focus on one area at a time so we don’t become overwhelmed and explode like the leaves of a tree do when a strong gust of wind carries them away.
Absorb knowledge from your elders
Trees are resilient but they help each other become powerful.
“Mother trees” are the oldest trees in the network and they share fungi with hundreds of seedlings.
Someone who is older and wiser and can teach us a lot about life.
Most of us don’t want to listen to someone with views that are different from our own. People from different generations typically have different outlooks.
This does not mean they are not wise.
While living and learning is a great way to learn about life, listening to the experiences of an older mentor is just as important.
If you do not have an elder in your life, adopt one! The elderly man who sits alone at the coffee shop, the lonely old lady who is one door away from you, or the senior employee at your place of employment are all superb “elders of opportunity”.
They will enjoy the interaction and this union could be beneficial for both of you.
When I worked as a nursing assistant, my elderly clients taught me so much. However, teaching is a two-way street and we have to be open to learning or we won’t absorb what we are being taught.
Just like a tree, we should be absorbing the nutrients of wisdom our parents, grandparents, and older friends share with us.
Learning is one of the most important things we can do to enrich our lives.
Learning from the generations before us will nurture our personal growth.
Take your lemons and turn them into lemonade
Did you know that one tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces while driving 26,000 miles?
Then they turn this poison gas into a clean and life-sustaining resource.
When we get bad news or something terrible happens to us, we tend to internalize it. We let it fester and grow until we are consumed with negative emotions.
As a result, we end up riddled with depression and anxiety. We think life is kicking us in the groin but these experiences are a test of our character.
If we take these negative emotions and allow them to “bubble over“ without dealing with them, they will always find a way to surface in our lives.
I’ve seen friends and family destroy their relationships because of this.
What can we do to be more like our foliage-adorned friends?
We can deal with these negative emotions and experiences. We can give love back to the world.
Therapy is the best place to start. When I first started receiving counseling, I was not happy about it. However, therapy turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Actually it didn’t happen to me, I made it happen and you can too.
Therapy will help you deal with your negative thoughts, cope with new adversities, and turn your negative feelings into positive ones.
After this, you can give wisdom to the people around you and enrich their lives.
It’s a beautiful cycle.
Your bad experiences are the carbon and you’re the tree, taking in the negative and releasing good into the world.
Adapting to different environments isn’t easy but it’s worth it
Trees grow in many different areas and climates. They thrive no matter where they are.
I am lucky to have a lot of friends from all different walks of life. I have friends of all colors and many different belief systems.
I’m lucky to be one of those people who makes friends wherever I go.
My secret: It isn’t luck, it’s about adapting to different environments while always being yourself.
Being open to everyone can be challenging but this world is so beautiful because of the diversity of the human race.
Learn to ask questions about the people you meet. Don’t shy away from people you don’t understand, be eager to see where they are coming from.
Trees are loved universally because of what they do for us but also because they are always around.
It has been proven that the presence of trees in a neighborhood lowers the likelihood of violent crime in that area.
Not only are trees adaptable, but they are also always there for us: Protective and strong.
Trees have taught me to take the bad and turn it into good.
They have taught me to love and nurture my fellow humans and always be there when I’m needed.
They have taught me that personal growth is achieved by focusing on one area at a time so I don’t become overwhelmed by change.
They have taught me to never be too proud to ask my elders for their sagacious advice.
Then I will pass my wisdom onto the seedlings in my network.
Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics.