Have you ever been so deep into a creative project that the rest of the world falls away?
According to new research reported in CNN this week, this experience -- what some psychologists call “flow” -- not only reduces anxiety and heals post-traumatic stress disorder, but it’s also the secret to happiness.
"When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life," Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said during a TED talk in 2004. "You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger."
This feeling of focused attention is similar to the effects of meditation, psychologists believe, a practice known for its myriad health benefits and long-term effect on happiness.
This research is supported by a number of studies on crafters. In one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling "very happy."
Add to this the feeling you get when you see your work on the wall or get compliments on your work, and the act of creation becomes a significant boost to your feelings of well-being.
Crafting may also prevent aging. According to a 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry, playing games, reading books and crafting could reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30% to 50%.
This is all great news for creative freelancers, who whether they’re crafting with their hands, their tablets and mouses, or their pens, are experiencing the benefits of “flow” everyday.
Are you happier when you’re creating?