First Click: DIY happiness

September 1st, 2015


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.

Five stories to start your day

  1. ‘Heart in a box’ keeps beating until transplanted

    The so-called "heart in a box" uses tubing and oxygen to pump blood and electrolytes into hearts from recently deceased patients, allowing the organs to continue functioning within a chamber. The system, developed by Massachusetts-based Transmedics, has been successfully deployed in at least 15 heart transplants in the UK and Australia, and is awaiting regulatory approval in the US.

  2. Grand Theft Auto 5 modders add Star Wars speeders and Star Destroyers

    Now, thanks to a mod for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5, you can fly another Imperial capital ship over the game's Los Angeles analog, Los Santos. The mod changes GTA 5's blimp, re-skinning it to appear as a classic Imperial Star Destroyer — the same ship that chases Princess Leia's Tantive IV in the opening shot of Star Wars: A New Hope.

  3. Samsung officially announces the Gear S2 smartwatch

    The company is still withholding crucial information like pricing and release date — but those probably aren't too far off. We're not even yet positive which phones it works with; if history is any indication, it'll be limited to Samsung's more recent devices. In today's press release, Samsung has revealed that its latest Tizen-powered watch will come in two models: the regular Gear S2 and a Gear S2 classic, which is aimed at consumers who "prefer more timeless watch design."

  4. Twitter tests Snapchat-style photo filters for the VMAs and US Open

    You may have been too focused on Kanye West's presidential run to notice last night, but Twitter is experimenting with Snapchat-style, location-based photo and video filters around big events. TechCrunch spotted a series of tweets from VMA nominees including Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams, and Big Sean featuring VMA-related stickers.

  5. Apple is reportedly planning to make its own movies and TV shows

    Variety says that Apple's plans are in the early stages, but that the company has increased its interest in producing its own TV shows or movies in recent months. The company reportedly made an offer to ex-Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond in July, before the trio were eventually snapped up by Amazon. Apple certainly has the coffers to be able to afford such deals, but the company may not have been ready to pull the trigger at the time, having reportedly pushed the launch of its rumored internet TV service back to 2016 at the earliest.

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