A Lesson From Nature About Expanding And Growing Your Life

Jan 25, 2014 | Creativity

tree growing around house


A tree will grow if it is rooted strongly in the ground despite what might be placed in its path.

If you put a plant near a sunny window, it will grow toward the light to best insure its survival despite the less-than-perfect conditions.

Nature has wisdom.  It knows how to adapt.

hermit crabs

When I was a little kid at the Jersey Shore, getting hermit crabs on the boardwalk as pets was the best part of the summer.  We were told to keep lots of extra shells- shells you could buy when you bought your crab- in their cage. While at first I was shocked and horrified to wake up to see that my little crab had abandoned what I thought was his body(his shell) , and was sure I had a defective crab – (I was eight!)- within a short period of time, my little guy had crawled into a more suitable home. He picked a new shell and made it work.

He adapted.

He shed his unsuitable home and adapted to something that felt better to him.

Even though he had only a few viable choices at his disposal, he figured it out.

Plants figure things out to survive and thrive despite the conditions.  My herbit crab was flexible enough as a being to figure things out for himself, too, when faced with the obstacle of a shell that no longer fit.

We can figure things out the same way.

We are inextricably tied to nature.  Even our cells mirror those of trees and leaves in geometric structure and proportion.

Our very smart brains, however, can think ourselves out of adapting to change, even positive change.

When faced with a home that no longer works for us, obstacles in the path of our dreams or all sorts of other challenges that are  physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual, we sometimes freeze.

Things don’t look the way we thing they “should” or we are “used to” so we can  get angry, scared, stuck and shut down.

If we looked at a tree in the same situation, having a building erected over it’s space to grow, it doesn’t have the ability to trick itself mentally.  If it can find a way to grow, it stretches, reaches and hugs the terrain to find its way to the sun.

We humans adapt in all sorts of ways to a comfort zone that can prevent us from adapting toward greater actual survival. In psychology, the Law Of Psychological Adaptation suggests that we humans tend to become fixed in our habits- adapted to ways of being-  even if they don’t serve us to thrive in a rational sense.  Thomas R. Hirsh, Ph.D. writes: 

“We also become accustomed to or adapted to tension and anxiety. A person under constant stress forgets he or she is tense, even though every one else can see it. The same with anxiety, and the same with anger. You can be very angry for very long and never know you’re angry. It’s only after you relax that you recognize how tense you were, and it’s only after you go into a deeper state of relaxation that you realize how tense you still were even a moment before when you thought you were relaxed. And the same for anger. A person can live as a slave, or in an abusive situation for years and never see it as anything more than “the way things are.” Sometimes rage can be so deep and powerful that no one even dreams it’s there until it erupts one day.

Besides sensations and feelings, our psychology adapts to intellectual and ethical situations. Your reading and conversations can seem stimulating and extremely interesting, but, after reading or talking with a great thinker, it makes you not want to go back to the old type of thinking. But after you are away from the genius for a while, you forget and adjust and adapt and sink back into your old way of thinking without realizing you have sunk back in.”

Have you adapted to ways of being that are not serving you? Are you willing to stretch yourself to adapt to new ways to actually soar without struggle?

Nature doesn’t have to struggle to move toward light and survival. There is an internal wisdom, a cellular knowledge, that if you don’t have light as a tree you will not live. There is a willingness to bend, contort and even defy what seems like reason in order to keep growing.

Change is fast and furious these days, and we can fight it off or we can find our own light and stretch toward it as things change.

I always remind myself that the more I push against things that are stuck in place, the more I get pushed back.  But when I have taken the time to breathe, to see the big picture, and to find my way toward the light within whatever situation gets dropped in my lap- even if that means walking away from things that I can’t adapt to and survive well- things flow.

Ever try to fight change and insist that your ways works?  I have a client who resisted technology to the point where her brick-and-mortar business almost crumbled.  I agree, I love tangible experiences and feel there is value in simplicity. But, if she didn’t decide to adapt in ways that felt right to her, using technology in ways that helped her stay true to herself yet a part of the marketplace, she would have lost her business.

Adapting does not mean losing yourself to a new way. It is finding yourself and growing in a broader context.

The next time you feel yourself frozen in the face of obstacles or languishing in your own less-than-awesome habits, you might want to try cultivating more of the feng shui wood element in your life.  Eat more greens.  Stretch more, physically, even a few minutes a day.  Write by hand in stream of consciousness in a journal, in cursive writing.

Nature knows just about everything.  Follow the lead of the trees, the hermit crabs and the millions of species that find their way to thrive and change and grow with flow.



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  1. Constant Cat

    Just had to say, loved this one, Dana. Really beautiful article!

  2. Nicky

    Just right for me today, Dana. I don’t know how I am going to replace what is toxic in my life, but reading your article shows me how easy it is to make excuses to stay with the ‘known’ even when it cripples you….or me, in this case….I spoke my mind this week….I suppose I was disapproving…even just with 3 words of genuine opinion….and the backlash of disapproval in the group was killer!! I literally hurt so much I wanted to die. I don’t think I can turn that around. Don’t know what the future holds, but think it’s not healthy to stay in that environment. Fear of not belonging anywhere else either has been keeping me there. I am looking for new shells to inhabit.

    • danaclaudat

      i hear you 🙂 these days, its harder for me to fake who i am than to risk not belonging. wishing you lots of happiness nicky!

  3. LisaHathor

    Great post Dana thanks for sharing and inspiring. Keep it up. namaste. 🙂



  1. Advice From A Tree | Words Of Wisdom | The Tao of Dana - […] can heal you. Nature has crazy brilliant wisdom. What more is there to say? xoxo […]

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