Recently my husband severed his Achilles feeding a chicken! That’s right you heard it right. The story is complicated so I’ll explain when I see you.
ANYWAY, we were sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to be seen after surgery and in my frazzled, stressed condition, I decide to treat myself for a minute and read. So I start reading about The Little House on the Prairie and suddenly my life seemed like a skate compared to the Ingalls and yet they were so happy. Seriously….. who wants to scrub clothes in a bucket, work in the fields and chase off the locusts. I mean who has time to cook three meals a day and do all of this! Yet their every happiness, their very existence, is created from the work of their own hands. Yet I’m walking around feeling sorry for myself because I’ll be picking up the slack! So I’m thinking “Work it out Sista! It’s not the end of the world. Get up and get busy.”
It really is true. I realize that I’m happiest when accomplishing tangible productive work—working in the yard, hand washing my dishes and even plucking away at my computer brings me happiness. This does not surprise Kelly Lambert Ph.D, who is, like me a mother, wife and all around Ma Ingalls. She has been researching the phenomenon she calls “effort-rewards.” When you do meaningful work with our hands, a kind of neurochemical feedback floods your brain with dopamine and serotonin. These happy brain chemicals are natural antidepressants, and we’ve evolved to release them both to reward ourselves for working with our hands and to motivate ourselves to do it some more. Dr. Lambert says Americans have become more depressed in recent years and at the same time we’ve experienced a decrease in purposeful physical activity. Did we lose something vital to our mental health when we started pushing buttons instead of plowing the fields? I know that seems extreme but it does make a point.
Dr. Pansinski says she gets that happy look what I did! feeling when she prepares a meal at the end of a day filled with the more intangible tasks of managing her medical practice. “We are programmed to reward ourselves when we accomplish things with our hands. I think for so many people, it just feels as though everything’s going so fast- life, kids, hundreds of emails a day. There is so little we do now that you can really see and hold on to. Working with one’s hands is a way to slow down, to savor, to take pleasure in life again.” It’s your brain rewarding you for a job well done. So I challenge you. Try it and see how a little elbow grease makes you feel.
Don’t expect me to become best friends with the washboard and plow but I’m going to try and get through this trying time with some busy work, faith and WINE. According to the doctor, it will be Christmas time before we are done with the Achilles ordeal. I say WE because I love my husband dearly no matter what comes into our lives.
P.S. Stay tuned for a good recipe for FRIED CHICKEN on the site!