* Rates of depression have risen in recent decades, at the same time that people are enjoying time-saving conveniences such as microwave ovens, e-mail, prepared meals, and machines for washing clothes and mowing lawns.
* People of earlier generations, whose lives were characterized by greater efforts just to survive, paradoxically, were mentally healthier. Human ancestors also evolved in conditions where hard physical work was necessary to thrive.
* By denying our brains the rewards that come from anticipating and executing complex tasks with our hands, we undercut our mental well-being.
The above is a description of an article called Depressingly Easy, written by Kelly Lambert, whose book, Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientist's Hands-On Approach to Activating Your Brain's Healing Power, turns many of the prevalent ideas about what improves your mood upside down. If you have difficulty maintaining a good mood, even when you try mental techniques, I urge you to read her book.
The basic premise is that when you use your hands to make things, it stimulates the motor circuits of your brain, and it stimulates them far more than using any other part of your body. The motor circuits of your brain, when you stimulate them like this, automatically cause your brain to produce hormones that raise your mood.
The amount of your motor circuits devoted to your hands is far more than the circuits dedicated to the entire rest of your body. If you want to stimulate the brain hormones most responsible for feeling good, use your hands to make things. Read more about it here: Depressingly Easy.
Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.