This post is written by Honey Good Guest Contributor, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. She illustrates the benefits of positive psychology and details the profound impact of the encouragement she received when she was eight years old. We are so thankful for her knowledge, as always!
Everyone Has A Story
Some years ago, I was so moved listening to Steve Hartman on CBS News. He was in the midst of one of his Everyone Has A Story segments and this lady certainly did. He had gone somewhere in Wisconsin, randomly found a lady and talked to her.
At first, she tried to beg off and actually told him that he was violating her privacy, but after they talked for an hour, she shared a story that she had never told anyone.
About ten years ago, after her mother had just died and her husband had suddenly walked out on her, she was feeling very low. In fact, she kept thinking about a bottle of pills in her bathroom that she wanted to swallow–all at once. She felt so terrible that she walked toward the bathroom to do just that, but suddenly the phone rang.
A Few Essential Phone Calls
It was an uncle of hers, coincidentally checking in to see how she was doing. She lied, talked a while and then got off the phone to continue to walk toward the bathroom.
The phone rang again. This time it was another relative, calling out of the blue, to see how she was doing. Again, she lied and when she could finally get off the phone, she walked down the hall toward the bathroom. Unbelievably, the phone rang a third time. Now it was a friend from high school that hadn’t called in years, just checking in.
Well, this time, when she hung up, she didn’t go back toward the bathroom. She told Steve, that never, never did she get three calls that close in a row–the phone sometimes didn’t ring for days. She realized that these calls were somehow meant to keep her alive. In fact, she felt that the last caller had saved her life. She never attempted to take her life again.
Small Gestures Can A Profound Impact
Steve then went and found the woman who made the third phone call. He asked her if she was aware that she saved her friend’s life. She was totally unaware, and just barely remembered calling to say hello.
This real-life story told for the first time is incredible. Not only does it suggest the hand of the great Divine, but also teaches us that we must act. Even the great Divine needs our assistance! We must be in each other’s best interests.
Taking the time to check-in, say hello and see how each other are doing is incredibly important. We never know how much power the simplest gesture may make on someone else.
When I Was Eight
Here’s my story–at least the one that comes to me right now. I remember I was in a play when I was eight years old. Actually, I had a walk-on part, as a child in A Streetcar Named Desire at the local college.
The director, Mr. Dickenson–I still remember his name after all of these years–sent me some flowers and a note thanking me for being in the show and doing a great job.
Thank You, Mr. Dickenson
How hard was it for an eight-year-old to acts as an eight-year-old in a play and walk across the stage holding a pretty lady’s hand? Nevertheless, he thought my acting was worth noting.
Do you know how good I felt? How many times I read that note and memorized it? How special he made me feel?
No wonder I still remember his name; thank you, Mr. Dickenson!
The Power of Positive Psychology
Wow, he encouraged me to continue acting, even though in retrospect, how could he have seen more than what any eight-year-old girl might have done, dressed up and excited to be part of a show?
How many other Mr. Dickensons in my life have I forgotten who made me feel talented and brave? I thank all of them for widening my world so much that there are still so many adventures ahead of me.
Sometimes friends and colleagues call me ‘The Enchanted Self.’ That’s because as a psychologist in private practice for over 35 years, I’ve developed a form of positive psychology called The Enchanted Self. I’m not enchanted, but I do have many ways and ideas to help all of us feel better through all stages of life. These methods help us recognize our potential, regardless of our age, to grab on to our talents and find again and again the emotional energies needed to be creative, resourceful, resilient and to live joyfully.