Creating something with your hands has a physiological way of inner happiness.
The feeling a writer gets when writing chapter after chapter, putting the manuscript together, getting the book reviewed, getting the book cover designed, the back and forth of review notes from the editor, reading and re-reading the book, making final changes, and ultimately holding the first copy in her hand after months of work is priceless.
The feeling an artist gets when her vision moves to from the bright colours paints, a new canvas, hours after hours of solitude in her studio creating something with her hands, is priceless.
The entrepreneur who spots a gap in the hearing aids market, make necessary plans to gather the deaf community from different areas in Gaborone and employ them to make solar hearing aids and see that plan come together is more than priceless, it is doing work that matters.
The singer who has a song still in her head, the architecture who sees that design not yet sketched on paper, the soccer player who practices that free kick over and over before the final, that designer who sees that show-stopper dress, the producer who tirelessly works on perfecting that script, the poet who scribbles those words on paper as they come to her like goosebumps on your body.
Like an uncomfortable and restless feeling you get, the only time you will rest is when you found the perfect melody for that song, the technique on how to bend the ball, the final cut on that dress, the actor feeling that script, those words on paper to form a soulful poem.
This is not about hard physical and emotional labour, it is about bringing your inner creative spirit into reality, about doing work that matters.
When we were young we created things with our two hands, we played with clay, legos, created cars using wire, created dresses, created characters when we played house etc.
It seems silly that we start out in young years and start making things. Unfortunately as we get older we become skilled at regurgitating things we are told instead of creating things with our hands. We follow the rules, do as we are told, ask no questions, create nothing. We live our predictable lives on auto-pilot, like sheep we keep our heads down and cower to the system. Maybe we should reverse the curriculum.
It is the coolest thing in the world to create something.
What would happen if we returned to our young days and roots as seniors in high school?
Research has shown that creating or tending things by hand enhances mental health and makes us happy.
Too much time on technological devices and the fact that we buy almost all of what we need rather than having to make it has deprived us of the creative processes that provide pleasure, meaning and pride.
Making things promotes psychological well-being. The process is important for happiness because when we make, repair or create things we feel vital and effective. It is not as much about reaching one’s potential as doing something interesting, less about ambition and more about living.
Hand activity from knitting to woodworking to growing vegetables or chopping them are useful for decreasing stress, relieving anxiety, and modifying depression.
Consider how you felt the last time you made something by hand. Whether it was a cake, a home improvement project, a garden, or a scrapbook, it was absorbing and satisfying, right? Maybe you even had a moment or more of euphoria.
Creativity is a powerful tool for altering the inner life because making things or transforming inner states into outer productions fosters solace and satisfaction.
Thus, creative action can function as a natural antidepressant. In the words of D.W. Winnicott psychoanalyst, pediatrician and creativity expert, “It is creative apperception more than anything else that makes the individual feel that life is worth living.”
Ps: In the picture is Tendekayi Katsiga, founder of Deaftronics. Him and his team of deaf workers manufacture solar hearing aids in Gaborone, Botswana.