Other names for this month have existed, however. The Old Dutch name for August was “Oostmaand” (harvest-month); the old Saxon, “Weod-monath” (weed-month, where “weed” signified vegetation in general).
As a gardener, I witness the yearly August-inian vegetative flourish. All growing things seem to make their last and most exhaustive push to be bigger, “bloom-ier” and more robust. Great news for those who fill gathering baskets from our bounteous flower beds and vegetable gardens. Not so good news for those of us who must also pull weeds.
Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, summer’s last month spurs on all green things – the wanted and unwanted; the beauties and the burrs. In anticipation of this phenomenon, wise gardeners employ mulch, garden cloth and other weed-suppressants. Even if we are not gardeners, we can employ positivity to get out of our own “weeds”.
Positivity, as researched and described by Barbara Fredrickson, is an analogous mental and emotional process. Humans are wired to find what’s wrong – it’s an adaptive survival trait. We look for the weeds, by default. Over time, negativity pulls us down - we may completely miss the flowers. How can we re-balance?
Fredrickson suggests a ratio of 3:1. Three positive emotions are required to counter-act one negative emotion. We can build our positivity through simple mental postures such as openness, curiosity, kindness and appreciation. And, by being real - by acknowledging negative emotions when they arise. When they do, it’s possible to make a choice to stop complaining about what’s wrong, and start seeing what’s possible.
Another easily adopted solution: gratitude. Stop and ask – “what’s going well right now”; “what blessings and benefits do I have?”
All of this is supported by Mindfulness practices. In order to take action to re-balance our positivity ratio, we need to notice when we are living in the negative. And, then, make a choice to get out of the weeds.