Dr. Ben Michaelis: 'Your Next Big Thing' for the New Year (Q&A)

Today, Hartford Books Examiner rings in the New Year with Dr. Ben Michaelis.

A clinical psychologist who helps patients achieve mental health and well-being through creativity, Dr. Michaelis is a graduate of Columbia and New York Universities. He has been in private practice in Manhattan since 2004. Dr. Michaelis’s writing has been published in both academic and popular press; he is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and PsychologyToday.com. He has been a guest expert on radio and nationally syndicated television. Dr. Michaelis makes his home in Brooklyn, New York.

Dr. Michaelis’s most recent writing project, Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy (Adams Media, $24.95), was published last month. Martha B. Edwards, PhD, Director of the Ackerman Institute for Family’s Center for the Developing Child and Family, praised, “Whether one is stuck or seeking to enhance an already satisfying life, Dr. Michaelis’ thought-provoking and clarifying exercises, concrete strategies, and real-life examples help the reader reflect, prioritize, and take action.” Further, Hala Khouri, MA, E-RYT, Somatic Counselor, Yoga Teacher, and co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World, noted, “Dr. Michaelis invites us to befriend our demons so as to liberate our true essence and live a life of joy and meaning.”


From the publisher:


“Ten Steps to Moving Ahead with Purpose!
Have you ever woken up in the morning feeling unsure of where your day–or your life–is going? You wonder what else might be out there. You know you deserve more fulfillment from your life. You think to yourself: What’s next?
We’ve all felt that way at one point or another, but have you ever considered it to be your opportunity to create a life that will leave you more fulfilled? It’s an exhilarating prospect to attain that life you desire. But you can’t get there alone. Dr. Ben Michaelis’s life-changing wisdom will give you the tools and confidence you need to take that chance–and live your life with purpose.
Throughout this guide, he provides visionary yet practical strategies, quizzes, and exercises to teach you about your true self. He’ll help you pinpoint exactly what you need to realize your purpose and progress toward your goals. Whether you’re in need of business or personal guidance, this ten-step plan helps you look forward without fear–so you can achieve joy, passion, and the enriched life you never thought possible.”


Now, Dr. Michaelis invites readers to make a commitment to themselves in the New Year…

1) What inspired you to write YOUR NEXT BIG THING? How do you find that your book differs from others?

As a clinical psychologist, I often see people who are feeling “stuck” in their own lives — putting Band Aids on their jobs or relationships that just are not working. I wrote YOUR NEXT BIG THING to help inspire people to imagine a new life and to give them concrete and manageable steps to make their new life a reality.

YOUR NEXT BIG THING is different from other books in two key ways:

1. It is NO-NONSENSE. I really dislike books that are filled with a bunch of technical terms that only like five people in the world can understand. I wrote YOUR NEXT BIG THING so that it reads the way I think. It is straightforward and gives concrete examples, exercises, and quizzes so that anyone who is feeling stuck can use it as a tool for getting unstuck.

2. It is INTERACTIVE. There are tons of brief, quick exercises that can help jump start people into getting moving in their new lives. The idea is to get people to take action through the interaction that they have with the book.

2) Please briefly introduce your three essential elements for moving forward as well as the philosophy behind your ten-step plan…

Absolutely. The three essential elements that form the core of my philosophy, practice, and book are PLAY, PURPOSE, and WORK.

Imaginative PLAY allows you dream up possibilities, connecting with your higher PURPOSE gives you meaning, and WORK gets you where you want to go. The “Ten Small Steps” in YOUR NEXT BIG THING are tangible and sensible ways to connect to all three of these essential elements.

3) New Years is the perfect time to reevaluate ourselves and take purposeful action. How can readers use your book as a guide – and what do you believe is the key to making resolutions that can be maintained?

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.

I believe in making commitments. Committing to yourself and your loved ones to do more, be better, live bolder is a much stronger and more useful way of considering change.

The first three steps of YOUR NEXT BIG THING (Know Yourself, Imagine Yourself, and Discover your Purpose) are aimed at helping people to craft a personal Statement of Purpose, which is a living, breathing document designed to help get people to point their compasses in the right direction for them. But it all starts with a commitment.

4) The book incorporates interactive elements (such as activities and quizzes). Tell us about this aspect of YOUR NEXT BIG THING and how you feel that it will benefit readers…

I included the quizzes and activities in order to engage the reader in the book and in their own processes. Once you are in the habit of taking action — any action, it’s easier to do more. I hope that readers find that the book rekindles the natural fire they have within them.

5) How does your unique background (psychology degree coupled with an interest in film/theatre) influence your work? 

My background in the arts has given me deep respect for the concept of play as essential to personal well being. And when it’s working well, I think of psychotherapy as a form of play — not because I don’t take it seriously. Quite the opposite. My rigorous training at Bellevue Hospital has allowed me to appreciate the risks of poor mental health. But I think about therapy as play because when you create a safe, healthy space for people to express their innermost thoughts, feelings, wishes and fears, they are able to explore them in space that is free of judgment and consequence. The therapeutic space allows them to make better and healthier choices in their lives.

The article was originally published on Examiner

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