Dr. Samuel Gerstein and Dreams for Real

The Jewish Tribune – December 13, 2007


By Shlomit Kriger
Tribune Correspondent

TORONTO – Do you look forward to going to work at the start of the week? Feeling confused about your life direction?

According to Dr. Samuel Gerstein, a Toronto psychotherapist, emergency physician and founder of Dreams for Real Inc., less than about 10 per cent of people in the workforce love what they do. Having journeyed on his own path to living his dream, Dr. Gerstein is dedicated to assisting others in doing the same and feeling truly fulfilled with their lives.

He has worked with an office manager turned healing therapist, a scientist that has become an entrepreneur, and a fundraiser for non-profit organizations now in the real estate industry, just to name a few.

“These were people formerly in jobs they thought they were stuck in and now realized they don’t have to be,” he said. “When I see people stand in their power and know who they are, there’s nothing better than that for me now.”

While many people grow up with the belief that people can’t always get what they want, especially when it comes to working to make a living, Dr. Gerstein has discovered that feeling frustrated at work can not only cost people’s overall happiness, but also their health.

Dr. Gerstein has been an emergency physician at a hospital for more than 25 years. Through this position, he has treated people with diverse ailments, including ulcers, chronic headaches, high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Over the years, he started noticing trends in the kinds of people that would come to the hospital, and even saw some of the same patients return for additional treatment. He realized he was treating the symptoms but not targeting the roots of their problems.

Dr. Gerstein spoke with some of these patients about how they felt about their lives and discovered many were stressed out and dissatisfied with their jobs.

“Various medical studies have now verified that stress is a significant contributor to many illnesses,” he said.

He then felt something was missing from his work and decided he would like to do more to help people with similar issues and mitigate work stress.

As a result, in 2001, he founded Dreams for Real, a company through which he offers courses, resources, and more aimed at assisting others in discovering their ideal careers and embarking on them.

In 2002, he began an intensive research study on work satisfaction and health under the direction of his company. Over the next three years, he interviewed more than 200 people from various career fields who love what they do.

Part of Dr. Gerstein’s research and insights gathered from those he interviewed culminated into a book released this past summer titled Live Your Dreams: Doctor’s Orders. In the book, he outlines key common elements the interviewees had used to overcome obstacles on their paths to their dream careers and how others can use the same techniques.

Some of the common elements include following passions people had throughout childhood, being influenced by the careers of one’s parents, or even using painful experiences from the past as a reason or motivator for people’s present job paths. For example, a man who was teased a lot as a child and had a stuttering problem became a motivational speaker helping others feel good about themselves.

Dr. Gerstein’s findings also inspired and further motivated him to open his own psychotherapy practice in 2005 so he could work more closely with people in helping them to overcome their own limiting beliefs and obstacles and take action toward what they really want in life.

He found that there are some commonly held myths keeping people stuck in dissatisfying jobs; a major one relating to the idea that money translates into happiness. The people he had interviewed that enjoy their jobs but are at the low end of the income scale told him they would not change careers with those earning more. He also spoke with people in the same career whose income levels varied greatly.

“In many cases, income has more to do with how many people you serve than with what you do,” he said. “Doing what you love will stand you in good stead.

“You will be more likely to want to learn about your field of interest, have more to offer because you will be on the leading edge of your industry, and you will be in an excellent position to earn more.”

A significant part of what holds people back from taking risks and pursuing their passions also stems from fears and beliefs acquired through their upbringing, notes Dr. Gerstein. Caregivers in particular largely affect the way children come to view the world and themselves.

Parents often relay a set of “rules” that children learn to accept and rely on, which play an important role in their safety. But children also hear labels about themselves, whether they’re nice, quiet, troublemakers, or stupid, along with messages about how to get through life unharmed such as “you can’t do well if you make mistakes” or “don’t put your goals up too high or you may get hurt.”

The latter initially appears comforting as children grow up believing it’s all simply helping to protect them. But as they get older, they come to realize that much of what they learned had become so ingrained in their subconscious through repeated exposure over time that it’s actually stopping them from flourishing and becoming aligned with their authentic selves.

“Someone, for example, may decide to try something new,” explained Dr. Gerstein. “He does and it goes well, so he’s happy. Then someone criticizes him for what he did, and a small part of him tells him, ‘You see, you’re not smart enough and people will judge you. Get back over to that place where you’re safe.’”

Dr. Gerstein calls that small voice that people always hear in their heads trying to keep them “safe” their “personal bodyguard.” He uses different tools with his clients to help them become aware of how their bodyguard plays a role in their lives and to learn to overcome their limiting beliefs so they can take positive steps toward what they really want and what will bring them joy.

For more information, visit www.dreamsforreal.com.