“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
— Alexander Den Heijer —
When tuning in to this section remember the story of the flower that didn’t bloom. Consider why some flowers blossom and bloom as nature intended, and why some do not.
STORY OF ANN AND JUDY
Environment is potent medicine. Dr Julian Baginni is a founding editor of the Philosopher’s Magazine and author of the brilliant book Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will.1 He shares the story of identical twins Ann and Judy, who have 99.99% the exact same genes, you couldn’t get more identical—yet their environments created big differences in their health, happiness, connection and abundance they attracted in their lives.
Ann and Judy were born in Wales in 1940, a particularly challenging period after The Great Depression and the beginning of The Second World War. They were born into a working-class family who already had five children and couldn’t cope with any more. The tiny babies were sent to live with separate aunts. Judy’s placement did not work out and she returned to her biological mother at three months old. Ann’s placement continued on and she stayed with her aunt and uncle as their only child.
Even though their geographical and cultural environments were similar, the two households in which Ann and Judy grew up were very different. Judy’s family was a tough grassroots family and she recalled that “she was a street kid, always out.”
While Ann’s uncle worked in the same steelworks as her biological father, he had managed to get ahead being careful with money and partly because they only had one child to care for. Ann said she always had her “nose in a book because I was on my own.”2 Ann then passed the 11-plus exam and was accepted into the local grammar school before entering a white-collar job. Judy ended up at the local secondary school before leaving early to work in a furniture shop.
SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT MATTERS
The next stages of their lives followed similar paths yet the consequences were very different due to their social environments. Within six months of working, Ann became pregnant and quit her job. Interestingly, only two months later, Judy became pregnant and quit her nursing course. There was also a parallel in the men they married; both men were violent. Ann didn’t stay married for long. “I left and went back home (environment), and they were very supportive when they found out what was going on.”3
Judy, however, stayed married for 17 years and didn’t leave her husband because she lacked support. She had three children by age 21. Her mother was no help with the attitude of “you made your bed, you lie on it.”4
While Ann was able to rebuild her life, Judy stayed in a stressful environment for two decades. By the time the twins rekindled their sibling relationship at the age of 48, the health differences were apparent. Judy was battling high blood pressure, a problem with her kidneys, and had had a hysterectomy. Ann had a supportive environment and always had access to money and resources; Judy did not.
Tales of identical twins like Ann and Judy show us that we are much more than the sum of the genes we are born with; our human potential is ignited (or otherwise) by the environments in which we spend the most time. Ultimately, various options are penciled in by our genetic blueprint but nourishing environments also need to be considered. This story is not to trigger the old and long-standing Nature versus Nurture debate, but to see that environment does play a role in our growth.
Think about what environments restrict your potential for health, well-being and success. Do they support you? Can you support others looking for their nourishing environments? Every moment is an environment to connect and nourish yourself or someone else.
CALL TO ACTION
Reflect on ONE environment that leaves you feeling better than when you arrived.
Socially - The 5 people you spend the most time with.
Geographically - They place on your vision board or the memory you always have of "that place"
Culturally - Where were you welcomed as family, felt safe, comfortable, and understood.
Work - What work environments did you grow the most in and feel valued, appreciated, and supported to grow?
This is directly referenced from the amazon best-selling SelfCare Book "Lifestyle Medicine For the People" by Rory Callaghan. If you would like to read more content like this. Grab the free online chapters of the book or a hard copy.
We have done our best to reference everyone’s expert opinions, peer-reviewed science, and original thoughts, all references available here and referenced in the text.
We also understand that most thoughts are not our own and there is a collective unconsciousness, unconsciousness, and universal mind stream of energy that is always at work. How are references are sorted and filtered is here.