Natural Happiness

Use organic gardening skills to cultivate yourself

By Alan Heeks

Due for publication by O Books in March 2024

In these stormy times, this book will help you to dig deep and stay cheerful: it shows how gardening methods like composting, mulching, and crop rotation can be used to cultivate human nature too. A gardener applies skills like observation, patience and creativity, and you can adapt them to deal with daily stresses and big issues like climate change. Alan’s approach is positive and practical, easy to use for gardeners and others.

The book explores Alan’s Seven Seeds of Natural Happiness, which grow from twenty years’ experience of helping people learn from Nature, and from creating gardens and an organic farm. They are:

  1. Nourish your roots, and your ground condition.
  2. Use natural energy sources, like appreciation and enthusiasm.
  3. Compost your troubles: turn setbacks into useful energy!
  4. Shaping uncertainty: the co-creative way: new ways to dance with challenges.
  5. Cultivating community: learn from gardens about cooperation and using diversity.
  6. Growing through climate change: how humans and Nature can raise resilience and adapt together.
  7. Natural inspiration: find purpose and perspective through Nature.


    1. Nourish your roots: how this book can help you. Try the tree talk – are your roots, trunk and branches in balance? How to cultivate your ground condition: the underlying resources that feed your roots and wellbeing. The stories behind the book.
    2. Use natural energy sources: learn to harness clean energy sources like appreciation, instead of polluting and depleting energy from stress, caffeine, etc. The four elements of natural energy, and tips for personal regeneration. Apply gardening methods like pruning, mulching, and seasonal cycles to your life and work.
    3. Compost your troubles: in natural systems, waste becomes a major source of energy for growth. See how to transform negative feelings and problem situations by composting them. Constructive ways to process conflicts, using natural communication. Changing the story: ways to uproot negative patterns.
    4. Shaping uncertainty: the co-creative way: bewildering situations need new skills like co-creativity, tracker vision, Fox Walk, deep listening and the Diamond Process. Learn how to befriend your problems, get creative help from Nature, and manifest your hopes.
    5. Cultivating community: see how natural systems thrive on mutual support, and use diversity and wild margins. Understanding different kinds of community, and how to work with them, including neighbourhood groups. Projects to learn from, and a community-building toolkit.
    6. Growing through climate change: how to face rising turbulence. Ways we can learn from Nature and support her. Choosing natural regeneration over techno-fixes. Useful frameworks such as Deep Ecology and Deep Adaptation. Perspectives, big questions and how to find your focus.
    7. Natural inspiration: how Nature can help you find faith and a bigger perspective. Drawing guidance and support from your garden: connection, attunement. Soul connection, self-care, applied inspiration.


    Natural Happiness is inspiring and practical. Based on decades of hands-on experience, Alan Heeks entwines gardening strategies with mindful exercises that are proven to improve your wellbeing. His approach also has a poetic and ecologically sensitive side as he draws parallels between our personal challenges and the fragile state of Gaia our planet. If you are looking for a helpful, grounded and realistic approach; if you love nature and gardening; if you want to improve your wellbeing — then this short and friendly book is for you.
    Dr William Bloom, international author and educator

    If you wanted to improve your life by growing just one thing, what would you choose? ‘Yourself’ is Alan’s answer and I agree. He’s mapped out so beautifully how we can do this, growing not only our wellbeing and resilience, but also our rootedness in the world. As someone who’s inspired by projects Alan has developed, I’m so pleased he’s sharing his practical vision and approach in this book.
    Dr Chris Johnstone, co-author of Active Hope, leading expert in resilience and wellbeing

    Alan Heeks’ wise book offers subtle but powerful ways to restore happiness in our lives.  We can cultivate wellbeing like gardeners cultivate their gardens, noticing the essentials – soil, sun, air, compost and water – and making small adjustments to increase a vibrancy. Our happiness can grow as we tend, rather than fix, what ails us.
    Vicki Robin, leading US author and social innovator

    I love how Alan takes the positives of gardening and translates them to everyday life, with phrases such as compost your troubles and cultivate community. He shows how to translate the practicalities of life-affirming garden methods into our own lives, which sets up a loop of positive feedback between us and plants. Grow a green finger, healthy plants, great soil and feel vibrant while doing it.
    Charles Dowding, leading UK organic gardener and author

    Alan’s wise and joyous celebratory book shows how our primordial relationship with our planetary home Gaia, is not only fundamental to our healing within ourselves and each other, but vital to our potential to survive and thrive – and to consciously evolve – as a planetary and universal species. 
    Dr Jude Currivan, cosmologist, planetary healer, author, co-founder of WholeWorld-View

    New evidence from the Amazon to Australia tells us that we humans were improving the biodiversity and food productivity of wildernesses for thousands of years before the start of sedentary agriculture. In other words, we are a gardening species. That might be why we can feel so at home and at peace when gardening today. And it is why we can approach gardening with a renewed reverence and confidence. Alan Heeks taps into this truth as he advises on how gardening yourself can be as meaningful, healing and celebratory as possible. Your harvests will be even more enjoyable after reading this book.
    Professor Jem Bendell, initiator of the Deep Adaptation Forum

    I have worked with Alan for over ten years as a valued fellow of the Schumacher Institute. His passion to help people and address the big questions of the future – the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and community resilience – is an inspiration. This book draws together much of his thinking on ways that nature and gardening can provide powerful answers, both literal and metaphorical, to generate happiness.
    Ian Roderick, Director, The Schumacher Institute

    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!

    Cost: £10 to include post and packing, or buy 2 books from a choice of Not Fade Away: staying happy when you’re over 64, Out of the Woods: A Guide to Life for Men Beyond 50, The Find your gift in Work Workbook and The Work Easy Workbook for £16 including packing and postage. Available only from Alan: contact him here.

    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!

    Cost: £10 to include post and packing, or buy 2 books from a choice of Not Fade Away: staying happy when you’re over 64, Out of the Woods: A Guide to Life for Men Beyond 50, The Find your gift in Work Workbook and The Work Easy Workbook for £16 including packing and postage. Available only from Alan: contact him here.

    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 managers, work teams and organisations can grow their resilience to stress, change and uncertainty, and improve their effectiveness and wellbeing. It is also highly relevant for coaches, consultants and others who support them.

    “I am no lover of business books… It was therefore a relief to come across one that made me sit up and think, one that was written from an unexpected viewpoint and that avoided most of the clichés of modern management-speak.”

    Charles Handy, Management Today

    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: is now out of print in the UK, but available second hand.

    The Find Your Gift In Work Workbook

    This is an 80-page, spiral-bound A4 workbook which will guide you through a process of exploration to identify the kind of work that would really fulfil  you, and make it happen. Here’s a list of the contents:

    1. Contact your Intuition: Provides you with a technique for getting in touch with your own inner sense of what you need, which is then used in the rest of the book.
    2. Meet Yourself – at last!: This helps you to get to know yourself better, particularly what you like and want from your work.
    3. Your Work in Perspective: Here you can explore your attitudes to work further, and the relationship between your work and the rest of your life.
    4. Face your Fears:  This section helps you to explore obstacles and fears which may have held you back in the past, and shows you how to overcome them.
    5. Open the Box: Drawing on the insights from the previous sections, here you can get in touch with your vision for the work you want to do in the future.
    6. Test Drive your Fantasy: How to check out and explore your vision of the work you like doing and the implications.
    7. Working with the System: Looking at the needs of the person or organisation you are dealing with, and ways you can both meet your needs.
    8. Following Through: Creating your own action plan, finding help and support.
    9. Further Help: Suggestions for books, workshops, centres which could be useful to you.

    Cost: £10 to include post and packing, or buy 2 books from a choice of Not Fade Away: staying happy when you’re over 64, Out of the Woods: A Guide to Life for Men Beyond 50, The Find your gift in Work Workbook and The Work Easy Workbook for £16 including packing and postage. Available only from Alan: contact him here.

    The Work Easy Workbook

    This 58-page A4 workbook will help you to understand and manage the different forms of energy you use: emotional, physical, mental and inspirational. It’s a self-help guide with practical processes and advice. Here’s a list of the contents:

    1. Introduction
    How to use this Workbook. Key concepts: the four energy levels (physical, emotional, mental, macro); intuition; mirroring; the organic/natural approach. Conducting your own Personal Energy Audit.

    2. Black hole or endless well: your emotional energy
    Unfreezing the power of the positive; lifting the lid; exploring negative emotions; understanding and changing limiting habits, beliefs and feelings.

    3. Your physical energy: the base and the face
    The ‘bodyface’: how to diagnose and address issues at other levels through your physical condition; some complementary treatments for bodyface ailments; how to manage your physical energy; stress balancing: understanding stress, personal stress audit, stressors and de-stressors.

    4. Macro energy: the power of inspiration
    Recognising and developing your sources of macro/inspirational energy; suggested exercises and methods to receive macro energy; exercises for guidance and support.

    5. Your mental energy: ace team or lazy monkeys?
    Methods to develop the creative, intuitive right-side of the brain, including dialogue, drawings and creativity exercises; methods of using the logical, analytical, left-side of the brain, e.g. evaluation matrix, objectives and priority setting; methods of integrating the left and right sides; how to access the sub-conscious brain.

    6. The energy of relationships
    How to assess the energy of a relationship, using the four energy levels and other methods; energy tools for improving relationships; assertiveness: how to use energy effectively in communications; understanding the energy of teams.

    7. Conclusions: integrate, sustain, explore
    Integrating: further ways to integrate the four energy levels, and resolve any tensions between them, e.g. the energy dipstick, the team meeting. Sustaining methods for energy maintenance and repairs. Further exploration: how to deepen your understanding of energy management, e.g. the chakra energy centre model, spiritual healing, sub-personality work.

    Cost: £10 to include post and packing, or buy 2 books from a choice of Not Fade Away: staying happy when you’re over 64, Out of the Woods: A Guide to Life for Men Beyond 50, The Find your gift in Work Workbook and The Work Easy Workbook for £16 including packing and postage. Available only from Alan: contact him here.

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