Health

DIY happiness

When looking to increase your happiness, have you ever considered just using your own two hands?

Mark Frauenfelder, editor of Boing Boing and author of Made By Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World, explains how learning to make more of the things he consumes has increased his happiness.

Q: Why did you start this DIY project?

A: I wanted to be more appreciative of my life, and I suspected that if I participated more directly in the things that kept me an my family fed, educated, and entertained, I might develop a deeper connection to the things I use every day. It turns out I was right.

Q: Which of your DIY projects made you happier and why?

A: The simple act of making my own yogurt makes me the happiest. I eat yogurt everyday, and I like my yogurt better than any store-bought yogurt. I also like playing my cigar box guitars on an almost daily basis. It’s a nice break to pick one up and play it for five minutes.

Q: What’s the connection between handmade goods and happiness?

A: When you make something yourself — a wooden spoon, a musical instrument, an omelet from your chickens’ eggs, you become more aware of what you are doing. Being observant allows you to appreciate these good things in life.

Q: What’s the connection between being observant and happiness?

A: If you aren’t observant, your mind wanders. I’ve suspected that a wandering, unfocused mind leads to unhappiness, and a recent scientific study bears this out. In short, when you are focused, it means you are engaged and aware of what is going on, which is a rewarding feeling.

Q: Have you had any DIY disasters or any projects that actually diminished your happiness?

A: Not really. I’ve been frustrated by things that go wrong, but at least the disasters become good stories!

Q: What’s your advice for anyone who wants a greater connection to the things they consume?

A: Start by making things that will have an effect on your daily life. Growing and preparing food (sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, honey, eggs) has a lot of bang for the buck and your friends and family will love you for it.