For a brain that evolved to move the body around in complex ways to interact with the world around us, our increasingly effortless lifestyles result in an unengaged brain that receives few reminders that we have meaningful control over our environments. Our brains' interpretation of a lack of control in our increasingly chaotic lives leads to greater stress and anxiety that often culminates in the symptoms of depression. Incorporating physical activity that leads to tangible meaningful rewards in our lives, something I call effort-driven rewards, can act as a form of a mental vitamin that builds emotional resiliency. Even better, tasks that utilize our hands are especially effective considering that a large proportion of our brains' "real estate" is directed toward their movement. Thus, the "chores" that were a necessary component of our grandparent's lives likely lifted their emotions in powerful ways.
What Dr. Lambert describes can be observed in your own life. Woodworkers have called their time in the woodshop "sawdust therapy". All those who have had the opportunity to engage in tangible creative work shared with others, know the feelings of emotional vibrancy that emerge and sustain every aspect of self, including the brain power that enables clear thinking and problem solving. So the question becomes, "Is this something of value to pass on to our children?" So far, not so good. We are making the wrong choices by providing our children entertaining distractions from real life. Now who wants real life when we can live in perfect fantasy and delusion?
Peter Follansbee emailed about a visitor to his workshop at Plimoth Plantation:
I make reproductions of seventeenth-century furniture, all done with 19th & 20th century hand tools, that replicate a period tool kit…so lots of saws, chisels, planes, hatchets, benches & a pole lathe… I keep the workshop full to the brim of works in progress, sections of riven stock, and scads of tools. So there is plenty to see, in addition to the work underway at the bench. One day a young kid, less than 10 yrs old, walked up & asked me “Do you have anything here that’s 3D?” - now, that was a loaded question. I guessed at what he meant, but wanted to be sure, so I told him I was not sure what he was asking me, and asked him if he could explain. He said “ You know, it looks really real…”On another subject, I was contacted by a reader who had discovered the blog while doing research on his earlier life. He was a student in a photo taken by a photographer from the Omaha World Herald of my mother's Kindergarten class in January 1972. Curtis Sallis USMC Ret. remembers my mother as his very best teacher, and my mother remembers his very special gifts. Hearing from Curtis has brought a great deal of pleasure to my 87 year old mother. She often wonders about the hundreds of children who passed through her instruction and it means a lot to know that they are OK and that her caring is remembered.
I tried to explain that everything in the room was 3D and in fact quite real… but it was a wasted effort… Off he went, looking for holograms or some such thing.