Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Nature’s Lessons for a Troubled Mind: Finding Clarity Amidst Chaos

Modern life throws so much at us that we often lose sight of what matters. We worry about work, money, health, looks, love, status, safety, success, normality, legacy, and on, and on. If things get dire enough, our thoughts become low, repetitive and incapable of separating the useful from the useless.

We’ve effectively gone mad.

To alleviate our madness and get back our sanity and sense of direction, it helps to turn to nature. Walking outside, or if we’re blessed with a good view, staring out of our window can pacify our minds in minutes.

An old tree or weathered fence teaches us patience. The gnarled bark or sun-beaten pickets have endured dozens of seasons. They’ve been gnawed at by beetles, knocked crooked by autumn winds, and ravaged by lichens and moss. But they endure.

The clouds teach us that all things pass. They drift by over our heads without the slightest interest in what happens down below. Always up to something, they puff up, stretch out, twist around, and float across the sky without stopping. It reminds us that our moods and worries are fleeting too.

A dandelion or daisy teaches us to appreciate simple pleasure. All those flowers, gleaming in the summer sun. Soon they’ll be gone. And we’re no less fragile. It we don’t learn to pay attention to the little things now, we might not get a chance before we’re gone. Cherish everyday joys, says the bright yellow buttercup.

And running water teaches us to make room for the new. Although not as vibrant as a bubbling stream in a forest, the water in our modern canals and ditches is active too. Unlike a motionless desk or file cabinet, water stays unpredictable enough to hold our attention. Waves slosh up at the brick canal banks, leaves, twigs and ducks float along the current, and tiny water striders glide across the surface. Even when it rests, water distorts and reflects. This ever-changing view flushes out our worries and stale ideas to clear the way for fresh perspectives.

In short, nature shows us that we don’t always have to be striving.

And interestingly, our mind is often the sharpest at times when we stop achieving and focus on existing. Even a few minutes are enough to snap our attention to what matters.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach