Using our hands

I’m midway through an interesting book, The Creativity Cure by Carrie and Alton Barron. The authors, a psychologist and a surgeon, outline a 5-part ‘prescription’ for creativity and happiness. One of them is ‘Your Own Two Hands’ – using your hands to do something creative and meaningful. Their point is basically that most of us in industrialized society don’t use our hands to actually make things much anymore – we use them in repetitive tasks and abstracted ones, like working on a computer or using a smartphone. We don’t have to make the things that we use everyday anymore. It turns out this is important both psychologically and physiologically – using your hands is good for you body, mind and soul. I think sewists, gardeners, and cooks know this already – it’s part of the reason we love our hobbies. Some quotes from the book:

Making and using tools defined the rise of humankind and its evolving, enlarging brain…
We have arrived at a point in human society where manufacturing by hand is almost unnecessary from a practical point of view but necessary from a psychological perspective. Conveniences deprive us of processes that elevate mood and foster internal well-being…
If you are consistently using your hands in meaningful ways, you are stimulating one of the largest portions of the somatosensory and motor cortex of the brain, more than other parts of your body do.
If we stop using our hands in the way they were meant to be used – to construct, create, repair, stir, mix and manipulate – we churn within and become depressed. [A neuroscientist and psychologist] discovered that decreased hand use is linked to depression and that meaningful handwork boosts mood.
Hand use balances our digital, technology-focused lives and gives our instincts an outlet.
Making what we can, however imperfectly, is empowering, because it is an expression of the self…. Natural settings, natural selves, and natural products appeal to us, despite or even because of their imperfections.

[This post contains affiliate links.]


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