Happiness and good health can start with flowers. According to a behavioral study by Rutgers University in 2005 and others by Harvard and Texas A & M universities, the presence of flowers can bring immediate and lasting positive effects. Some might see it as old fashioned, but it might be the best way to make your Valentine’s Day come up roses.
Researchers from Rutgers studied first how women responded when given flowers, then how both men and women reacted when receiving a flower in an elevator. Finally, they studied members of different retirement communities when flowers were present in their homes.
The 10-month study found that all – regardless of gender, age or ethnic group – who were presented with flowers conveyed genuine smiles and gratitude for what they had received.
People also said the moods were lifted with flowers around. They reported feeling happier, less nervous and had a greater sense of enjoyment in general after receiving flowers, even creating more social interaction. Men, in fact, were noted to also have better eye contact during conversation and stand closer to the people who interviewed them. With seniors, there was also improvement in episodic memory.
About 81 percent of seniors in the study said they were less depressed, while 40 percent said they were more social, expanding the circle of people they interacted with beyond immediate family and friends. And 72 percent of the seniors in the study scored very high on memory tests compared to those who didn’t receive flowers.
The positive mood lasted as well. Some participants in the study were given fruit baskets or large candles and only those who received flowers reported a sustained positive mood. Participants later reported the placement of their flowers in communal spaces, either in their office or home, invited some level of social interaction about them.
A separate study by Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital backed up the Rutgers finding about people having a lighter mood for days when flowers were present in their home. A mood that also carried over into their workplace.
In the presence of flowers at home, people also demonstrated greater kindness and compassion toward others.
Speaking of the workplace, a Texas A & M University study conducted over an eight-month period found that workers generated greater creativity, innovation and problem solving in a work environment that included flowers and plants, than those whose work environments included only statues or no plants or flowers at all. Men had 15 percent more ideas and women formed more creative and flexible solutions to problems.
In the Rutgers study, giving flowers determined how the giver was perceived. Men and women were both seen as cheerful, able and bold. They were also seen as being more emotionally intelligent and better able to show their feelings and interpret the feelings of others. Women who gave flowers were seen as more admiring of nature and beauty.
That seems good news for those eager to make a good impression – or more – on Valentine’s Day, but even better news for those looking for simple, little ways to make every day better.