Earth Laughs in Flowers – Ralph Waldo Emerson

November 3, 2015

By: Jennifer Evans

I was thinking about putting flowers in the lobby of my floor at the business school.  It seems like people generally like flowers but I also had a sense that there might be a bigger impact from this small action based in what I understand of Gretchen Spreitzer’s research on Thriving.  Also I was curious to extend something that happened when I’d brought lobby flowers to a school at which I was Dean.  I noticed that a student was taking a picture of each fresh bunch.  She told me that when she saw the flowers she was reminded that she could start fresh each day which made me happy.  At that school I was in a position to do such a thing, here I hesitated because I thought I might be asked to stop.  Maybe because our building is very designed, glass and modern and this addition would make our floor inconsistent with the others.

I was pondering this as I wandered into the Salvation Army and came upon the perfect vase; big and round, not tippy and with a narrow top so the flowers don’t all fall over.  Perfect.  As I watched myself buying the vase I realized that I had decided and so I started buying a single bunch of cut flowers each week.  I love flowers like that, simple and friendly and I think in some way more loveable than a formal arrangement….which in any case, I cannot afford!     

For six months now I’ve been doing the flowers and have found a little groove in this happy habit- a colorful break in the action of my day.  It is fun to see the flowers in the midst of studying students and to witness their uplifting effect on people passing by.  And indeed, as I’ve watched and as I’ve received people’s comments it does appear that there is a connection between this small act and a larger impact.  The flowers do appear to support thriving and vitality in the below ways.  

Positive Emotions

Flowers can just sit there and elicit a positive response.  When we feel positive our minds are open, we think more broadly and are more creative and productive.

Restorative Environment

People gaze at the flowers and have a mini break in their focused day.  Even a brief moment with nature allows our mind to rest and restore itself.


When people pass or sit by the flowers they appreciate them.  Appreciation is good for our hearts. It brings our heart rhythms into coherence.

High Quality Connection

The flowers give people something to connect around and about.  When I arrange them and tidy them, people talk with me and we have a chat.  One of the professors watched me as he made his coffee and said “we are blessed.”  Short connected moments such as this change our physiology and lift our energy.


When I bring the flowers I am contributing to my colleagues and to those who visit our floor.  I feel glad each time.  Opportunities to contribute have profound impacts on our happiness, health and success.  I wonder if witnessing contribution open new possibilities for others.  


The flowers invite a mini mindfulness break which can reduce stress and increase clarity.


Simply by being their beautiful selves the flowers give people a reason to be grateful and many have expressed their thanks.  Our feelings and expressions of gratitude support happiness, positivity and high performance.

Here are some expressions of thanks and comments I’ve received:

The flowers in the lobby give a feeling of home, make the work place more humane; that it is about people, people who do other things and not just work.
They also give a feeling of a tidy place, something lively.
Finally, they smell good!! Our olfactory receptors are an essential part of the key to fond memories!

I noticed the flowers right away when I got out of the elevator. I think it was the contrast with the surrounding that made me notice. I like nature so I believe, I felt like part of nature was at the place where I was spending most of my time. It was also very elegant but had a home-like feeling too. I think small things do make a huge difference in one`s daily life. It could be the personal touch and feeling of somebody who cares for us that may have made me notice it too. Thank you again for the lovely flowers! 🙂

I love having the flowers on the fifth floor.  They are beautiful.  Sometimes they smell nice.  They’re a little bit of nature in a building that can feel a bit sterile.  They make me feel like I work in an environment that people care about.  They make me feel happy whenever I walk by.  I think they make our floor look more professional, cared for, and lovely.  That inspires me.  I appreciate them (and your kind efforts) so much.

They are nice, homey. Make it not so businessy

I’ve really been loving the flowers right when we arrive on our floor. They are the first thing you see when you get off the elevator and they are just a really lively greeting. Of course, they are pretty. But more importantly, they show right away that the space is inhabited and used and cared for. The flowers always look fresh, so you know the space is being looked after and matters to people. I would almost like to run an experiment comparing communal areas that are manipulated to feature flowers vs. lack flowers and see if people might be less likely to leave trash around the ones with flowers…

Thanks for getting this started, I think we all benefit from it!

I love having a touch from the outside brought inside, it feels cozy, comforting, relaxing.

To glance at the flowers reminds me of God and I thank him for creating such beauty for us to enjoy.

Usually, when the elevator doors open on the 5th floor, I’m not remembering that there will be flowers to enjoy so when I see them I always smile and am immediately happy. When you were in Paris, I actually did notice your flowers were not there. That little happy moment was missing. (Is that a little happy moment or something bigger?) I marvel that you do this on your own because it makes you happy. Well it has a positive effect on others as well. 

Who puts the flowers out there? That’s really nice.

Dramatic. You open the door and it’s dramatic and you know that something special is going on, on this floor.

So our fifth floor flowers are a big hit and while flowers themselves may be the earth laughing they leave us all smiling.