Basic DIY Skills & A Life Well-Lived

Basic DIY Skills

In this modern age of on-demand everything, having a repertoire of basic DIY skills is becoming increasingly rare. Our culture has become less and less self-reliant with each passing year, and there’s a real hazard in that. Not only for practical purposes, but also for our own well-being, knowing basic DIY skills can add to your life in more ways than you might realize.

First, and most obvious, is that having a solid set of DIY skills can significantly impact your financial well-being. By mastering basic repair and maintenance tasks, you can save substantial amounts of money that would otherwise be spent on hiring service professionals and contractors. Undertaking simple projects yourself eliminates labor costs, making home improvement and maintenance more affordable.

But it’s about SO much more than that!

Being able to DO…IT…YOURSELF is about empowerment and nurturing a sense of agency.

{ Related: Essential DIY Skills for Fixer-Upper Homeowners }

Knowing how to use tools is becoming less common these days

Why are DIY skills less common these days?

Just a couple of generations ago, having basic DIY skills wasn’t optional–it was a necessity. Our very survival depended upon knowing how to do quite a lot for ourselves.

However, as more and more of our population moved into cities and away from the agrarian and rural lifestyle of the past, these skills dissipated. Within a community of many individuals, people begin to sort themselves into social classes with a general desire to avoid certain types of work if at all possible. Those who engaged in domestic work such as cooking, cleaning, and performing maintenance were seen as being a lower status, and they were usually compensated quite poorly for it.

But the joke’s on those who failed to learned basic DIY skills because the simple principles of supply and demand will always eventually come into play. When only a few people know how to perform plumbing tasks, the plumber’s skills become far more valuable. As a result, the cost for such services climbs. The same is true for numerous other domestic skills that were once considered lowly, but now garner a pretty penny because the average person either isn’t willing, or able, to perform them!

{ Related: Our DIY Mudroom Remodel on a Budget }

Basic DIY skills means knowing how to use basic tools around your home

The Cultural Shift Toward Self-Reliance

Currently, we’re witnessing a cultural shift toward greater self-reliance and an improved sense of well-being. In large part, it’s actually because of the loss of connection we have with our past and the ways we, as individuals, used to be able to provide for ourselves.

Today, people are beginning to see that they’ve built their own prisons and sacrificed their freedoms by creating a lifestyle that makes them dependent upon others to survive.

What we crave most is the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that’s derived by reclaiming control over more of the aspects of our lives from how we spend our money, to our self-expression, and also the mark we desire to leave on this world. These desires align with a cultural movement toward a more hands-on and empowered lifestyle that ultimately defines what it means to lead a life well-lived.

{ Related: From Homestead to Farmstead, Why We Made the Switch }

Doing things for yourself, like painting a room, improves well-being

5 Ways DIY Skills Lead to Improved Well-Being

Your well-being is connected to so many different facets of life, and learning how to do things for yourself is certainly a big part of that.

If you think about it, we’re basically hard-wired for it. We come into this world with an innate desire to learn how to do things for ourselves, have new experiences, and to grow and thrive.

Have you ever tried to help a young child with basically anything? They’re headstrong and confident, and they will absolutely insist that they can do it themselves. They don’t even care if they do it wrong, they are simply driven from somewhere deep inside to be in charge of their life.

These foundational ways that we’re put together don’t dissolve over time. Our culture simply conditions us to become more dependent and less self-reliant. We bury our instincts beneath layers of so-called social norms. But this leads to so much dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment in life.

There are several significant ways that being, or becoming, a DIYer can improve your quality of life:

Growing your own food is one way to practice self-reliance

1. Greater Independence

For starters, cultivating DIY skills can help to generate a sense of self-reliance and independence. As a DIY enthusiast, you become equipped to handle a wide array of tasks around your home, from simple repairs to more complex renovation projects. Having the ability to accomplish these tasks independently provides a sense of accomplishment and reduces dependency on external help.

Now, this isn’t to say that we should all be completely isolated. I don’t think we should reject the help of others in our lives. Just as we’re pre-programmed for learning how to do things on our own, we’re also hardwired for connection with others.

And knowing how to do something on your own doesn’t mean that you are always required to do so. Just because I know how to change the oil in my car doesn’t mean I can’t pay the service station to do it. That often saves me time that I can use to pursue more important goals in my life. But knowing how to do it means that I know what the service technician is talking about. That helps to ensure I make better decisions when it comes to maintaining my car.

So, developing independence actually makes you a better member of a community, too, because you have your own knowledge and insight to offer rather than just being part of the masses.

{ Related: Building a Critter-Proof Garden in 6 Days }

Basic DIY skills help you to express your creativity

2. Creative Expression

DIY skills also encourage creativity and customization. From designing unique furniture pieces to painting walls with custom colors, DIY skills enable you to turn your creative visions into reality. This not only enhances your living environment, but also provides a sense of ownership and pride in your accomplishments.

How boring would the world be if we all lived in the same cookie-cutter houses with the exact same decor? Sadly, that’s exactly what’s happening all around us. Even in our own small community, farmsteads are being plowed down and turned into subdivisions with a hundred houses where there once stood just one. These little boxes are packed so tightly to one another that you can’t even stretch out your arms to walk between them. And, you certainly can’t tell one from the other.

Everyone buys the same cheap, mass-produced decor that looks exactly like what their neighbor has. I have to wonder whether they would immediately notice if they accidentally walked into the neighbors’ home instead of their own!

Having the basic DIY skills to express your creativity and to bring your unique vision to life makes the world more vibrant and interesting. That’s something we need much more of!

{ Related: How to Refinish Wood Furniture }

Learning how to do more complicated DIY projects help lead to grit

3. Cultivation of Grit

Having basic DIY skills certainly fosters a greater understanding of the world around you. Through hands-on experience, you learn about various materials, tools, and techniques involved in different DIY projects. This knowledge is valuable and can be applied in countless situations, both within and outside of your home.

But, more than that, understanding how things work and how to fix them builds problem-solving abilities and a practical mindset. When you encounter obstacles or failures, you’re able to use your knowledge and DIY skills to figure out how to overcome the problem you’re facing. Each of these types of experiences accumulates as grit.

Grit is defined as the passion and perseverance you have toward achieving a long-term goal. When you put your basic DIY skills to use, it enhances your conviction in your ability to overcome the struggles you might face. It’s like making a deposit into your own personal bank of self-confidence.

The more grit you accumulate, the more you know what you’re capable of accomplishing through hard work and the right mindset.

{ Related: Why Letting Go is so Difficult }

Knowing how to sew equates to sustainability because you can mend fabric and clothing

4. A Focus on Sustainability

Embracing DIY skills also contributes to sustainability and environmental consciousness. Repairing and repurposing items rather than discarding them and buying new ones minimizes waste and reduces your ecological footprint. By extending the lifespan of your belongings through repairs and upgrades, you contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. This is crucial in today’s world with increasing environmental challenges.

Whether people always act like it or not, I think most people would say that they value the idea of leaving the world better than how they found it. It seems like a common life goal for many of us. We want to feel that we’ve made a positive contribution with our time here. Sustainability is one way to achieve that.

Knowing that you’re leaving the world healthier for the next generation just flat out feels good. Whether you’re a parent or not, we all hope that future generations will strive for betterment. Making a contribution toward that goal can improve your sense of well-being.

{ Related: How We Protect Our Groundwater }

No matter your age, you can continue to acquire DIY skills that make you more self-reliant

5. Lifelong Learning

Perhaps most importantly, obtaining and enhancing your DIY skills can be a fulfilling hobby that promotes lifelong learning and personal growth. The journey of acquiring and honing these skills is ongoing, as there is always something new to learn and master. The satisfaction of seeing a project completed with your own hands, the knowledge gained, and the continuous improvement in your abilities can be immensely gratifying and motivating.

This is akin to that old saying that the journey is more important than the destination.

I honestly hope that I never stop having the opportunity to learn a new way to provide for myself with DIY skills–whether they be basic skills, or more advanced. Each problem I encounter as a DIYer is another chance to learn something, and that’s extremely valuable to me.

Starting our farm has given us all of that and more. We’re learning so much all the time because working with Mother Nature means discovering new ways to improve continually.

{ Related: How to Avoid Burnout While Striving for a Life Well-Lived }

Being able to accomplish projects on your own leads to improved well-being in life

Self-Reliance and a Life Well-Lived

There’s no question, possessing DIY skills is a valuable asset that impacts various aspects of our lives. From financial savings to personal growth, independence, and sustainability, the benefits of mastering DIY skills are vast and multifaceted. Cultivating these skills is not just a practical choice but a step towards a more empowered and resourceful lifestyle.

Philosophers, psychologists, and great minds have debate the definition of a life “well-lived” for thousands of years. Generally speaking, most would agree that it comes down to living in a way that is fulfilling, meaningful, and purposeful.

As a post-doc psychosocial researcher, I have spent a significant part of my life studying these very concepts. To that basic definition, I would add that one must also feel that their life is connected to something bigger than themselves, and that they have a sense of freedom.

Developing self-reliance through DIY skills is just one of the many ways to cultivate that sense of freedom. But I think it’s an especially important one because it’s also a bridge to our heritage. Preserving the knowledge and skills to provide for ourselves is a way to remain connected to our roots, to understand who we are, and to know where we came from.

I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s something deeply valuable in that.

What farming and self-reliance means to me

Why I think it matters…

When I’m working on our farm, I often feel as though I’m surrounded by my ancestors. It makes me think about what they contributed to my very being on this earth. I wonder if perhaps I have an affection for a particular flower because some great-great grandmother in my family tree loved the same one. Or is it natural for me to wake with the sunrise because something in my DNA came from the many generations of farmers before me?

In how many ways is my life of working with my own hands a reflection of those upon whose shoulders I stand?

I may never know. But I do have the firm conviction that my life is connected to something bigger than me. I feel this through the bridge to my heritage just as strongly as I do through my connection with my faith.

My friend, it is one of my deepest hopes that we all find ways to cultivate the self-reliance that helps us enjoy more freedoms in this life and connection to our roots. If we do this, then I feel we are, indeed, one step closer to a life well-lived.

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