Makes perfect sense to me

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From Big Think:

Does manual labor boost happiness?

The author detours to set up a story and then, a few paragraphs later, gets to his thesis.

As Luddites were raging against machines, neuroscientist Kelly Lambert says doctors were prescribing knitting to anxious women. Medical professionals sensed that the act of working with their hands calmed housewives. It appears that using our biological inheritance, a wonderful adaptation of bipedalism—dexterous and flexible hands featuring opposable thumbs—is necessary for optimal mental health.

Sure, the Luddites were concerned about feeding their family, not weaving cotton per se, but losing such an integral part of your identity forces you to confront your value as a sentient being. The combination of repetitive movement (of say, knitting) and the production of a tangible product (a hat or scarf) can be therapeutic. Lambert coined the term "behaviorceuticals" to honor this valuable drug.

In her most recent book, Well Grounded, Lambert notes the devastating effects automation technologies wreak on our brains:

Our view of prosperity in contemporary Western societies with creature comforts such as lush surroundings and various personal services to avoid physical effort may suffocate our neural functions.

Matthew Crawford agrees. He was "always sleepy" while employed at a D.C. think tank. Though earning more money than ever before, he felt a valuable piece of himself being lost. He left the lucrative position to become an auto mechanic, which resulted in his 2009 book, Shop Class as Soulcraft.

In it he posits the idea that as a society we've gotten the role of work backwards. Instead of championing manual labor, which he says is more intellectually engaging than his desk job, we choose to financially and socially reward careers that rely on computers to work for us. With industrialization came automation as warehouse owners sought to maximize capital while minimizing labor costs. In this two-century-long process, an essential part of our humanity is gone.

A lot more at the site - I totally agree with this. I am a lot more fulfilled when working with my hands.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on January 7, 2019 5:37 PM.

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