Lesson 4: Can Dirt Make You Happy?

After weeding, and working in the soil! Students “learn while doing” with the Ho`ola Ka Makana`a and Kalaemano team at Ka`upulehu.

Many people say they are happier after working in the garden or out in the forest. Besides the pleasure of giving back to the earth, there may be much more of an exchange happening than you ever imagined. New research suggests that bacterium in the dirt raises serotonin levels (the pleasure or happy brain chemical), and boosts the immune system. If you’re feeling “happy as a pig” you probably have been engaging with the soil—or the living organisms Mycobacterium vaccae that seem to activate happy neurons. Work in the dirt—but it needs to be alive. Pull weeds, plant a garden, hana lima
Be happy and well!

Documented joy, after planting over 100 natives and digging in the dirt with Ho`olauna Kona keiki. 
This is the 2008 summer Hawai`i Youth Conservation Corps with Wilds Brawner at Ka`upulehu. Photo by Yvonne Yarber Carter

Read more about how dirt makes you happy at the following: 

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