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By Jill Hope

Many people tout the benefits to kids of being in nature. Nature can help us learn about the inner workings of life, the stuff we don’t often see on the outside as we go through our daily lives.

Nature is energy (well, everything is energy when it comes down to it), and by observing this natural energy of life and taking cues from what we observe, we can learn a lot about how we can function at our best.

Here are 3 things we can learn from nature.  By opening up to what nature can teach us, we can learn how to help our kids live the best lives they can.

1)      Nature doesn’t struggle; rather, it always chooses the path of least resistance.

Nature teaches us this lesson in many ways. We see it in how the river always flows downhill, never uphill. We see it in the flower that grows in a crack in the pavement. It finds the opening and through that opening, becomes all it was meant to be.  When we struggle against circumstances, we are not able to use all of our energy to be our best. We lose our energy to the struggle. The flower wants to be a flower, but sometimes the environment brings with it challenges. By embracing the challenge, rather than fighting against it, and looking for the path of least resistance, like the flower finding the crack in the pavement, we maintain the ability to be the flower we are each meant to be.

2) Rigid trees break in a storm; flexible trees bend but remain whole.

Nature shows us that it is in its ability to remain flexible, it actually remains strong and whole.  Resistance to what is can cause more problems in our lives than when we just “go with the flow”. When we remain soft and flexible, like trees that bend in the wind, we are better able to recover and remain whole when challenges arise. When we become hard and stuck in our ways, even the gentlest of challenges can break us. Flexibility and openness to all that life can throw at us can help us weather any storm that might come our way.

3) Nature doesn’t try to be something that it isn’t. A rose is a rose, and a tulip is a tulip.

How often do you or your child look at someone else and wish to be them or have something that they have? How often does your child change something about herself to be more like someone else? Nature can show us that we don’t offer as much to the world when we strive to be something or someone that we are not. Can you imagine a rose that longs to be a tulip? It would distort its petals to look more like a tulip’s petals and it would suppress its fragrant, beautiful smell. How beautiful would a rose be trying to be like a tulip? Think of the beauty the whole world would miss out on if a rose tried to be a tulip, rather than just standing in the full beauty of what it was meant to be, a rose.

This is exactly what you do when you try to be someone else, or when you try to suppress aspects of yourself to be more like another. The world misses out on the full beauty of you!  When your child tries to be someone he isn’t, remind him what the world will be missing by not getting the full essence of him, just like the world would miss out on the beauty and fullness of the rose if it tried to be more like a tulip.

Taking these and other cues from nature can teach us much about how to guide our children to live great lives. The next time you struggle with your kids, remember how nature doesn’t struggle, how it remains flexible during storms, and how it only tries to be who it is meant to be, and not someone or something that it is not.