The Enchanted Outlook

Enchantment in Light and Darkness


I have been studying the concept of magic and its connection to the concept of happiness for about four years now.  It has been an incredible journey so far and has lead me down all sorts of paths I never thought I would travel. I would like to revisit one aspect of the subject today and clarify an opinion that has… not so much changed, but has lately been easier to put into words.

I have defined enchantment in relation to how the term is used in fantasy literature. In fantasy, an enchantment is a type of magic that alters the perception of the individual, rather than altering the world around them. When a person is enchanted, they see things differently. In this way, The Enchanted Outlook is a term I made up for the concept of learning how to alter our perspectives to see things in a more imaginative and positive way. In other words, it’s about cognitive re-framing.

However, because  I have spent my career working in settings where I see social injustice on a daily basis, one concept that I have personally grappled with is where cognitive re-framing fits in with inequality and injustice. Certainly, to suggest that any person suffering from an external cause would have their problems disappear by simply shifting their perspective is irresponsible and blames the wrong source. Trust me: I’ve been given this advice myself during times of grief and loss and it wasn’t comforting. Changing how we view the world does not make the world change, and it does not make the monsters go away.

I turn, instead, to one of my favorite passages, from G. K. Chesterson about the power of fairy tales for children:

Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.

You may have seen this condensed as the quote, “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”

I don’t present the concept of an Enchanted Outlook because I don’t know the world can be ugly or because I want to blame those who suffer at its expense. Rather, I present this concept because I DO know that it can be an ugly place. I hope that the Enchanted Outlook serves as inspiration to defeat whatever monsters may be out there through offering hope.

And so, with this blog, I offer a shift in perspective that I hope will provide courage to face the world with a renewed spirit, regardless of your circumstances or your beliefs. For, whether you are trying to make small changes in your life, or you are going through a terrible darkness that feels completely out of your control, we all need a spark of hope and happiness in order to fight our own dragons.


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Money Won’t Create Success

Money Won't Create Success

A controversial quote here, but a new favorite of mine. I love Mandela’s perspective on the prospect of making money as a freedom denied to many due to lack of societal upward economic mobility. We talk about a lot of freedoms in this world, but having the freedom to earn a living or achieve success through working hard is one that, in my opinion, we could champion a lot more. I am thinking of my fellow humans who have been denied that freedom today.

Seven Reasons I Only Buy One Product a Week (Little Life Charms Series)


It’s time for more Little Life Charms! After taking a bit of a hiatus, I recently went back to my method of purchasing only one item a week. This includes everything from soap to car parts to clothing and makeup, but not food or medication (I see those two as absolute needs and don’t find value in restricting them, personally.) It also does not include gifts. While I am glad that I took time to try other means of budgeting and loosening the reins a bit, re-starting this method really reminded me how much I love- and truly enjoy, only purchasing one item a week.

  1. It saves me money.  I had no idea how many small, thoughtless items I purchased on a regular basis before changing to this method. If you haven’t ever counted or made a list of your day-to-day purchases, I’d encourage you to do so at least once. It’s enlightening! I generally find that, barring some kind of last-minute unexpected emergency, purchasing one item a week still gives me all my needs and then some. In purchasing only one item a week, I can put additional income from items I would have purchased, but didn’t need, into savings. It also allows me to invest more in experiences, which research has shown leads to greater happiness.
  2. I enjoy what I purchase to the same extent. Happiness research shows that part of the reason we enjoy making purchases is because we get a burst of dopamine when we make a purchase. I don’t like buying a bunch of things at once because I have realized that I have the same “zing” in my brain whether I purchase one thing or one hundred. Better to space them out, I feel. I also feel more gratitude towards being able to purchase some of my needs, and have realized that some things I had considered “needs” are actually “wants.”
  3. It keeps my space tidier. Not only do I bring less items into my life, but I am more likely to use up things that I already have. I recently was running low on foundation. I decided to use up one I wasn’t too keen on, but that worked just fine, before purchasing the new one.
  4. It helps me to be more eco-friendly. Purchasing one item a week allows me to really prioritize what I need and not buy things in excess. If I only want a new tshirt but I need a new shampoo, I will only purchase the shampoo that week and save the tshirt for later. And you know what- I find that I really look forward to using the shampoo in a way that I maybe wouldn’t have before. It also helps me to think about how long the product I am purchasing will really last, and I find that I lean more towards reusable products and towards quality products that will last a long time.
  5. It is easier to make better, more ethical purchases. Because I purchase less, I tend to think through every purchase more. I will think about where the pants I purchased were made, or if it might be better to try to find them secondhand. Slowing down my purchases allows me to really think about quality and to use that mental energy I might have been focusing on multiple items I wanted to buy and hone it towards that one item.
  6. It saves me time. Despite spending a little more time considering each item up-front, I still don’t spend as much time shopping as I used to. I turn that part of my brain off after deciding what my purchase will be for the week and I focus on other things. And again, an emphasis on re-usable, more durable, or bulk products means that I have less decision fatigue.
  7. It allows me to be creative. I was recently going to purchase some re-usable cleaning cloths, but then I realized that I could make some instead out of some used fabric. I’ve also made my own cleaning products and found new uses for old pieces of furniture. In short, I find a lot more joy and gratitude in what I already have, rather than focusing on what I don’t have.

What about you? Do you have little spending “charms” or rules that help you to feel happier or to better meet your goals? Or, do you find those types of things restrictive? Are you a hard-liner when it comes to the rules, or do you allow yourself a little wiggle room?

experience of being alive Campbell

Back to School!


It’s official: I’m going back to school next year to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Now, whenever I tell people this, they tend to assume that I’ll be working in child protective services. So, if you’re unfamiliar with  the degree, I’ll give you some information about social work and explain how it relates to what I do here on this blog as well.

Social work can be defined as work done by trained individuals with the goal of aiding and empowering those in need. Lots of different occupations can be considered social work; for instance:

  • positions in nonprofit management
  • individuals in hospitals who develop plans of care
  • government workers who see if individuals qualify for assistance
  • counselors
  • people who work in politics and advocate for individuals’ rights

Social work also encompasses a wide variety of fields, including education, healthcare, mental health, economics, politics, urban development, and more. So, you can imagine it’s a broad degree that is applicable to a lot of areas.

What exactly will I be doing, and how does it relate to The Enchanted Outlook? Well, I’m pursuing a clinical track, and my goal is to become a licensed counselor. There are several different degrees which lead to clinical licensure, including social work, counseling, and psychology; one reason that I chose the social work track, besides the broadness of the field, was because it takes a slightly different perspective. Instead of a primary focus of adapting an individual to their environment, as some other counseling degrees would, a social worker also takes into account sociological factors and aims to help adapt environment to the individual.

For instance, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) counseling a client who had been raped might connect their client with legal resources. An LCSW counseling a client who was disabled and out of work might take some steps to assist that client in finding appropriate employment. LCSWs are frequently found in public and nonprofit settings, but counsel in the private sector as well. While there are a lot of overlaps between this and other forms of counseling, I really liked the sociological perspective that social work provides, especially with where my country is at the present, and the opportunity to advocate for individuals and groups that it gives.

My intent is to have a very balanced approach to my counseling, though, which brings me back to this blog. In The Enchanted Outlook, I talk a lot about cognitive reframing, which is about changing the way we perceive things and viewing them in a more helpful way. This is a technique which I intend to bring into my counseling. I hope that all of my future clients will be able to walk away from their sessions seeing life in a bit more “magical” way. I also intend to share counseling tips and tricks regarding cognitive reframing here, so I hope that having this advanced degree will enrich my blogging and be helpful to you all as well.

I will have two years of school, and then two to three years of post-graduate field work, before obtaining licensure, so this will be a long and arduous journey, but I’m so excited to get started this fall! I am apologizing in advance for inconsistent blogging that is sure to come once I’m in the thick of it, but hopefully the quality of my information obtained through my education will compensate for lack of quantity of posts. That’s it; I hope this wasn’t too boring and that it clarified some things for you. Thanks for stopping by!


Aging the Wabi Sabi Way


Three things happened to me this past week that were a wake-up call:

  • I overheard a volunteer at my work refer to me as a “lady.”
  • A younger coworker commented that I “looked tired.”
  • I wasn’t carded when I ordered a wheat beer at a restaurant.

All of those things were true. I’m not a girl; I’m a lady. I was tired. I’m not twenty-one; I’m thirty.

So why did I feel bad? Maybe because I’m not at the point in my professional life where I thought I’d be at this age? Maybe because life hasn’t exactly played out how I’d anticipated it would? Maybe because society pays attention to (or objectifies) younger women while ignoring older women? Or maybe because I have a husband who still gets carded when buying video games?

Rather than sit in the muck for too long about this, though, I turned my attention to Wabi Sabi. If you are unfamiliar with Wabi Sabi, it’s a Japanese philosophy that states three principles:

  • Nothing is perfect.
  • Nothing is permanent.
  • Nothing is complete.

In short, it’s a reverence for the transience and imperfection of life. Wabi Sabi philosophy believes life is all the more beautiful for its continuously changing state. The bumps, cracks, and rough edges of Wabi Sabi objects make them all the more beautiful. You can find Wabi Sabi in a patched dress or a cracked mug that has been repaired.

We can also find Wabi Sabi in ourselves. We are all imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Rather than having that be a source of stress, it can be a source of beauty. The cracks and bumps we acquire, inside and out, can make us all the more beautiful. The wisdom we have accumulated over the years shows up not only in our minds, but can be seen on our faces. I think that is a beautiful thing, and something worth celebrating.



You Gotta Live


I was recently helping a six-year-old read a book. The book was entitled Alive or Not Alive and went through an array of people, animals, and objects, categorizing them as either “Alive” or “Not Alive.” I.E. “The man is alive. The hat is not alive.”

The boy I was working with took one look at the book cover and closed his eyes thoughtfully. “Oh man,” he said. “You gotta live! I mean, you really gotta LIVE!”

I tried my hardest to keep from laughing as we worked through the remainder of the lesson. Later, I shared this humorous moment with a few friends and coworkers.

Slowly, though, what started as a funny moment in my day became a new mantra.

Friend was worried about taking time off? “You gotta live!”

Husband worried about splurging on something he’s been wanting for a long time? “You gotta live!”

I’m worried about spending my Saturday relaxing instead of tackling my to-do list? “Stacey, you gotta live!”

It’s too easy to get caught up in the the day-to-day drama, the stress, the never-ending list of things that could be done. But- living with intention means we have to be deliberate about stepping out of the rat-race every single day, even if just for a moment. It’s an exercise that takes practice. It means learning to swim against the current. It means prioritizing our dreams.

Life is short. It’s even shorter when we forget to live it.

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