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Natural Happiness: the Gardener’s Way

Grow your resilience by learning from ecosystems

By Alan Heeks


How can you keep growing in stormy times? Where can you make a fruitful contribution? This book shows you ways to cultivate yourself like a garden, and grow your own wellbeing by learning from natural ecosystems.

The times we’re in need new skills to thrive and be fruitful.  Natural Happiness is a practical guide to help in your personal life, your community, and how you relate to the bigger issues. It shows you ways to cultivate your own human nature, and tend yourself like a garden: deepen your roots, and grow organically through all kinds of weather.

Alan Heeks learned about resilient ecosystems by creating an organic farm and a conservation woodland, and has twenty years’ experience of helping people, communities and doctors to grow their wellbeing by learning from Nature.  In this down-to-earth book, Alan explains the Seven Seeds of Natural Happiness:

  • Nourish your roots: understand, balance and renew your underlying resources.
  • Cultivate your ecosystem: use natural energy sources and gardening methods like mulching to sustain you as life gets more demanding.
  • Compost your troubles – the upsides of downsides: transform negative feelings and problems, by composting them. Grow through challenges, change the story.
  • Shaping uncertainty – the co-creative way: new skills to handle uncertainty, thrive without control, harness your intuition.
  • Natural inspiration: going deeper with Nature as a partner rooting yourself in vision, faith, a bigger picture.
  • Cultivating community: learning from ecosystems (wild margins and more); resilience skills for groups of all kinds.
  • Growing through climate change: learning from Nature about regeneration. Help from deep ecology and deep adaptation. Finding your own best response.



  1. Nourish your roots: the basics of natural happiness. How this book can help you. Take the tree test – are your roots, trunk and branches in balance? Why resilience helps your happiness. How to cultivate your ground condition: the underlying resources that feed your roots and wellbeing.  Overview of the book, and the stories behind it.
  2. Cultivate your ecosystem – natural energy sources: learn to harness clean energy sources like appreciation, instead of polluting energy from stress, caffeine etc. Apply gardening methods like pruning, crop rotation, mulching, and seasonal cycles to your life and work.  Deepening your resilience as life gets more turbulent.
  3. Compost your troubles: the upsides of downsides: in natural systems, waste is composted as a major source of fertility. How to transform your negative feelings, anxieties and problem situations by composting them. Creative conflict handling, natural communication, changing the story.
  4. Shaping uncertainty – the co-creative way: steering a natural system, whether it’s a person, a team, or a garden, needs new skills like co-creativity, tracker vision, deep listening and the Diamond Process. Your co-creative toolkit. How to manifest your vision.
  5. Natural inspiration: going deeper with Nature as a guide and partner. Drawing on soul connection, and bigger sources for insight. Inspiration for vision and recovery. Inspiration for vision and recovery.
  6. Cultivating community: see how natural systems thrive on mutual support and use diversity. Learn the skills of group dynamics, and the value of wild margins. Different kinds of community, and how to work with them, including neighbourhood groups and work teams.
  7. Growing through climate change: learning from Nature about regeneration and adaptation. Deep ecology, deep adaptation, and other helpful approaches. Perspectives, big questions, and finding your own way forward.
  8. Natural Happiness and Roots of Resilience: Toolkit: This offers longer processes or briefings to supplement Chapters 1-7, including: Personal Energy Audit, Conflict Resolution, Natural Communication, Community Mapping.

Not Fade Away - staying happy when you’re over 64

The late sixties and beyond are a landmark: a good time to choose what you want from the years ahead, and take stock of the story so far. This short, practical book offers you valuable guidance, new skills, and resources to help you to be happy in your vintage years and grow through the tough bits.

Chapters about Finding Your Gifts include Love Me Do on relationships, and Born to be Wild on fresh adventures. Digging Your Challenges includes Good Vibrations on managing your health, and Matthew and Son on work and money. Fresh Maps includes Won’t Get Fooled Again on changing your story, and My Generation, wisdom from others. If you remember the idealism of the 1960’s, this is a chance to renew it!

Out Of The Woods

This book is a guide for the maturing man: complete with route-finder, service areas, scenic highlights and emergency callout advice. It gathers the best wisdom and experience of many men on enjoying your best years to the full, on the skills you need to handle the losses and shipwrecks, and on how to grow through them. It offers insights, inspiration, practical advice and resources for further help.The aim is simple: enjoy life now!

The Natural Advantage- Renewing Yourself.

This pioneering book translates the principles and practices of organic farming, cultivated natural systems and sustainable development to show how individuals, teams and organisations can grow their resilience to stress, change and uncertainty, and improve their effectiveness and wellbeing.

Alan comments, “There has been huge progress in understanding environmental sustainability in recent decades, but few people recognise that there are similar issues around human sustainability. The human resources in many work organisations are being depleted and polluted in the drive for output: organic farming offers us a simple, vivid, practical model to change this.

The Natural Advantage has been published in the UK, US, Netherlands, Japan and elsewhere. The UK edition: ISBN 18578826-1-X: now out of print in the UK, but available second hand.”

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