Charles Duhigg: “Productivity emerges when people push themselves to think differently” -

How to Coach for Happiness

We’ve been pursuing happiness ever since the Founding Fathers declared it as one of our constitutional rights – and yet, seldom have we truly “had” it. Let me explain…

We seek to engineer our lives, our work, and our relationships in such a way that we bend and bow to something intangible and oftentimes elusive. It’s like we’re all taught that there’s some formula for what we’re supposed to do, how hard we’re supposed to work, and what the circumstances are supposed to be, so we can THEN have happiness. The act of trying to produce (or rather control) a gleeful disposition becomes manufactured.

If we continue to live this way, one of two things is inevitable. First, happiness will remain fleeting because the so-called “right circumstances or events” that make us feel happy are temporary and ever-changing. Second, this view will have us trying to create more moments of happiness than unhappiness – as if tipping the scales with just one-more-happy-moment creates real contentment. Happiness, with all its irony, is not something to be achieved.

You see, happiness is actually not a goal, nor an outcome – even though it’s treated like one. This blissful state doesn’t need to come as a result of the right combinations of actions, circumstances, or achievements.

Happiness is actually a way of being and living. Coming at life from a place, a mindset, of pure joy is what creates authentic, sustainable happiness.

Consider this… when you’re happy, what’s different about your view of life? Your view of others? If something doesn’t go as planned, but you’re truly happy within, what reaction do you have, if any?

The key to coaching for happiness is to help create a view of what life would look like if you approached it with exuberance already in your heart and mind.

Here are some steps and coaching questions for you to begin building this happiness mindset and putting it into action.

  • Start by calling to mind an impactful experience when you felt true happiness – a profound sense of deep, authentic joy. Picture it in your mind. Put yourself back there. Look around, bring back what you felt, and fully experience it.
  • Happiness usually brings a whole host of other emotions and feelings with it. What else – such as peace, calmness, connection, or other emotions – did you feel? And what did you feel in terms of any sensations, warmth or coolness, or any other physical feelings? Feel whatever comes up and consider how it enhances your connection to happiness.
  • As those feelings are still fresh, consider what qualities are present for you? Peacefulness, connectedness, joyfulness, optimism, safety, and gratefulness are just a few qualities that are commonly expressed by those completing this exercise. But for you personally, consider which qualities best embody your authentic happiness.
  • Now answer for yourself: Why are these feelings and qualities authentic for you? What about them represents who you know yourself to truly be? It’s just human nature that we don’t always fully express ourselves. Yet when we can connect to the qualities we want to more fully embody, it can get easier to “try them on” and see how well they fit us. Then you can decide which ones felt most aligned and authentic.
  • When you place yourself back in this state of happiness, with its accompanying feelings and most connected qualities, what beliefs and perceptions would then lead your life forward in ways that are fulfilling?
  • Next, even if something stressful came up, how would you handle it differently if you still felt that happiness within (regardless of any turmoil in the moment)? Plant the seed deeply now, that even when circumstances don’t go as you want, that doesn’t need to impact your sense of delight and wonder. In fact, you can use your true inner happiness to guide you through those moments with a greater ease and grace than ever before.
  • Finally, how can you put yourself into this happiness mindset on a daily basis – to prime your day and your life? Meditation, visualization, morning journaling, mindfulness practices, and even mindful exercise are typically some of the routines that help individuals start their day with the energy, intentions, and way of being that’ll let their happiness shine all week long.

Depending on how much time you put into your answers, the above can take you just 15 minutes or well over an hour to complete. However, to keep enhancing and building upon your happiness, consider keeping a journal for the next 30 days.

In the morning, spend just 10 minutes and journal on this question: If I approached this day from happiness, what would I see, hear, and do?

And then end your day with just 5 minutes of journaling on this question: In what ways did my happiness shine through the most?

You can let your mind go from there. If you wander into the territory of what didn’t go well or what didn’t work, that’s fine. Just ask yourself, what did that moment teach you about happiness and consider what you would do differently the next time.

Quite simply, if you really want to put your constitutional right to good use, here’s my coaching tip… don’t worry, be happiness.