Pretty, Scented Flowers Improve a Bad Mood and Promote Wellness
People use flowers for all kinds of things, from birthdays to weddings to funerals. Flowers signify important events and offer a calming effect, as well as help individuals achieve better moods. Humans and flowers are the most evolved members of their kingdoms, Animalia and Plantae, respectively. Now research studies note that flowers support happiness and increase social togetherness.
How Flowers Evolved with Humans
The earliest evidence of a flowering plant is a fossil from China; it is about 125 million years old and scientists believe it was a water plant. Experts say flowers developed to attract animals that would aid in plants’ reproduction. One theory is that flowers developed on an island, forging a special relationship with an animal, like a wasp, which spread pollen, used to make seeds, when going from flower to flower.
Flowers are adaptations of plants’ leaves. Many flowers grown today started out as weeds and the assumption is that early humans did not disturb the prettiest flowers in their gardens; flowers were reseeded and humans became attached to them. Today’s important pollinators, bees, are descended from wasps and interestingly, have color vision.
Receiving Flowers Brings Pleasure and Increases Sociability
In a small study appearing in Evolutionary Psychology in 2005, Rutgers University researchers found that 100 percent of women smiled with a Duchenne smile after receiving a mixed bouquet of flowers. A Duchenne smile, first named by a French physician, involves use of muscles at the corner of the mouth and by the eyes; it signifies genuine, positive emotions.
Control groups received either a fruit basket or a large candle. Ninety percent of the fruit-receivers used a real smile and only 77 percent of candle-receivers smiled with a Duchenne smile. In addition, only those who received flowers reported a lasting, positive mood days later.
In an elevator study carried out by the same researchers, men or women alone in an elevator with two experimenters were presented with a large Gerber daisy, a pen or nothing. The researchers derived a total social score (TSS) by recording the type of smile, initiated talk (other than a thanks), and standing distance from the experimenters (usually strangers in an elevator retreat to opposite corners). The results showed that both men and women had higher TSS scores when receiving the Gerber daisy as compared to the pen-receivers and those who got nothing.
Living with Flowers Improves Attitudes at Home and Work
A Harvard University study, reported in 2006, found that living with flowers in the home – displaying bouquets in the most-used rooms – perked up moods in less than a week. The study, in cooperation with the Society of American Florists and the Flower Promotion Organization, discovered that people had their good moods transferred to work, and they had more compassion for their fellow beings.
Just as insects are attracted to a flower’s scent, humans have positive emotional ties with fragrant flowers. It is no accident that sensational-smelling red roses are the symbol of love. In addition, the phrase “stop and smell the roses” signifies a traditional way of reducing stress. Researchers in Japan, in an animal study, found that flower scents suppressed about 100 genes usually turned on in stressful situations.
Flower Scents Reduce Stress
Seven to ten different oils in petunia and snapdragon petals make the flowers’ scents. Other flowers may have hundreds of different oils. These oils are referred to as volatile oils as they do not last long in hot weather. Curiously, flower breeders in their quest for beautiful colors and longevity in the cut-flower market, let flower fragrance fall by the wayside for a time.
Flowers Contribute to Happiness and Wellness
Increasing positive emotions can cut stress that leads to physical illnesses. Receiving flowers, placing flowers in the home, and smelling flower scents are all simple, yet powerful, ways to boost upbeat emotions. Stopping worry, improving mood, feeling pleasure, and adding socialization are all components of not only wellness, but of happiness.
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