Life Lessons from a Young Plant Dad

Image of four plants on a windowsill with light coming through the window.
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels

When I moved into my first apartment, I adopted a few houseplants to bring some life to my new home. Over time, my collection grew, and taking care of my plants became a grounding routine for me, one that has taught me a lot about how to care for myself and others. Here are just a few ways becoming a “plant dad” has helped me adopt a growth mindset.

RELATED: How I Channeled My Grief Into Creativity

Learning to adapt to different needs

Some houseplants need water every day to flourish, and some are content with a hefty drink just once a month. Every plant is different, and they all have different needs to blossom – just like people. If you put a plant that likes shade in the sun for too long, it could wilt, even though sunlight may be necessary for a different type of plant. 

Similarly, the people in my life have different emotional needs to thrive. When I am upset or overwhelmed, I need space and time to work through it and then I’m okay. However, I have good friends who need people they trust around them to help calm them down and other loved ones who just need someone to talk through a situation with. There is no “right way” to comfort people in distress. Learning to adapt to different plants’ physical needs has helped me be more aware of different people’s emotional needs. As a result, I have better cultivated my relationships by understanding how I can be there for my friends and family.

Developing patience and a long-haul approach

While growing plants, you can’t really measure progress on a day-to-day basis. Most things in life are like that, too. Just like it takes weeks or months for a flower to bloom or a new vine to grow from a cutting, it can take a while to develop new skills and healthy habits. One area in my life where this applies has been running consistently.

At the beginning of the year I was not in the best shape. When I first committed to running regularly, it felt like I wasn’t making any progress. I could barely push myself to run over a mile. However, caring for houseplants and keeping that long-term approach in mind has made me more patient as a runner. In the months since I started running consistently, I’ve worked up to completing longer runs that I could have only dreamed about a few months ago.

By drawing inspiration from cultivating a growing plant and channeling that into my running journey, I’m able to focus on consistently pushing myself to run as much as I can, even if it’s less than the last time I went out. Instead of fixating on my daily ups and downs, I treat my running progress like a houseplant: Water it consistently and even if it doesn’t look like it’s growing from day to day, over time it will continue to flourish. 

This mindset has allowed me to be gentle with myself when I face off days or have to call it quits early on a run and has helped me stay consistent with a long-term attitude that keeps me moving even when it feels like I’m not seeing the growth I wish I was.

RELATED: Earth-Friendly Decor to Make Your House Happy

Finding peace with what is out of your control

There was a heatwave this summer in my city while I was away, and when I returned home I found that quite a few of my plants were dead. The heat had overwhelmed them and without me around to give them water, they simply dried up. It was a tough moment for me as a budding plant dad, and I felt like I had failed to care for the living beings that relied on me. 

However, as I reflected on that disappointment, I realized that this challenging time offered a lesson in finding peace with what we can and cannot control. I gave my plants plenty of water and moved them to shadier parts of the apartment to protect them from overexposure to the sun, but it simply wasn’t enough to save some of the less hardy ones. I did everything I could to take care of them. It wasn’t helpful to obsess over the weather, which was out of my control. 

I’ve been in similar situations in life, where a group project or collaboration hasn’t gone well despite my best efforts because other people didn’t deliver. It can be exasperating, but learning to face my frustration and ask myself whether it was worth dwelling on has helped me stay focused on what I can control. By working on being the best I can be, I have put more energy into things that are worthwhile than I would have if I stayed upset about situations I can’t help.

There are so many reasons to adopt houseplants. They spruce up a living space and give you a low-stress routine to keep you grounded. And who knows, they may even teach you a few life lessons along the way.

Content Survey (Inline)

We want to know what you think!