I think most of us can say that we strive to be happy. It’s been proven that money doesn’t primarily affect how happy we are, so what makes us happy?
As a cake designer, I have known for many years that the process of designing, baking, and decorating one-of-a-kind cakes makes me extremely satisfied and happy. It is why I do what I do.
Interestingly, it has become increasing recognised by mental health experts that baking can be very beneficial in helping relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. But why is this and is it worth donning your apron in pursuit of happiness?
Baking can’t be rushed; it requires precision and attention. When working slowly and accurately, moving from one step to the next, you are in control. I’m sure like me you may have tried to bake in a rush and left out an ingredient or set the oven to the wrong temperature… it doesn’t work! Baking is time to enjoy taking things slowly.
Have you ever thought about the myriad of delicious scents and aromas that surround you as you prepare your baking ingredients? The citrus scent of zested oranges, the woody fragrance of freshly grated nutmeg and the floral sweetness of honey are to name but a few. Once combined and baked these ultimately culminate in the gorgeous stomach rumbling smells of wonderful freshly baked cakes.
Now, you may have heard of aromatherapy and the benefits that it gives us, but the powerful aromas from baking can in many ways be just as effective. Associated with nurturing, goodness and a cosy home life, baking aromas make us happy.
Have you ever wondered why it feels so satisfying to use our hands? Research has shown that half our brain’s cortex is mapped to our hands. Unsurprisingly, this means that to keep our brains healthy we need to use our hands. Mixing cake batter, icing cakes and then adding decorations certainly fills this brief. It also keeps our hands physically flexible too.
Whilst it’s good to experience peace and quiet in the kitchen, having someone to share the joys of baking and decorating can be even better. Arranging time to work together as a team to create delicious memories is certainly an excellent way to enjoy each other’s company and have fun at the same time.
People often say to me, “Lindy, I can’t do what you do because I’m not creative!” I would encourage you to think again; we are all innately creative. Creativity is like a muscle in our bodies – if we don’t use it, it will wither and become redundant, but if we do use creativity and keep using it, it will become stronger, more powerful and more satisfying.
Using your creativity, challenging yourself and pushing your skills to the limit will allow you to forget your worries. Creativity is all about being in the present moment, completely immersed in what you are doing. I find that when I am deeply involved in a cake design project time seems to disappear. I am so immersed in the moment that I simply don’t want to stop.
According to eminent Hungarian psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, our nervous system is incapable of processing more than about 110 bits of information per second. So, when you are really involved in a completely engaging process of creating something new, there is simply not enough attention left over to monitor how your body feels – how wonderful!
It is well documented that giving, especially of something you have created with love, will make you feel extremely good. Making others happy boosts your confidence and gives you a real sense of belonging and a gift of a cake will be remembered long after it has been eaten.
Cake decorating, as a way of boosting our happiness, works in many ways and at different levels. Can I persuade you to give it a try? You don’t need to feel daunted by baking and decorating large cakes. Start small, with say cookies or cupcakes. Arm yourself with a good reference book and make a start to baking your way to a happier healthier life.
Are you an avid or occasional baker? Do you like cake decorating? Do you have other creative outlets? What benefits do you find from using your hands in creative pursuits? What are the activities where you become immersed and lose the sense of time? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Tags Hobbies for Women