Many of my readers write to me about the tensions of everyday life. Not only do people wonder how to relax, but people often ask, “How do I learn to better cope with what faces me? Can THE ENCHANTED SELF help with the overwhelming frenzy of everyday life? Can it help when I am really down or something really goes wrong?” As a positive psychology can it help me overcome adversity? I certainly want to live a life worth living and feel happy, with a sense of mental and physical well-being. Can the techniques taught in THE ENCHANTED SELF help? Absolutely!

In my newsletter, I often talk about the power of our positive memories. I emphasize this power because so often people focus on their negative and unpleasant memories. However, THE ENCHANTED SELF is much more than the retrieval of positive memories. It is the recognition of what works to make us thrive as human beings, and the courage to live fully. One of the marvelous ways we can use our enchanted memory banks is to look backwards in time to recognize our coping skills. For example, perhaps you came from a dysfunctional family, where one or both parents were alcoholics. You were the oldest child and you developed a multitude of skills, including organizational skills, running a household, and abilities to negotiate, calm and quiet others. These skills, although they had their origin in dysfunction, are precious gifts as an adult. Perhaps you are already using them in a career or in your personal life.

At times using a coping skill from childhood may mean giving yourself permission to do something as an adult that felt good as a child. For example, Marsha used to love to blow bubbles as a child. Now as a busy business woman, when she feels stressed out she will often take out a bottle of bubbles and let herself go back in time to that fun feeling of blowing bubbles, watching those magical spheres of light fill her office, creating miniature rainbows of delight.

Setting aside some time for myself, I recently experienced a way to cope with the hustle and bustle of my life. It is an activity which Peter Eno, our Tai Chi instructor calls a meditative walk. A group of people walk in a circle very slowly, taking their time and letting themselves experience open space in their thinking at the same time keeping pace in unison with each other. In a sense, one becomes a member of a very slow circular parade. This walk offers me a sense of connection with others and at the same time it gives me a chance for my mind to settle down in a peacefulness and comfort.

Random thoughts pop in and out as I walk around the room, but I also experience pleasurable feelings of comfort, relaxation and a warm sensation that goes way back to my grandmother’s apartment in Brookline. Fresh air is coming in through the window as I wake contentedly to the bustle of sparrows on the windowsill. The birds chirp in a space that feels timeless yet totally safe. As I walk, I go back and forth in time from Grandma’s spare bedroom to Peter’s studio. At times I become aware of the sensation of being one with the weather, the noise of a lawn mower, the wail of a train’s horn. After the meditative walk I feel refreshed. I feel ready to cope with everyday life. The meditative walk not only helped me get in touch with long ago Enchanted Moments at my grandmother’s house, but it has replenished me so that I have coping skills to handle my life now.

If we can't cope, how can we find happiness? If we don't learn to recognize what makes us happy, how can we have the energy to cope?

I have used walking as a coping skill since childhood. Ever since walking back and forth to school twice a day, I have been able to use walking to calm me down–giving me time to think and process what was on my mind. So actually a meditative walk gives me a time for enchanted memories, using a coping skill that began as a childhood routine.

Exercise:

Make a list of five coping skills you have. Examples are: determination, a sense of humor, running, cooking up a storm, reading romantic novels. Now look at your list and pick one or two of your coping skills. Play with them in your mind for the next week in two ways:

1. At least once a day, congratulate yourself on your wonderful survivor capacities.

2. Play with new ways you could use these skills to bring you pleasure. Perhaps it is time to take a gourmet-cooking course, time to write a romantic novel, or maybe time to send jokes via e-mail on the computer. Don t get discouraged. Just have fun! Hang in there. Remember you have an ENCHANTED SELF.
You are capable of achieving positive states again and again, and you have coping capacities to find personal enchantment, again and again.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Holstein is the originator of THE ENCHANTED SELF(R) and a positive psychologist in private practice since 1981. She is the author of The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!, Delight, and now The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything).
Dr. Holstein speaks on radio, and appears on television in NY and NJ. Her website is www.enchantedself.com. She gives lectures, seminars, teleclasses and her quotes appear often in national magazines. She has a weekly radio show on www.internetvoicesradio.com, Kids, Tweens and Teens, A Positive Psychologist Looks at All Three. She is the official guide for positive psychology on www.selfgrowth.com

Additional Resources covering Positive Psychology can be found at:

Website Directory for Positive Psychology
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Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, the Official Guide To Positive Psychology