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Are You A Dandelion Or An Orchid?

2 min read

Why do some people go on to lead successful lives despite coming from tough backgrounds while others struggle to climb out of the rabbit hole? Is it merely to do with factors such as personality and luck, or is there more to it?
For years, scientists have been looking for the reasons why some people thrive in adversity and others don’t. Why some of us have problems with depression and anxiety while others don’t.

In ‘The Orchid and the Dandelion‘, Dr W. Thomas Boyce – one of the world’s foremost researchers in the field of pediatric health – shows us that differences in resiliency and the way we respond to our environments can be seen since the very early stage of our life. Building on the definitions of introvert, extrovert or highly sensitive, Thomas Boyce explains for the first time how a combination of environmental and genetic factors contribute to what makes us who we are. While some of us are like dandelions – hardy and resilient- and can thrive in almost any environment, there are others who, like orchids, are much more reactive, sensitive and susceptible to their surroundings.

This breakthrough research explores why some people struggle where others succeed, why happiness comes so easily to some while frustrations weigh more heavily on others. By understanding, which of us are, genetically and environmentally speaking, and the way we can match our talents and temperament to the most hospitable environment, we raise the chances of our blooming. The Orchid Hypothesis, in particular, provides great insight into late bloomers. If we are slow to bloom, perhaps we are more orchid-like in our temperament and live in a pot that’s inhospitable but also able to bloom spectacularly with the right care.

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According to science journalist David Dobbs who has explored the subject further for the New Scientist, together, the steady dandelions and the mercurial orchids open a path to otherwise unreachable individual and collective achievements.

The many dandelions in a population provide an underlying stability. The less-numerous orchids, meanwhile, may falter in some environments but can excel in those that suit them. And even when they lead troubled early lives, some of the resulting heightened responses to adversity that can be problematic in everyday life—increased novelty-seeking, a restlessness of attention, elevated risk-taking, or aggression—can prove advantageous in certain challenging situations: wars, tribal or modern; social strife of many kinds; and migrations to new environments.

Whether you are a dandelion or orchid, take advantage of this turbulent time to reflect upon on yourself and cultivate your talents. The choices we make now — even tiny ones — will make every difference to how we feel about ourselves, and others, in the future.

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