Even if you are outside of the U.S., it's still a good time to acknowledge the benefits of Thanksgiving - with so much turmoil, violence, and intolerance in the world, it's good to remember what's right with the world and our own lives, whether that be our heath, our relationships and friendships, or just the little pleasures of an average day.
And now on to this month's ideas and inspirations:
1: THINKING OR LISTENING?
Tjin Touber wrote an interesting article about enlightenment in ODE magazine. Here's one of the things he said:
"If you're cut off from your heart while at a crossroads in your life, the choices you make will be unnatural. Deep inside you know what is right, and the trick is to listen to that voice. Listening takes time, attention, and silence. When at a crossroads you can do one of two things: think or listen. Thinking is doubting and usually takes you further away from your inner knowledge whereas listening brings you toward it."
ACTION: At this time of year, the pace picks up and gets more hectic. Give yourself a present: the time to sit quietly somewhere and just listen to the messages from your heart. What do they tell you about the year that's almost gone? What do they suggest for the best way to enjoy this season and to make the most of the year coming up?
Give it enough time to get past the mind-chatter, the "I shouldn't haves" and the "I shoulds" that will clamour for your attention first; after they quiet down, you'll get more in touch with any messages that are about being rather than doing.
2: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?
Several studies have shown that hospital patients need less pain medication and take less time to recover when they have a view of nature to look at from their windows. Even a mural of nature lowered dental patients' blood pressure, compared to just looking at a plain wall. What are you looking at?
ACTION: Naturally we don't all have natural vistas to look upon from our windows, but it's easy enough to buy some great calendars with scenic views, and to keep changing them often enough that the sight refreshes us anew. (If you're not into nature, calendars featuring your favourite animals, or pictures of babies may also work).
3: MASTERING MOTIVATION
A study written up in the British Journal of Health Psychology reveals when students were asked how much they intended to exercise in the coming week, they were more likely to indicate a strong intention if they were first asked about how much they would regret it if they didn't exercise. If they were asked about their intention first, and then how much they'd regret it, they expressed a lesser intention. In other words, at least on the level of intention, it works better to consider first how guilty you'll feel if you don't do something, and then decide what you can do to make sure you don't actually experience that guilt.
ACTION: When you're planning your week (or your day) move ahead in your imagination to the end of that period. What would you regret not doing? Then decide what you need to do in order to feel good at the end of the day.
4: HOW TO HAVE A BEAUTIFUL MIND
In his recent book, "How to Have a Beautiful Mind," lateral thinking expert Edward de Bono gives some great examples of my favourite strategy: Do something different. For example, the idea that Tuesday should be declared violence-free day in the Middle East. His theory is then people would look forward to Tuesdays and begin to wonder why every day couldn't be like Tuesdays, and that would create pressure for peace. Sounds crazy, but it might just work!
ACTION: If there is some big change you want to make in your life, why not start doing it for one day a week first? For example, eat only healthy food on Tuesdays, or exercise every Wednesday, or stop smoking on Thursdays. Notice how those days feel, and when you're ready, add another day, and soon you may find that you've made a major change.
5: MAKE A GIFT OF YOURSELF
Because I'm off to the States for a month soon, the next Creativity bulletin won't be with you until a week before Christmas, so forgive me for bringing up this topic so early! Just a suggestion: the greatest gift you can give is your own time and attention. Why not make some gift certificates - in this case, not for a book or a record, but for a day or an evening of your time, spent in whatever way the recipient wants to spend it? For example, a certificate that says you'll treat them to a film or play of their choice, or a picnic on a day the sun is shining, or cooking them a dinner. You'll be creating a memory as well as a gift.
ACTION: While you're at it, make up a few for yourself, too - half a dozen certificates that you can 'spend' during the coming year, for time on your own, going to a museum or gallery, or taking the train to a town you've never been to and just wandering around, or a day off when the circus comes to town.
6: AND A THOUGHT FROM WRITER PAULO COELHO:
"We tend to assume that life will give us another chance tomorrow at whatever came up yesterday and today. But if we really pay attention, we see that no single day is like another. Every morning brings a hidden blessing that serves only for that day and cannot be saved or used again. If we don't use today's gift, it will be lost."