From a Colorado-sponsored site, of all places:
Mindfulness is often described as the ability to be in the moment, to be aware of one’s surroundings. Some people meditate to become more mindful, although meditation is really just a tool that leads to post-meditative mindfulness. Although it’s a good tool, it’s a tool, nonetheless—the means to an end.
In a study that was conducted in the 1970s, a group of nursing home residents was given a choice of plants, and encouraged to decide where to put their plants, as well as when and how much to water them. Another group, meanwhile, was given plants, but told that the nursing staff would be taking care of them.
The most startling result was that, a year-and-a-half later, twice as many residents in the first group were still alive (as compared to the second). Being empowered to make choices around the care of a plant resulted in mindfulness among that first group of residents—and that mindfulness had powerful consequences.