Throughout my life I’ve notice that, whenever I have been in crisis I have turned to making or doing something where I could see a tangible result. It might have been home decoration, chopping firewood or building something, but it always involved toil and product.
Making things is good for the soul. (If ‘soul’ is a turn-off for you and you want something more tangible, how about ‘sense of self’ or ‘identity’?)
Work is increasingly about using the mind and activities that don’t engage us physically. When we do do manual work it is often automated and with little of what can be called craftsmanship (this is a gender-neutral expression to convey a set of skills or talent for making things). There’s skill involved in both, but it’s hard to derive personal pride or any real sense of achievement from sitting in an office or standing in a shop.
While there’s no doubting the sense of achievement of closing a sale (been there), or completing a written project (done that), or crunching a pile of numbers into meaningful information (and that too), work that involves the body as well as the mind is more fulfilling and satisfying.
I don’t mean to devalue number-crunching, writing or providing important services. They are all important, but they are not enough. We’ve evolved to forge a path through life and in so doing shape our identity through the tangible and visible results of our efforts.
At one time, ‘work’ meant we’d be able to see the results of our efforts. With luck, we’d also have derived benefit from the care, attention and skill we’d employed.
When in doubt, make something. It’s great therapy.