Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is nationally known as a positive psychologist and happiness coach and host of Happiness for Women Only and Enchanted Self, both aired on several Internet stations, including Lady Bug Live.
Authors & Technology, on Blog Talk Radio, is designed to educate authors to be more business savvy in their use of technology to bring their books to the world. She is also the originator of The Enchanted Self, a positive psychology method for increasing happiness. Here she is interviewed by Francine Silverman.
Q. Could you expand on The Enchanted Self?
A. The Enchanted Self is the place within a woman where she feels most whole, most content, happy, where she is thriving, where she has a sense of well-being. No one word works for all. You might call it the integration of mind, body and spirit, also. It is also a method as well as a place. That is, if you want to get to your Enchanted Self then take the time to recognize, using your memory and the history of your life, you talents, interests and potential.
Once you find what makes you happy then use the Seven Gateways to Happiness to get back there again and again, recognizing that each time you won’t get to exactly the same place, as life never exactly repeats itself! And lastly, you may need to reinvent what made you happy to fit your current situation. For example, you loved to do ballet, that may have to be reinvented to loving to do arm movements, watching a ballet, ballroom dancing, or maybe helping young kids get involved in dance.
Q. Your research on women initially focused on the negative messages that these women received in childhood, but you soon discovered that there was a magical capacity within these women to reinvent themselves in adulthood. When you helped them retrieve their memories of positive moments in their pasts, they flowered. You also helped them access their Enchanted Selves. Could you describe this positive psychology method and possibly give an example of how it worked on one or two clients?
A. You are asking what I took almost 200 pages to answer in The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy. That said, here are some comments around the questions you ask.
My research on women all already had an Enchanted Self. I didn’t know that when I started, as I was busy focusing on learning more about the negative messages that women faced as children growing up. I threw in the “when are you happy question” just as a relief question.
What I found out was that I could get every woman to tell me about when she was happy. It was just that many didn’t acknowledge that part of themselves as being important and honor it enough. In other words, they easily made their happy time a second-class citizen. What I did in my questioning was focus them on helping them recognize what made them feel most whole and happy and to see it as vital to their identity and health.
I kept at my questioning, reframing when necessary, until the woman came home to some aspect of her life that she loved. One woman loved to garden, another to read to her grandchildren, another to ski. And then once we got there I questioned them backwards toward their childhoods to see where the threads to that pleasure had begun. Sometimes we got to the beginning of what they so loved, sometimes we couldn’t find it. For example, a woman who loved to give her kids a lot of attention and time as teenagers (often not an easy age to spend time with our kids) traveled back in time with me until we got to her grandparents’ home. Her own home was cold as her mom was distant and out a lot, but she loved to go to her grandparents’ home after school, put on the TV and dance with a doorknob to rock and roll. So there it was, the beginnings of happy times that she then reinvented in the way she interpreted motherhood.
What I took from these women was an understanding that if already healthy women in our society don’t acknowledge or give enough attention to what makes them happy, just imagine how little attention upset women give to happiness, pleasure and rejuvenation! And now I had a mission to fulfill, a torch to carry, that I am still waving 20 years later. We need to recognize our talents, our passions, our strengths, our potential, our resources and what we need to fill our gas tanks. No, we can’t go on empty. No one can.
And now for a client. She was unhappy and on empty with a new baby. She missed working, the kid was sapping all her energy and time. I asked her to go back in time to a time when she felt great. The example she came up with was swimming in the ocean when the waves suddenly got big and she felt her own strength surface as she didn’t panic and made it to shore. This memory led to us discussing when she needed to do to rise above the waves in her life at this moment. She made some decisions to meet up with other mothers in activities like Jamboree for babies and moms. It was a start that led to friendships, shared life situations, phone calls, and her sense of self returning.
Q. What are the Seven Gateways of Happiness that you have developed?
A. Your top goals are to combine mental wellness with a true understanding of how to retrieve and recreate positive states of mind again and again.
Q. Does this mean that your work is not done? If not, what is still to learn?
A. I am always learning but I think I see my purpose and mission as to help women recognize their hidden potential and to fight for their rights to utilize their strengths, coping skills, talents, passions and potential. Some of that fight is external, such as fair labor laws, laws against abuse, etc. and some is internal where we have to fight ourselves, or I should say convince ourselves to keep going to get the education we need to do what we dream of doing, discourage the negative messages that stir up within ourselves, etc. Now, as an author and playwright, I see a lot of my passionate efforts being mobilized via fiction and drama. Latest are my books for girls, The Truth, and Secrets, soon to be released by Sky Pony Press, as The Truth, Diary of a Gusty Tween, and not sure on the new title for Secrets, and Around Every Corner, now on Amazon Kindle, romantic fiction for women, with a lot of twists. I’ve started play versions of both The Truth, called The Locket in play form, and Around Every Corner. Each has had one initial performance.