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Reel Fulfillment: What Can You Learn From Movies?

Jun 12, 2008
This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's Fountain of Youth Summit, which can be found at http://fountainofyouthworldsummit.com. In this excerpt, Dr. Maria Grace shares on using movies to teach concepts about self-development.

The Fountain of Youth World Summit with Dr. Maria Grace, psychologist, psychotherapist and author of Reel Fulfillment.

Kevin: So why don't you tell us a little bit about your background, about your story, how you came into self-fulfillment and then we'll move right into getting into what works.

Dr. Grace: Well, I'm a psychologist and a psychotherapist. I have been practicing psychotherapy for over 17 years and being a psychologist was the dream of my life. It was almost a desire that I had ever since I was 12 years old. To study psychology and help people improve their life and understand themselves and so the whole process of self-fulfillment and my whole expertise in self-fulfillment began with my own life.

I've always gone after my dreams and I never stopped until I made them true and as a therapist and psychologist I worked with people from all walks of life in many countries actually. Not just the States, in Europe and Canada and Latin America and I found in the years of practicing psychotherapy that deep down inside we all want the same thing. We want to be happy, we want to fulfill our dreams, and we want to know how to make it through hardships in coming to the other end without losing everything. Holding on to what's good and keeping it and building on it and this is the same for everyone regardless of ethnic or racial or cultural background.

Kevin: It's interesting that you boiled it down to just about that because when I hear it, it seems like the information that we're looking for. So tell me a little bit. You based your information, you've given a lot of information, you've also included movies as a part of a tool which I think is just really interesting and we'll talk more about movies later, but just give us a little brief introduction of how that incorporates into the whole thing.

Dr. Grace: Well, sure, I have always tried in my practice to find ways to help my clients know faster through their issues and especially their defenses and early on I used myths and stories. I'm originally Greek and Greek mythology has a wealth of stories about the various stages of life and in fact myths have always been used in cultures to help people understand themselves better and navigate the changes they experience as they move from one stage of development to another. You know, from adolescence to adulthood to married life to parenthood to mature age to old age and then to death. If you look into mythology it's all about the stages of life. So this is what I've started using in my practice, but eventually I realized that my clients felt easier and better talking about their favorite movies.

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Grace: And I found that many of them had heroes and characters that they identified with or they did not identify with and they remade their problems to me through a certain character. Like Neo in The Matrix or Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams or whatever movie they would see, you know?

Kevin: Sure.

Dr. Grace: And so all of a sudden I realized that the modern myths in this culture are the movies and that I have a treasure in my hands that I could use to help my clients. So I started teaching seminars and in which I used films to make, to teach concepts about self-development and personal development and personal growth and self- awareness and that turned into a whole method which I eventually received an award for and wrote a book which is Reel Fulfillment which we should tell people that it's spelled r-e-e-l fulfillment and this is what the book is about. It's about how to use lessons from popular movies to improve many aspects of your life in 12 steps.

Kevin: Wow. That's just really cool. We'll just start with like one or two tips from that and then I want to get more into the transition, but I think it's just such a neat concept not to leave on the table. How can someone use a movie or even a myth? How can someone watch The Matrix and say, "Hey, you know, this is a way that I want to start living my life"?

Dr. Grace: Well, The Matrix, it's interesting you should mention The Matrix because my book starts with The Matrix and my client Tomas, that's not his real name, who was someone who identified with Neo in The Matrix. He was a computer whiz, young, his early 30s, and very, very dissatisfied with his life and he was an avid movie go-er and movie lover and he made very little progress in therapy until I suggested that he watch The Matrix. Now I don't know why I had that epiphany but I did.

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Grace: And so he came back and he said, "Maria, there is no spoon". He sat down in my office and his first, the first thing he said was, "Maria, there is no spoon" and I said, "What is that?" He said, "There's no spoon. There's no spoon. I got it. I got it, Maria, there's no spoon." Now he was referring to the theme, if you have seen The Matrix, where Neo is about to receive, he has received the calling that he's the one to change the world and goes through the oracle and outside the oracle's kitchen there is young boy who looks like a guru with a shaved head and bends the spoon using mind control and Neo asks him, "How do you do this?" He looks puzzled, and the boy turns and says, "It's simple. There is no spoon."

Now something about that theme really hit home for my client and what he saw was that in fact if he could focus, if he could use his mind to focus on his goals and his desires that would eliminate the obstacles that he was projecting out there in the world. So the spoon was representing an inner obstacle that was projected out there. For example, I'm ugly, I'm fat, I will measure up to nothing, no one likes me, I'm not a good lover, I'm not a good friend, I'm not this, I'm not good at this or that. All these are statements that reflect negative thoughts that we have about ourselves that we project out there in the world and of course those negative thoughts go out there and find situations to attach themselves to.

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Grace: You see? So that theme in The Matrix somehow clicked for him and from that point on he had that breakthrough. Now, the movie became a stimulus for him, became an incident, became an experience for him that motivated him to see deeper into himself, gain this insight about how his inner thoughts were projected out there and created one obstacle upon another, and motivated him to slowly and surely take steps to change his life and today he has purchased his home, he's happier, much happier with his job because he changed employment, he is in a relationship and he mails to me from, he mailed me from time to time letting me know that he's fine and he's doing well. All that began with that theme in The Matrix.

This is to say that movies are not the answer to our problems, but they have lessons that, through their images that are worth millions of words, can motivate us or can somehow spark a light in us, and then we can make, we can take the steps to make the necessary changes in our life.

Kevin: So we're just finishing up with 12 awesome presenters and they're all giving different information. There's a bunch of information and you know what are some of the best ways to make sure that information like this sticks, even helps in fitness, even for your client with the spoon, you know, what's the best way to make something stick so that you can continue to do that for an extended period of time?

Dr. Grace: So here's my approach to that. I believe that we all have our weak spots and I believe that we are all guilty of excess occasionally or not so occasionally and I believe that we could all use information to improve the way we're treating our body and our self. So when we learn all these good stuff about food and good food and the chemicals in food and the interaction various foods in our bodies, how to use food, how to eat food, how to walk, how to exercise, how to take care of ourselves, I think that we all need to see that these are tools, okay?

All this information represents tools that we can, that are there for us to use for our own good. So the first thing that I would advise people is to choose the tools that they can use. The key word there is use.

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Grace: Okay? Now when it comes down to food, I think that eating has to do a lot with being fat, being nourished, and being fat is fine. I'm a firm believer that we should eat food that we must prepare.

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Grace: Okay? Preparations are, there is 3 key elements into the whole ritual of eating: Preparation, presentation, and concentration. Okay? So regardless of the food that we choose to eat, whether we want to eat raw food, whether we want to eat organic, whether we want to eat vegan, whether we want to eat meat. I don't care. I really, personally do not care. I don't have judgment on people who like meat the same way I don't have judgment on people who eat only raw food.

However, I preach that either group of eaters should prepare their food, should present their food in a way that pleases the senses, such as the eyes, the nose, you know, the nose, the touch, and the taste, and sometimes even , we need to hear food, you know, when it boils, when it cooks, when it bakes, and then to concentrate on eating the food. Eating food is a ritual and a ritual has steps, okay? If we all prepared our food, if we prepared our food, let's say 3 times a week, not every day. I'm not solely, you know, believing that we have time to cook 3 times a day, every day a week, but let's cook 3 times or let's even cook once, let's cook once the meals of the week. Let's budget 3 hours, alright, on a Sunday and cook the food for the whole week. Do you know how therapeutic and healing that is? That will take away all the rush and the hurriedness and the, okay, let's gobble food down, because we learn to wait, we learn to pick the food, we learn to chop it, we learn to cut it, we learn to use our kitchen.

Sometimes we create community as we cook. We may cook with a partner, we may cook with a neighbor, we may cook with our children, we may cook with our parents, and so it stops being about eating for the sake of eating and it stops being about eating well or right or wrong. It's about incorporating food as part of life and adding pleasure to the way we interact with food.
About the Author
To read the rest of this transcript as well as access The Fountain of Youth World Summit experts just like Dr. Maria Grace please click here! Kevin Gianni is an internationally recognized health advocate, author & film consultant. He has helped thousands of people take control of their own health naturally. For more information visit raw food diets and holistic nutrition.
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