The Rebbe Nachman of Breslow often said, ï¿½Always remember-Joy
is not merely incidental to your spiritual quest. It is vital.ï¿½
As the years have gone by and Iï¿½ve been in the practice of psychology
over 20 years, I have become more and more convinced that he was
so right, that joy is not an option. When we take away joy and we
take away a sense of well-being, a sense that we are thriving, we
allow ourselves or seem to find ourselves in circumstances that
seem to drain, tire and weaken us. We are no longer the whole human
being that is our birthright!
THE ENCHANTED SELF is a positive psychology approach to mental
health that works both in the treatment room and out. I teach people
the techniques they need to start to think in positive ways about
themselves and their world. Thus I teach them how to see what is
right about themselves, rather than what is wrong. I also teach
them to appreciate their own life story, its ups and downs; the
roller coaster ride that we all go on. I teach how to value our
potential even if in childhood we were put down or criticized, as
so many of us are.
I have the belief and I teach the belief that inside of each
of us we know when we are on track and we know when we are living
a wholesome life that fits with the integrity of our particular
spirit. I call this sense of well-being ï¿½The Enchanted Selfï¿½ and
I teach people how to find their "Enchanted Selves" again
and again-how to recognize and celebrate the states of well-being
that signify they are in touch with the best of themselves. I stress
the positive benefit of recalling memories about one's life
in a fashion that permits us to discover and rediscover our own
talents and resources. I also emphasize how to find in our past
the kernals of pleasure, and reservoirs of strength, that we can
come home to again and again, even if we need to reshape these facets
of ourselves to suite new circumstances Basically, this learning
involves listening to yourself, and reviewing your own past to see
what worked for you, what really gave you pleasure. What aspects
of yourself and your life can you identify as necessary to experience
a state of well-being? What do you need to feel whole? For example,
if you loved to play the piano as a child, then you may not really
enjoy watching football games as an adult. You may much more enjoy
listening to classical music. However, in order to live a full life,
you may also enjoy football games because your son loves them or
your husband loves them. Thus there is also an accommodation to
someone you care about and a resulting interest develops.
I think you can begin to see that what is going to work for each
person is so unique to that individual! It involves a review of
our history, and it involves analyzing the circumstances currently
in our lives. If we have a handicap we may not be able to become
a ballerina. Even if we have severe arthritis, we may not be able
to become a ballerina at forty. However, the love of dance since
childhood may easily be converted into wonderful yoga stretches
that help arthritis and feel 'dancy'. So often, there is
a creative turn in the road, thinking out of the box, that the Enchanted
Self person develops. You find you have become an ENCHANTED SELF
when you have the courage to put together using your mind, heart,
body and spirit new inventive ways of bringing pleasure and meaning
into your life.
The steps I teach people are rigorous but they are no harder
then all the habits we learn that keep us in bad moods and keep
us depressed. For example, if I teach someone how to review at the
end of the day everything that has gone right in their day, that
it is no harder than listing what went wrong. In fact it soon becomes
easier than listing everything that went wrong. The reason it becomes
easier is that you donï¿½t build up some of the rage and some of the
anger that one can build up when we review the problems in our lives.
Now we are encouraged rather than discouraged and even may end up
sleeping better and feeling better leading to much less energy drain.
I have found the most effective way to teach people how to access
their Enchanted Self, i.e. to find and hold onto feelings of joy,
and a sense of well-being is to share the Seven Gateways To Enchantment.
It is a quick way to catch your Enchanted Self.
The Seven Gateways
So letï¿½s explore the Gateways and then try an enchanted assignment!
The first Gateway.
It is is The Gateway of Knowing Yourself In Positive Ways. That
means getting to know your own talents and rediscovering your lost
potential. This is a fun gateway and it really builds your self-esteem.
You can pursue this Gateway, even while driving you car! For example,
you can go over your life history, reviewing your strengths and
talents. Start back in childhood-look for your strengths and talents,
even if they were disregarded by your family, and maybe even yourself.
Now, you have the maturity and wisdom to recognize these positive
parts of yourself. Even play with looking for your lost dreams-what
you thought you could do before someone or circumstances may have
dashed those dreams!
The secong Gateway
After you take some time with the First Gateway, you are ready
for the Second Gateway. This is the one where you begin to fall
in love with yourself! At the heart level you begin to feel your
specialness. This may take time, not to worry. After all our society
does not bring us up to recognize what is special and wonderful
about ourselves! Some of us get closer to this sense of positive
self-love by mentally hugging ourselves as the child that we once
were. Others practice by intentionally giving oneself a for real
quick hug, even if no one else does, or looking in the mirror and
saying to oneself, "I am special and my strengths are unique
and perfectly suited for what I want and need to do in life!
Another step in successfully passing through the Second Gateway
is acknowledging that the story of your life is a fascinating fabric
of adventures, episodes, happenings, and even mis-haps that have
come together to make a most unique person and that is YOU! Once
you can begin to see that your triumphs are to be honored and celebrated
and that your defeats have within them the wisdom and the learning
that takes you later in life to new heights you are well along on
the road to Enchantment.
The third Gateway
The third Gateway Enchantment is Learning To Meet Your Needs
and Negotiate for Yourself. The worst thing is to be so dependent
on others and the whims of others that we are not able to live out
our dreams. We need the education, the skills, the tools, and the
negotiating powers that will take us to fulfill our missions in
life. So, donï¿½t be afraid of education, donï¿½t be afraid to go back
for a degree at sixty, donï¿½t be afraid to have a mentor, to look
for advice, to find out how other people have succeeded in a particular
field. For instance, I remember treating a young woman who had so
much to offer but no path! Divorced and with two young sons she
was forced back into the parent's home and not happy about it.
But once she started back to school and became a nurse all her doors
opened for her. She had financial security, a home again for her
boys and a future! It was tough but forth the struggle.
The fourth Gateway
This is the Gateway to the experience of joy. This Gateway is
so incredibly essential. It means replenishing yourself so that
you are not running on empty. It also means not straining yourself,
not accepting more assignments than you can really handle. When
I have opened this Gateway I am able to bow out when I need to.
Maybe I take that vacation I need or want or maybe I am just strong
enough to say I will do this task later or you better find someone
else to handle it and then I get a good night's sleep. By protecting
my mind, body and spirit I not only set hontest guidelines with
others, so I don't disappoint them, but I make room for joy.
Replenishment leads to feeling good and joy fills us when we are
full of life and vitality. Of course it is necessary to find the
ways to replenish ourselves that work.
If you love to travel, look for ways to travel. If you love to
be with your friends, get together, if you love to be with your
grandchildren, then sit on the floor and play games or plant a gardenï¿½whatever
works for you.
The fifth Gateway
This is the Gateway of Community. We all know how important it
is to feel we belong, that others care about us and we care about
others. But, what you may not realize is that belonging is a major
way to offset depression. You see, the more we are truly connected
to others and feel a responsibility within a world beyond ourselves,
the less the tendency is for us to get blue and withdrawn. Obviously,
this is a very important Gateway. Finding the right communities
to connect are ongoing assignments for all of us-where we live,
who are friends are, what church or synagogue we attend, what interest
groups we identify with, etc.
The sixth Gateway
This is the gateway of mentoring and being a mentor. Very often,
we dismiss and minimize our own wisdom. We are wise, we have a tremendous
amount we can offer others and there is always others to offer wisdom
to ourselves. I love this little story that a friend told me. She
said I am learning so much from my neighbor. I said, "Who is
that?" She mentioned the persons name. I had never heard her
mention her name before even though we often chatted. My friend
said, ï¿½Well, I donï¿½t really know her, I just watch her.ï¿½ I asked
what do she meant.
She explained, "She lives a few houses away and I watch
her. I see how she greets her guests, how welcoming she is, how
she always walks a guest out and says good-bye. I see her stand
there until the guest leaves. I see how radiant her smile is. Although
she is twenty years younger than myself, she is a real mentor for
me, I am learning from her all the time." That is an example
of how easy it is to be mentored. Even the birds mentor us with
their wonderful song. Start to look for mentors-you will find them
all over. And don't forget that you are a mentor-perhaps even
when you don't know it.
The seventh Gateway
Last but not least is the Gateway of Positive Action or Good
Deeds. So essential in all the world and so essential for good mental
health. Research shows that the more we help others, the more generous
in spirit we are, whether we give time, money, a smile, or a helping
hand, our moods lift. Of course, if we offer to the point of exhaustion
then we defeat the purpose and we will be on empty! The idea is
to balance good mental health by using wise judgment calls of moderation
These are the Seven Gates; we go through them again and again
in life. We never close a door on any of them, we are always back,
we are always learning more, we are always having to reflect on
our lives one more time or learn some new behaviors, make a new
decision, recognize and acknowledge who we are and what we need
and, of course, find new ways to bring pleasure and meaning into
A PLAY DATE
What I would like you to do now is to play with the Seventh Gateway-that
of Positive Action. Take a piece of paper write down 2 positive
actions that you can do over the next year. The first one is a positive
action you can do for yourself. Make it something that will be good
for yourself, such as to restore yourself or broaden your life.
The second action is something that is good for the world and of
course will not harm yourself. You have a year to do these. Put
them in your pocketbook, look at them once in awhile. Do you realize
that just by actually doing these two actions you will: 1) bring
more pleasure and joy to yourself and 2) improve the world in some
small way. Wow- two wonderful steps toward coming home to your ENCHANTED
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein , originator of THE ENCHANTED
SELFï¿½, a method of bringing delight and meaning into everyday
living, invites you to view her new line of ENCHANTED WOMAN
products, downloadable e-books, and free gifts at