I recently read a fascinating article in the Whole Living magazine (May 2011) about the psychology of happiness and well being. Martin Seligman has a new book out: Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, (Simon and Schuster). It is on my list of books to read, but the article had some tantalizing tidbits that I can share with you here. In his book Seligman focuses on 5 aspects of well being, the initials of which spell out PERMA. I am going to tell you why I believe knitting, crocheting, weaving and other crafts ( but these especially) are a key path to happiness and satisfaction. The following ideas are my own interpretation, and I fully disclose that I haven't read the book yet.
Positive Emotion: For many of us, just walking into a yarn shop, or touching soft yarn, or losing ourselves in color is enough to make us happy.
Engagement: "When we're truly engrossed in a task that demands our attention, our sense of self recedes and time feels as if it has slowed or even stopped" direct quote. Ever get lost in your knitting?
Relationships: This yarn biz is very different from most retail in that relationships are at the very core of a successful shop. People make new friends in classes, or they simply plop themselves down on a couch and stitch away until someone tells them their whole life story. Then there are the guilds, knitting groups, and other clubs that are offshoots. There are the on-line communities as well. Try bringing out your project at a festival sometime. Instant friends.
Meaning: So many knitters and crocheters donate their products as a matter of course. Sometimes it is a hat or a toy for a local child, sometimes it is to help raise funds for tragedies that happen on the other side of the world. Stitchers are always ready to help someone else, while still engaged in a favorite activity.
Accomplishment: Yes - occasionally you get to finish things. Then you get to show your yarn shop friends and post it on Ravelry, You might even get to wear it and receive compliments, or gift it and receive heartfelt thanks. Whether you have made a cowl, or a blanket, you get a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.
There you have it. I am really looking forward to reading the book, and getting more in depth information about all of these areas, but I am here to say: Stitching is here to stay - or rather permanent!