One of the things I have been fascinated with as a Resilience & Joy Focused practitioner, are the hidden costs of living in a technologically focused age with all of it’s “time saving” and “efficient” devices that have been taking over tasks that humans engaged in by hand over centuries. While, many of these technological advancements have provided enormous benefits in every arena of life, they have also inadvertently relegated to the ‘lost’ pile, certain vital mental, physical and relational benefits and most importantly the satisfaction that joy that can only be derived from living a hands-on life.
Dr. Carrie Baron, the author of The Creativity Cure, How to Build Happiness with Your Own Two Hands, writes eloquently about the ways in which,
“hands-on work satisfies our primal need to make things and could also be an antidote for our cultural malaise. Too much time on technological devices and the fact that we buy almost all of what we need rather than having to make it has deprived us of processes that provide pleasure, meaning and pride. Making things promotes psychological well-being. Process is important for happiness because when we make, repair or create things we feel vital and effective. It isn’t as much about reaching one’s potential as doing something interesting–less about ambition and more about living. When we are dissolved in a deeply absorbing task we lose self-consciousness and pass the time in a contented state.”
Dr. Kelly Lambert, neuroscientist at University of Richmond, who explores the relationship between hand use, current cultural habits, and mood, has shown that “hand activity from knitting to woodworking to growing vegetables or chopping them are useful for decreasing stress, relieving anxiety, and modifying depression. There is value in the routine action, the mind rest, and the purposeful creative, domestic or practical endeavor. Functioning hands also foster a flow in the mind that leads to spontaneous joyful, creative thought. “
What is immensely healing and corrective from a psychological stand point with all of these activities, is the emphasis on the process of doing and creating rather than accomplishing or competing. Finding satisfaction in the process of creation, helps create new neural pathways to feeling self esteem and confidence and a sense of pleasure and satisfaction in life.
Here are 5 simple and gratifying ways we can return to more hands on activities and help our brains and bodies build resilience, and experience joy through a sensory rich life.
Everywhere i go in the bay area, I find myself drawn to those glorious yellow wild flowers-brave banners of spring-heralding new life to come. Full disclosure: I am a sucker for spring and her magic. I don't quite know how nature does it, but no matter how far stuck in our urban, computer driven lives we get, that rising sap in the trees, the rising light and heat, & the little yellow flower that will push it's way through the tiniest crack in the most hardened concrete street, also swells up & pushes through the most disheartened of hearts. Born of a forgotten seed called hope. A little yellow flower named dream.
And gosh, is that flower pushing up everywhere. Inside my heart and that of my friends and clients. It looks like wanting to start to exercise again, or wanting to dust off that dream to start a side business, to go after a promotion, or think about having a baby, or that most spring like of urges-to open to dating and love again. At times, it's more akin to having a good weed whacking party-from the iconic physical space decluttering, to wanting to make space for grief, clearing undercurrents of anger, or getting under a stubborn despondency that just hasn't gone away. Or, even harder to pinpoint, but so valid-it can look like an urge to stop doing so much and finally stop and rest in what is.
It's not about the goals-your particular band of flower growing or weed clearing-it's more about alerting you to these urges that are rising and inviting you not to trample these flowers. It's about how you respond to that tiny voice inside you that is urging you to open this spring-and find out exactly what kind of dream is budding inside.
Diagnosing Your Spring Fever-So if your spring fever looks like restlessness, like wanting to day dream more or go outside, like feeling like something is missing, feeling bored or sad or lonely. Before you label these emotions, as we have been used to being labeled since we were young, as unfocused, depressed, distracted or ungrateful-it might be worthwhile to actually think of them as a start to a wonderful conversation.
Same goes for the more tangible desires-that persistent idea that keeps nagging you, that goal you keep putting to the bottom of your list with a sigh, that vacation you keep hearing about but never allowed yourself to have, those jobs you keep meaning to apply to, that fun activity that just needs to be put on a calendar.
How to Handle It? Now that you know that you have the signs, and that spring fever is a hopeful condition. Next, it's time for the conversation.
Rules of Engagement? Get Grounded & Present.
Get Kind, Curious, And Open. That means no shutting down what this part has to say just because you are not sure how to make it happen.
Ask-where do I feel this urge in my body? Put your hand there.
If it could speak what would it say? Trust the first things that come.
Ask it what it's afraid of or upset about? Let it get all of that fear & upset out.
Ask That Part, what it wants? Let it get all that want out.
Ask That Part, Is there anything I can do now to help you? Listen. See if you can meet it.
Ask That Part, Is there anything I can do in the coming weeks to make this happen? Listen. See if you can meet it.
Make small concrete plans (putting it in calendar, booking it, making a budget for it, researching it). Tell that part, if I cannot do this, I will get help. And make a plan for getting help.
Thank yourself for sharing your dreams.
Thank yourself for learning how to pause and respond to those dreams.
If you have a connection with something larger than yourself; Unconditional love, the universe, light, God, Source Energy-now Is the time to surrender this to something larger and ask it to come to your assistance too.
Want To Be A Green Thumb Gardener Of Dreams? If this ability to get good at noticing your inner state, reducing your reactivity, and clearing your limiting beliefs is one you'd like to build, with great support from loving community, and ever greater support from a connection with the Unconditional Loving Energy of All That Is-come join us at the Spring ThetaHealing Classes, and let's do our spring cleaning together.
And when you see those lovely spring flowers waving their bright heads your way, may your heart open to their bright promise with tenderness, and then may it open again to the sweetness of your own dreams-
Welcome To Joyous Resilience! May this space serve as a warm, welcoming & inspiring resource for all things related to Healing, Joy & Resilience.
At the Heart Of It:
Resilience matters. Joy matters. In the increasingly difficult times we live in--our Thriving matters. Now MORE Than Ever.
Here's how I like to think of Resilience: it is the inoculation against stress and trauma that allows joy to emerge so we can thrive.
Where trauma is a grievous breakdown in safety and connection that erodes our ability to feel joy and thrive. Resilience is the ability to withstand, stand back up from and transform the effects of life’s stressors and traumas into greater strength, compassion and wisdom.
The JUICY CORE of Resilience--You Are Just a "Hunk Of Burning Love" ; ):
At its core is a sound inner relationship—one where we are able to ally with, protect and nurture ourselves in a world full of factors outside of our control.
Anjuli Sherin, LMFT
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