Once upon a time we grew and raised our own food and made our clothing and built our homes. DIY was not a “thing”. Nobody wondered what it meant to work by hand because it was the way we lived.
That was a long time ago.
Now science tells us that it is to our benefit to slow down and get back to some of the ways life used to be; that working with our hands enhances our well-being; that it is good for us – an antidote to the modern world.
I know this truth from personal experience because knitting changed my life in every good way. I went from a firm belief in my inability to create anything worthy to creating works of art that, at the very least, make me feel wonderful. With a pair of kitting needles and wonderful fiber, I found a whole new side of myself that lay dormant just waiting for a pair of knitting needles to unlock it. I was 62 – an age some might thing was too late to start but for me was just in time.
My experience is one that science confirms is not so much unique to me as it is universal. Working with our hands makes us happy and allows us to feel productive and valuable. While once it was a way of life, our current world rarely allows us to slow down, get out of our own heads or feel productive and valuable.
Research shows that creating by hand enhances mental health and makes us happy. Dr. Kelly Lambert (www.kellylambertlab.com) found that hands-on work satisfies a primal need to make things. Too much time on technological devices and the fact that we buy almost all of what we need has deprived us of processes that provide pleasure, meaning and pride. Process is important for happiness because when we make, repair or create things we feel vital and effective. It is about doing something interesting– less about ambition and more about living. When we are deeply absorb in a productive task we lose self-consciousness – decrease stress, relieve anxiety, and modify depression.