The Rebbe Nachman of Breslow often said, "Always remember-Joy is not merely
incidental to your spiritual quest. It is vital."
As the years have gone by and I've 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 "The
Enchanted Self" 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
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 havethe 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 don't 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.
So let's explore the Gateways and then try an enchanted assignment!
The first Gateway 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
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
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 to 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, don't be afraid of education, don't be afraid to go back
for a degree at sixty, don't 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 is 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 garden…whatever works for you.
The Fifth Gateway 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 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,
"Well, I don't really know her, I just watch her." 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.
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 judgement calls of
moderation and balance.
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 our lives.
A PLAYDATE WITH ENCHANTMENT
What I would like you to do now is to play with the Seventh Gateway-that of
Positive Action. Take a peice 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 SELF!
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein , originator of THE ENCHANTED SELF®, 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
http://www.enchantedself.com. Chat with others in Dr. Holstein’s e-group,
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/enchantedself/. Order her book, THE
ENCHANTED SELF: A Positive Therapy, or the CD-rom or tape version and her book
RECIPES FOR ENCHANTMENT: The Secret Ingredient is YOU!, or the ED-rom version,