Zen and the art of making cookies

Baking allows you to express yourself, which studies show can lead to a better sense of well-being. Baking compels you to be mindful and to focus on the task at hand.

It requires that you shut off your brain and the outside world and remain in the moment. For me, it is one of the best, relaxing feelings in the world.

I want you to have that feeling.

I was lucky enough to have a mother that taught me the baking basics at a young age. But whether you were born wearing an apron or are a baking novice, you too can feel the Zen.

Baking is as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. Check out YouTube for tutorials. Search the internet for easy recipes — a great peanut butter cookie can be made with only 1 egg, 1 cup of peanut butter and 1 cup of sugar. You also don’t need a from-scratch recipe. Call in the Pillsbury Dough Boy for help. Slice up a roll of sugar cookie dough, bake and add your own sprinkles and frosting. There’s also a selection of mixes to choose from that requires only some oil and an egg.

Finding your Zen has everything to do with the creative process, not your prowess
in the kitchen.

While you are at it, grab a helper. Even the smallest of kids can help decorate. Your child will enjoy spending time with you in the kitchen doing something fun, and they — or maybe both of you — will also be learning life skills. Everyone needs to know how to read a set of directions, and feed themselves.

When I bake, I’m almost always baking for family, friends or co-workers. In addition to all the good feelings I get creating the baked goods, they multiply when I am able to share what I make with others.

Practice altruism by giving some baked goods to one of your older neighbors. Spreading joy is contagious and after your child sees the neighbor’s face light up, your child will want to do it again. (For more advice on teaching giving to your child, click here).

It’s getting closer to my annual Christmas cookie baking marathon. For many years, I have set aside 48 hours in mid-December when I make all the cookies I will give as gifts. Dozens and dozens of cookies will be piled high waiting to be assembled for delivery. I’m excited to know that I’ll once again be feeling that Zen.

Baking cookies for others this time of year is as much a gift for me as it is for those on the recipient list.

Happy holidays to you and yours.

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