Typically when I think of health benefits the first thing that comes to my mind is eating properly, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. Woodworking is not the first thing on that list. But looking back over the last two decades, I can see the health benefits to it.
The first and obvious thought most of us have when we think about woodworking is just getting some time to get into the shop. The thought of your woodworking project stimulates your mind. It builds excitement and anticipation. These simple innocent feelings are a positive sign because they move us into the next phase, goal setting.
I once was told, if an idea doesn’t have goals, it’s just a dream. Yet, we may not think of doing woodworking as ‘setting goals’. But in a basic way it is. We have to decide what project we are going to build? Where will it go in the house? How big will the project be? What wood will be used? What joinery will it have? And what color will it end up with? These are all basic steps of planning and organizing. Once these questions have been answered we now have our goals.
Of course, once we start down our path of building we are most likely going to run into a problem. Some problems might be easy to solve, such as recutting a board to length. Other problems might be big, such as a design not working or a joint not fitting together. Either way, we are now developing problem-solving skills. This is the part that is most frustrating for me, and yet, I absolutely love the challenge of finding a solution. And each one of these problems with the solutions adds to my knowledge and experience for future projects.
However, before finding the solution to the problem I need to have patience. Many times I want to have the answer immediately. I just want to fix the mistake and get back to work. But it doesn’t always work that way. So woodworking is teaching me to have patience. It’s a reminder to myself I need to be humble that things won’t always work out my way. And it also is a lesson to be forgiving. Forgiving to myself. I always strive to be perfect. But no one is. So now I try to allow myself to be human and just strive for excellence in my work, not perfection.
And lastly, when the project is finished I have the confidence that I was able to follow through on the project from the very beginning to the very end. A lot of people can start something, but it takes focus and determination to complete it.
So in conclusion, some people might say that setting goals, problem-solving, patience, and focus are not health benefits. But I would say that those qualities together build and increase our self-esteem. Our self-esteem can bring us peace and contentment in our life. Which in turn benefits our mental health. And isn’t that what life is all about? It’s just about being happy with who we are.
Do what you love, and love what you do. A simple saying that we all can benefit from.
Chad Stanton- 1-31-2022