How the Reel Happiness Approach Works
Origins & Underpinnings
Hi there, I’m Lisa Elin, and I’m so glad you’re here! Thank you for your curiosity about Reel Happiness, and for your willingness to invest yourself in strengthening your life, whether it’s through cinema therapy or some other form.
Since 1993 I’ve helped people to name what’s in the way, identify the skills that neutralize it, and equip themselves to move forward with more capacity and confidence. When people learn about my history (specifically a severe, long-term childhood trauma), most of them ask me how I got past it. For some, the question’s rhetorical, and that’s cool. (“Holy cow, how did you get over that?” ~ as one might marvel at the winner of a hot-dog-eating contest.) That’s fine, truly, and I have a standard, lighthearted response to that type of inquiry.
But others would ask, quietly and with eye contact, precisely how I did it. The mechanism itself. The process. I didn’t know their story, but I knew why they were asking. It’s one thing to know that someone overcame the obstacle; but it’s something else to know how they were able to set things on a different trajectory.
Once having received the genuine inquiry several times, I realized that I felt a certain… call to have an actual answer at the ready. But even when sharing the mechanics of what turned out to be a very deliberate personal methodology, the answer didn’t necessarily equate to something they could apply out on their own.
They could know the path, but they couldn’t always walk it.
Reel Happiness is the response to this dilemma. In using film as the container for conversation, we bridge the gap.
My approach is not one that is tied to a specific activity (such as trauma recovery or parenting or building a business), but is actually more of a stance. It’s a way of engaging your activity, of evaluating what’s needed (in order to achieve success), what’s missing (and thus hindering success), and where mind and spirit may actually be at odds (resulting in stop-and-go progress and internal conflict – argh!).
My Reel Happiness approach is a way of knowing precisely how you need to show up in order to achieve the best possible outcome from your undertaking. It’s learning a proven stance of being alert, equipped, prepared, and congruent.
My approach works consistently, without becoming overwhelming, because it focuses on three key elements:
A clear path.
Perhaps you have a major stumbling block to clear, or perhaps you just want to have some fun and pick up some good movie recs. Either way, you’ll start with a solid foundation of hand-picked themes and suggested films that explore them; from there I’ll help you decide your direction, and how much support (if any) you want along the way.
My own Repertoire is available to you as well for use as a tool; there are approximately 300 annotated (and usually fully reviewed) films, all indexed by themes, genres, and ratings to help you get the most value from your movie watching (and all 3000+ are listed at least by rating and genre).
Steady forward progression at one’s own pace.
You can choose to take baby steps, or you can choose to take long strides, whichever serves you best at the time. It’s entirely up to you. Additionally, there is a very specific conversation between one step and the next, which ensures that once you complete a step, you won’t have to go back and repeat it. You can always revisit it for further study or recreation, but you’ll progress in a way that results in lasting change. It will feel gentle at the time, but you’ll look back and marvel at just how far you’ve come.
And of course, movies.
Using cinema to walk this path is not only tremendously enjoyable, but also extremely effective. (Life is good.)
With cinema, we access the collective wisdom not only of all the individuals who came together to create the film, but of the very characters themselves. Cinema also speaks directly to our psyche in a special, largely unconscious manner which, when received with intention, can unlock impressions and ideas in ways that conversation (whether spoken or read) can’t reach. It just can’t.
Like the sense of smell, which connects directly to the brain in ways other senses do not, cinema connects directly to the psyche and allows us to ponder, unpack, and reframe the assumptions driving our behavior.
Additionally, we can experience a single film many times over the years, and each time it offers something new. It’s different, because we’re different. We change and grow between viewings, and learn afresh from our characters as we observe our own evolution.
Finally, all materials can be used for recreation, guided self-study, or in support of your work with a professional coach or counselor.