First Click: DIY happiness

September 1st, 2015

5

I’m exhausted and under intense time and financial pressures. Yet weirdly, I’ve never felt happier or more satisfied. See, I’m a home owner at the tail end of a major renovation and I just spent the last week covered in dust, paint, and what looks like blood.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doing all the heavy lifting — I paid men who wear plaid and cargo pants unironically for that. I’m just in for the finishing touches. The fun stuff like furniture assembly, wiring up the lamps for wireless control, integrating the ceiling speakers into my Sonos network, and setting up the family NAS on the new cat6 ethernet. Seeing all my plans come to fruition a few years after the project began is hugely rewarding on its own. But the fact that I’m complicit in its execution reminds me just how cathartic Do-It-Yourself can be.

Study after study has shown the psychological boost provided by handiwork, often citing the benefits for the elderly (knitters are especially happy people, it seems). But research also demonstrates the benefits of building something off the instructions on a Lego box. A 2011 study titled "The IKEA effect: When labor leads to love" is exactly what you think it is and helps explain why my house — after a week of intense labor — is starting to feel like a home.

As enticing as a night in front of the TV sounds right about now, I know that after binging on Netflix I’ll just feel lethargic and miserable like that sucker punch you get after downing a super-sized Big Mac combo. Yeah, I’m tired, but it’s a good tired knowing that I’m advancing towards a goal.

To be or not to be isn’t the question you should be asking. The correct question is to do or not to do? And for me, the answer is simple: do, don’t just be.

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