04 Sep Convenience Kills
Up until a few generations ago, people’s lives involved significantly more physical effort to complete basic tasks like cooking, cleaning the house and washing clothes. Whilst this makes our lives easier today, our mental health is taking the hit and rates of depression are higher than ever.
Kelly Lambert, a professor of behavioural neuroscience, thinks that by making everyday tasks ever more convenient, we’re robbing our brains of the benefits we get from anticipating and executing complex tasks with our hands.
The theory is that our brain’s produce profound satisfaction and joy from the tangible, visible results of our physical activities. Importantly, this is most effective when these efforts hold meaning in securing the essential resources for survival. Essentially, this mechanism was Nature’s way of preventing early humans from becoming idle and unproductive. A day spent idly didn’t put freshly hunted game on the fire or contribute to maintaining a secure dwelling.
Lambert refers to this emotional benefit as the “effort-driven rewards” phenomenon. Beyond the boost to our psychological well-being, this type of effort also yields other valuable advantages. We feel an amplified sense of control over our surroundings, an influx of positive emotions, and, perhaps most crucially, an augmented resilience against mental disorders such as depression.
So what can we do? CRAFT
As any craft involves complex hand movements which creates tangible results, it activates the effort-driven rewards circuit in your brain and produces all of the mental health and well-being benefits which motivated early humans survival. So the best way to hack this early evolutionary tool of the human psyche is pick up you paints and glue gun and get creating this #craftember!
Source: “Depressingly Easy” in SA Mind 19, 4, 30-37 (August 2008) doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0808-30