For more than 5000 years, people have cultivated flowers although there is no known reward for this costly behavior. With today's high-tech and fast-paced lifestyle taking its daily toll on our lives, experts advise exercise and other personal lifestyle changes to relieve stress. According to behavioral research conducted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, nature provides us with a simple way to improve emotional health - flowers. The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.
"What's most exciting about this study is that it challenges established scientific beliefs about how people can manage their day-to-day moods in a healthy and natural way," said Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Rutgers and lead researcher on the study.
A team of researchers explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction in a 10-month study of participants' behavioral and emotional responses to receiving flowers. The results show that flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods.
- Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness. All study participants expressed "true" or "excited" smiles upon receiving flowers, demonstrating extraordinary delight and gratitude. This reaction was universal, occurring in all age groups.
- Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. Specifically, study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.
- Flowers make intimate connections. The presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends.
"Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy," said Dr. Haviland-Jones. "Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well being."
The study also explored where in their homes people display flowers. The arrangements were placed in areas of the home that are open to visitors - such as foyers, living rooms and dining rooms - suggesting that flowers are a symbol for sharing.
"Flowers bring about positive emotional feelings in those who enter a room," said Dr. Haviland-Jones. "They make the space more welcoming and create a sharing atmosphere."