Category Archives: Creativity and Healing

7 Ways to Have a Real Thanksgiving

Recently I asked a friend, “What do you think is the importance of gratitude?” He said, “I feel good. It opens my heart up. Maybe that is enough. But it is a form of delight. I have a need to get to the feeling of gratitude. I can’t will it, but instead I must feel it. It comes from the act of giving. God gives us all this abundance. Gratitude is a feeling you show toward kindness or a blessing.” Wow!

Of course, it’s easier to feel deeply grateful when life is going well. But the practice and real treasure comes when you express appreciation for life even when it’s difficult.

Professors of Psychology Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons did research on gratitude and thanksgiving. Their studies found that daily gratitude exercises lead to higher alertness, enthusiasm, optimism, and more energy. They also found that grateful people feel more loved, less stressed, and less depressed. They exercise more regularly and make more progress on personal goals. All this from having gratitude for something! And each day, there is something to be grateful for.

As our gratitude holiday approaches, my practice is to keep my thoughts focused on what it’s truly about (between running to the store for more cranberries…). Here are my 7 ways to have a real Thanksgiving.

1. List 10 parts of your body that function reliably. For example, your ears, eyes, heart, bladder, kidneys, knees, ankles, toes, fingers, wrists, stomach, nose, eyebrows…

2. List 10 things that make you happy.

3. List 10 people who have helped you in the past, no matter how small.

4. List 10 people you have helped, no matter how small.

5. List 10 things you are grateful for in your life.

6. List all of the good that has come into your life in the last 5 years.

7. Complete the following sentence: I’m so happy and grateful now that…

The Healing Power of Art

Jim Dine, artist. "Four Hearts" 1969

Jim Dine, artist. “Four Hearts” 1969

Creativity can be deeply healing. A wise colleague told me that in his 30 years as a healer he never saw a person with growths in the body who didn’t also have repressed creativity. This makes sense. We are born to create. Whether we design, invent, paint, draw, color, write, sculpt, build, weave, bake, or tend a garden, creative energy needs an outlet. Let’s talk about the healing power of art.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy is neither created nor destroyed but is changed from one form to another. The energy inherent in the desire to create is given outward expression and transformed into a song, a garden, a new deck, a soup. We don’t have to think of creativity only in the form of art such as painting. When we watch children they show us a variety of creative expression. Maybe you pushed your creativity aside as you grew older, but your ability to create something new is still there.

When creativity is held inside it’s like a stream blocked by a dam. The water has no place to go. When a stream is blocked, it changes into a puddle or a pond. There isn’t any forward movement, only stagnation. What if the same thing happens in the human body when creativity has no place to go? Since creativity can be seen as energy, a force desirous of movement, what happens when it’s blocked? Could it contribute to growths in the body?

Do you remember a time when you created effortlessly? What did you love? Colored pencils, fabric, paint, clay, daydreaming, crayons, crafts, yarn, dirt, plants, and flowers? Take a moment to remind yourself of all the ways you loved to create. Which of these could you begin again?