Marilia Baker, MSW

Cultivating the Art of Le Petit Bonheur: Facing Depression One Moment at a Time

This presentation introduces the concept of le petit bonheur, meaning "little happiness", or "smallest moments of happiness" or, more comprehensively "finding happiness in the small things of everyday life" posited by philosopher Hannah Arendt in the 1940s, as she observed this practice by the French people amidst the context and destruction of the Second World War years. I have appropriated and adapted this useful concept in my clinical practice, particularly within the necessarily multipronged approaches to depression and its continuum. This concept is useful not only in clinical settings but also a highly effective suggestion for cultivating everyday feelings of joy and well-being.

Given the usual presence of dichotomous thinking, cognitive distortions, and habitual negative attitudes in the suffering human, and how he or she "does depression", I illustrate how this conceptual treatment component - le petit bonheur, or "little happiness" - might be useful. To this end I also borrow from several prominent thinkers and practitioners in psychotherapy, and demonstrate, as well, how I incorporate seven of Milton Erickson's core strategies, focusing - moment by moment- on the exceptions to one's sadness, grief, angst, apathy, misery, and despair.

Marilia Baker is a multicultural, multilingual Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Originally from Brazil, she is Board Member of the Phoenix Institute of Ericksonian Therapy and International Consultant to Centro Ericksoniano de Mexico. Ms. Baker is the author of A Tribute to Elizabeth Moore Erickson: Colleague Extraordinaire, Wife, Mother, and Companion, also published in Spanish, Portuguese and French.