Science Reveals: A proven way to increase energy, optimism, and zest for life

Updated: June 10, 2022

Summer and happiness. What could be a more natural fit than the freedom of summer and the feeling of happiness? These two words are meant for each other. Unfortunately, for those of us with bills to pay, summer can mean hustle and stress like any other time of year. Perhaps even a bit more grumpiness because we really want to be out enjoying summer like a little kid. (Can I have another popsicle? And where did I put my pool floatie?).


Fortunately, there are steps we can take to boost our happiness even while adulting. Continue reading to learn a proven way to increase life satisfaction, 365 days of the year. And download the free Hortiki Plants Guide to Cultivate Zest for Life.


How to Increase Engergy, Optimism, and Zest for Life

The Study

Today's study is from the journal HortScience. "The Influence of Gardening Activities on Consumer Perceptions of Life Satisfaction". In this study, authors, Waliczek, Zajicek, and Lineberger examined how gardening impacts levels of life satisfaction. They used a popular survey tool created in 1961 that is considered scientifically valid because it provides consistent results across many different groups and types of studies. This survey tool, the Life Satisfaction Index, measures psychological well-being.

The survey measures well-being in areas such as “zest for life, resolution and fortitude, congruence between desired goals and achieved goals, physical, psychological, and social self-concept, and optimism” (Waliczek, Zajicek, and Lineberger, 2005).

  • Zest for life is the capacity to feel invigorated. To feel ready to go, enthusiastic, and brimming with force (Roy Chowdhury, 2019).

  • Resolution and fortitude means taking personal responsibility for things happening in your life.

  • Congruence between desired and achieve goals is feeling that goals have been accomplished.

  • Physical, psychological, and social self concept refers to a person's perception of themselves. Feeling confident about your appearance and physical condition. Feeling important and feeling you add value to others’ lives.

  • Optimism is a measure of how happy, hopeful, and confident you are about the future.

The Result

The researchers examined life satisfaction by collecting surveys from 443 people. 220 of the surveys were completed by gardeners and 223 by people who do not garden. They found statistically significant differences when comparing the scores of gardeners to nongardeners.

Gardeners had more positive results on 20% of the life satisfaction statements.

  • People who garden were more likely to agree with the statement: I have energy for everyday life.

  • Gardeners reported a higher level of physical activity.

  • Gardeners rated their health as very good to excellent more frequently than nongardeners.

  • Gardeners were more likely to answer positively to zest for life and optimism statements.

  • Contrarily, nongardners agreed with the statements “This is the dreariest time of my life” and “Most of the things I do are boring and monotonous” more frequently than gardeners.

The Takeaway

Gardening can help improve your overall level of life satisfaction and happiness. Even when you are not performing a gardening exercise. It's important to note that the surveys were not given to people deliberately placed in a beautiful garden. People took the surveys on a normal day while going about their everyday, normal lives.

The effects of gardening blend into the way we go about life.

This finding is pretty exciting! It’s great to have fun when we are actively gardening. But it’s even better that we get a constant boost from our gardening activities.

I hope this encourages you to make gardening a regular part of your routine. Want to garden more but feel you lack the time, space, skill, or money? This excerpt from the Live Your Best Life Mini-Course provides a guided exercise for how to overcome these barriers.

Ready to tackle a gardening project right away? Check out the ideas for summer gardening, from the previous blog post. 3 Container Garden Survival Strategies for the Blazing Days of Summer

Bonus Science

This study's finding that “zest for life” is higher among gardeners, is particularly interesting. There is significant research showing “zest for life” and happiness are closely linked.

Find out if “zest for life” is one of your inherent character strengths. Take this free survey from the VIA Institute on Character:

Learn to cultivate zest for life using this free Hortiki Plants Guide: Cultivating Zest for Life.


Cultivate zest for life worksheet


That's it!

Thanks for reading, and let us know? Do you feel happier when you garden? Do you think you have more optimism or energy because of your plant life? Share with us in the comment section below. Hortiki and I would love to hear from you!

Plant Love for Life!


Founder, Hortiki Plants


Roy Chowdhury, Madhuleena. 2019. "Zest In Positive Psychology: Satisfaction In Life And Work". Positivepsychology.Com.

Waliczek, T. M., J. M. Zajicek, and R. D. Lineberger. "The influence of gardening activities on consumer perceptions of life satisfaction." HortScience 40, no. 5 (2005): 1360-1365.

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