Mindfulness and making things

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.