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“Make your life your own” With Beau Henderson & Dr. Tina B. Tessina

I think we push too much for financial success, and don’t focus enough on getting to know who we are and what we really want. The wealth gap, which divides us into the 1% who have the vast majority of the wealth, the so-called middle class who are comfortable, and the poor, who are barely […]

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I think we push too much for financial success, and don’t focus enough on getting to know who we are and what we really want. The wealth gap, which divides us into the 1% who have the vast majority of the wealth, the so-called middle class who are comfortable, and the poor, who are barely getting by, also contributes to unhappiness. Competition does not bring happiness, and neither does money.


As a part of my series about how to live with Joie De Vivre, I I had the pleasure of interviewing Tina B. Tessina, PhD LMFT

She is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 40 years’ experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 14 books in 17 languages, including Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today; It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty; Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, The Real 13th Step , How to Be Happy Partners: Working it Out Together and How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free. Find her at http://www.tinatessina.com


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I lost my dad when I was 18, but didn’t really process the emotions at that time. Then, at 27, I went to therapy because of marital problems, and eventually got a divorce. When all the accumulated grief of those things began to come out, I went much deeper into therapy, and began to learn about my emotional terrain. But, on some level, I think I became a psychotherapist mostly because of my mother — she suffered from undiagnosed depression, and I wanted a way to heal her, which never happened. In the process of all this, I discovered that I had a gift, and since then, psychotherapy has been “my job on Earth” as Dr. Bernie Seigel describes a true vocation.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I was signing books at the American Booksellers Assn. Conference in Los Angeles. A young man came by whose name tag said he was from Mexico. I greeted him in my few words of Spanish, and he moved on. I had a long line seeking autographs, and I forgot about it. A couple of weeks later, I got an email with the subject “An Invitation to Mexico” I thought it was spam, but my publisher told me my book “The 10 Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make Before 40” had been published in Spanish, and the email was legit. Over the next year, I did two book tours in Mexico, one in Colombia, and one in Costa Rica, and had many exciting adventures.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

Before I was even licensed, when I was getting my 3,000 hours under supervision, I had a schizophrenic client who was on SSI. She had been through the system so much that she was very savvy, and used to make me feel inadequate every session, so after each session with her, I had to go for a session with my own mentor, to put myself back together. I learned a great deal from her about not falling into traps, letting the client be in charge of their own healing, and not assuming every client really wanted to heal.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mentor, Denton Roberts, M.Div., LMFT not only saved my life when I went to him overloaded with grief and despair for therapy, but later also became my supervisor and mentor. Also my first publisher, Al Saunders of Newcastle Publishing took a chance on my first book, which became a best seller, and Jeremy Tarcher of Tarcher Publishing took my writing to the next level.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As of 2020, The United States is rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?

I think we push too much for financial success, and don’t focus enough on getting to know who we are and what we really want. The wealth gap, which divides us into the 1% who have the vast majority of the wealth, the so-called middle class who are comfortable, and the poor, who are barely getting by, also contributes to unhappiness. Competition does not bring happiness, and neither does money.

Can you share with our readers your 5 strategies to live with more Joie De Vivre? Can you please give a story or example for each?

When you use smart decisions and self-awareness to shape your life, it will reflect your deepest aspirations and your fondest dreams.

• 1. Make your life your own. Decide to re-decide. Re-examine your goals and dreams. Don’t just assume that what you wanted yesterday is still right for you. Have your goals and dreams changed? Give yourself the freedom to decide today what you want your life to be about.

• 2. Make your job a joy. Decide to revitalize your career, or try a new one. Ask yourself if you’re really happy and stimulated with your work. If you’re not, or if you feel unappreciated or frustrated by lack of advancement, consider a change. Understand the corporate agenda and be realistic about advancement opportunities at your present job. If you feel you need a change, you may be able to move to a different position or department within your company, or you may want to look for a new job entirely. If you stay at your present job, ask for raises and promotions, if you feel that you’ve earned them.

• 3. Take it to the bank. Decide to secure your financial position. Get out of debt, keep yourself on a budget, invest your money wisely and keep abreast of your financial situation. Many people allow their partners to take care of financial matters, only to find themselves unprepared if they become divorced or widowed. Remember, financial stress is one of the greatest stressors of all

• 4. Why are you here? Decide to create meaning in your life. Identify the purpose and meaning of your life and define why you are here on earth. When you understand your purpose in life, losses are easier to bear and all other decisions are easier to make.

• 5. Share your bounty. Decide to give something back. Donate money or put your talents, skills and experience to use by volunteering for causes you care about. People who volunteer have been found to be happier and healthier than those who don’t. Remember that charity begins at home, so give to your own family, friends and neighbors.

Whatever you choose, if you make smart decisions, the best is yet to come. Using your creativity, and giving back from the wisdom you’ve gained through experience, will enhance your value to others and to yourself. — — excerpted from The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty https://tinyurl.com/yctuql47

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?

Mostly books:

Fiction: Possession by A.S. Byatt I keep rereading this book because of the wonderful prose, the poetry, and the parallel stories.

Non Fiction: Integral Psychology by Ken Wilbur Defined and clarified for me the original approach to psychotherapy I had developed from years of study and spiritual work.

Inspiration: The Messiah’s Handbook by Richard Bach; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been” — George Eliot I have lived by this precept that you can always be becoming a better, happier self, and I see it happening with my clients daily.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I think of my work as healing the planet, one person at a time. As I help my clients become comfortable with who they are and relax into more happiness in their lives and relationships, they not only improve their own lives, but are able to love the people around them more, and pass on what they learn.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I think, with the pandemic, that there is a great need for people to find a way to understand and express their grief. So I wrote a course: “Grief: What it is, Why we have it, and How to get through it” which is available at a very low price at https://generousmarriage.com/course/grief-ebook-course/

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I have it on a bumper sticker “Peace: Within yourself, Within your family, Within the world.”

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