The lesson of the buttercup and the snapdragon

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When people are compared to flowers it is either in reference to their beauty or their frail nature. To call someone a rose usually means they are stunning but there are other flowers that are called on to highlight someone’s weak resolve. Today we are all going through a difficult time where our very resolve is being tested. It may be surprising then that as we look for inspiration on how to get through this time, the flower is a worthy object.

Plants have been shown to grow in some tough conditions. In extreme weather where storms rage and winds howl you could expect that flowers will surely die. Yet most don’t. Somehow many plants seem to survive. 

We must remember that a flower has two real aims in life. One is to photosynthesize, which is to grow from sunlight. The second is to multiply and create more flowers, which is to be pollinated by bees. A bee can only pollinate a flower properly if the sexual organs and nectar tubes are aligned properly. If a flower gets a bent or broken stigma (the organ that should receive the pollen from the bee) then it can spell disaster for any future plant plans. 

Studies now show that plants are fully aware of this and are incredibly versatile at positioning broken or bent stigmas in the right way to still receive pollination from a bee. Flowers that fall under the category of bilaterally similar (meaning the two sides look-alike) have shown the best performance in correcting any accidents that happen, they are resilient. However, flowers that are radially symmetrical (meaning they are circular and identical from all angles) perform badly in this regard. 

That means that flowers with similar sides like the snapdragon or orchid are able to repair themselves. Studies have shown that they can move a broken stigma so that it is still in the correct position for bees. However, flowers like roses and buttercups usually fail to recover. 

The lesson here is not to be as fragile as a buttercup but to be as resilient as a snapdragon. Nature has many examples of resilience and we need them now more than ever. The lesson of the buttercup versus the snapdragon is much like the optimist versus the pessimist right now. 

If you are pessimistic about the future and how things will turn out then even if you are right you have not won. If you are optimistic then you may just get what you are expecting. While thinking positive things is not a magic formula and can’t change the course of the universe it can make small changes in your life that increase the possibility of a positive outcome. 

Positive people have been shown to be more successful, healthier, live longer, and happier. If you talk to a pessimist they often say that being positive is pointless as it just leads to disappointment but positive people rarely let disappointments set them back, they learn a lesson or understand what the cause was and move on. 

Today with so much uncertainty in the world no one knows what will happen or when normality will return but we have a very significant choice to make in how we choose to live our lives in the meantime. If we choose to be negative than the next few months will not be easy. If we choose to be positive then we can use this time to better ourselves, to comfort others, and to learn something.

Take the time you have been given and learn the lessons of the snapdragon and the buttercup. Be strong and resilient. Learn from your broken branches and forge ahead.