I am a sucker for social science – studies about how people make decisions, learn better, or lead happy lives. I can never resist trying to connect such studies to my little slice of life. So when I read this recent post on the UC Berkley Greater Good Science Center blog, my wheels were spinning.
You can read the post or you can watch the TED talk by Matt Killingsworth but in a nutshell, research shows that ‘living in the moment’ or thinking about only what you are presently doing leads to greater happiness in the short run and in the long run.
I started thinking about the times when I am most likely to be “living in the moment” and thinking about the present, rather than what I’m going to make for dinner.
When am I most focused on the present? When engaged in something creative – taking or editing a photo, drawing, carving a stamp, sketching out a planting plan for my garden, or even writing a blog post. I am focused when making things… is that why creativity is so satisfying? Does a making things-happiness connection explain the explosion of DIY, upcycling, guerilla gardening in our culture?
Yes, there are other ways to quiet the mind and banish the tickertape of things to do, places to be, people to contact. Yoga, tennis, and a long walk come to mind, yet the simple (or sometimes not so simple) acts of creativity infuse life with its own special kind of joy. I have no idea if social science can back that up or not.
7 thoughts on “Mindfulness and making things”
I’d have to say I’m a huge believer in the peace and serenity I find from the process of making (stitching mostly in my case) – try Cat Bennets new book http://catbennett.net/2013/07/03/new-book-2/
I think she writes really well on the subject.
Thanks for the tip, Anny. I’ll pop right over and check it out. Sounds interesting!
This is fascinating stuff. What propels happiness is such a bizarre question…makes me question why I value most. It’s hard to divide the line between ‘mind wandering’ and ‘imagination’ though, and I think creativity goes hand-in-hand with that as well. Interesting…
I agree! I was thinking, half the fun of creating something is the daydreaming involved in planning and problem solving the process. It can be almost like a trance or a spell and can totally distract from whatever annoying chore you’re actually supposed to be doing… so not exactly mindfulness.
This post really resonates with me, as I am contemplating ways to break free from my iphone, and to find more quiet focus in my sewing room. I enjoy your blog so much – so glad I found it. Thanks!
Thank you so much, Cynthia! I need to work on breaking free of the iphone, too.( Love that phrasing!) Its hard to find that time but so worth it when we do!