Lessons from Sunflowers: Always Turn Toward the Light

Lessons from Sunflowers: Always Turn Toward the Light
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

We can learn lessons from sunflowers and try to imitate their instinct to constantly seek sunlight, obtain nutrients, and grow in beauty and strength. But also remember that your true sun is not a star that you revolve around; it is within you, so look for it, pay attention to it, and follow its instinct.

The folklore of many cultures regarding sunflowers is interesting and magical. They’re often associated with truth, honesty, and loyalty. It’s also said that if you’re having doubts about something, all you have to do is grab a sunflower from the field right at sunset and place it under your pillow. When you wake up in the morning, everything you have to do will be clear.

We’re all like sunflowers; we have gray days where we droop our heads, and days where we raise them happily towards the rays of the sun.

The legend of Clytie

However, this positive spin loses its impact a little when you look at Greek mythology. According to one classic legend, a young water nymph named Clytie fell hopelessly in love with the sun god Helios and the light he gave off every time he passed by her. She admired his strength and beauty. However, he never noticed her or paid her any attention.

The days turned into months, and the months into years, until Clytie lost her nymph-like appearance and started to grow roots, to attach herself to the ground and let golden petals grow out of her beautiful face. The time and loyalty associated with her unrequited love turned her into a sunflower, a beautiful creature whose only purpose was to follow the gaze of the object of her impossible love: Helios.

Sometimes, like this legend explains, we focus our sights and desires on impossible goals. That’s why we have to be able to pay attention to and ignite the light within us, which can better guide us than external ones.

sunflowers woman

Searching for the best opportunities

Life takes many turns, just like sunflowers turn themselves to follow the light of the sun, fulfilling their natural magic. But it’s clear that we don’t have a natural instinct towards such positivity written in our DNA. We don’t naturally gravitate towards new opportunities, changes that will make us grow, initiatives that will make us improve and be happier.

Every day, people have to move through fields planted with seeds of uncertainty and weeds of fear. There’s no north star to guide us, so we’re almost obligated to turn on our inner lights to guide us along paths where nothing is guaranteed, certain, or practical.

With the strength of hope and perseverance, we can pluck our roots from our comfort zones so that we may begin new and hopeful journeys. 

Richard Wiseman, psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire and author of interesting books like 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot and The Luck Factor, explains in the latter how important one’s emotional state is in attracting or repelling luck. Far from magic, it’s really just a mental attitude and being open to new opportunities, to those beams of light where chance and even serendipity can work in our favor.

sunflowers kitten

You create your own luck

Elizabeth Nutt Williams , professor of psychology and researcher at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, did a very interesting study on the “luck” factor. She attempted to describe which factors and characteristics define people who show a greater tendency towards experiencing serendipity, unexpected bursts of luck that we often associate with destiny or even magic.

Of all the things that bring good luck, perseverance and work are the most certain.

She demonstrated, for example, that people who appear lucky scored higher in openness, resilience, problem-solving, positivity, self-confidence, innovation, and creativity. They also scored lower on neuroticism, anxiety, guilt, and anger.

sunflowers field
From this, we can conclude that in order to create your own luck, to turn on your inner light and let it guide you towards personal satisfaction and well-being like a lighthouse, you have to approach life from a more relaxed perspective.

Characteristics like cognitive flexibility and the ability to measure your needs can help you direct your gaze towards more fertile ground.

Let’s all avoid being like Clytie, who, despite her poetic story, is a clear example of someone who focused all her energy and emotions on an impossible dream. Let’s be like sunflowers, made of light, positivity, happiness, confidence, and the ability to light our own paths. This will guide us towards true happiness.

Images courtesy of Veronica Minozzi

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.