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Coaching Happiness

One of the really odd topics that come up during executive coaching sessions is the subject of happiness. It boils down to... do you believe as a coach that you can coach happiness?



Do you believe as a coach that you can coach happiness?

Well, the answer is yes, but you need to define happiness. Happiness is not a state of bliss. Happiness is not a condition of endless joy. Really happiness is having a better balance of reduced negative feelings, reduced negative stress, replacing that with more positive feelings and spending more of your time in a happier frame of mind than in a stressed-out, negative frame of mind.

If you reflect on some of the old adages, the ancient wisdom contained inside those stories, for example; happiness isn't having what you want, it's wanting what you have. Take time to smell the flowers as you go through life.

What do you really want? Happiness or success? If you want happiness, why do you spend so much time making yourself unhappy chasing success? And so, as a coach in an executive coaching program, it's trying to raise the awareness in the coachee that they're in control of most of this. The only person that really puts them under stress in themselves, events that are beyond their control are exactly that - beyond their control. So, their choice of how they react to life is within their control and therefore they can choose to react stressfully or positively, they can seek the opportunity in the situation, or they can seek the threat.

Bringing a balance to people's perception of the world and their reactions to it, bringing a more objective, less emotional view of what's going on is the role of the coach. You can't make bad things go away. You can't pretend they don't happen, but you can help people realise that there are also good things that happen, there are joyous things that happen, and that's the human condition. And so, by making the most of the good things and playing down the worst of the bad things, you can strike a happier, more harmonious. more fulfilling or enjoyable balance.

In a coaching session, a lot of this unhappiness can appear in different guises. It can appear in stress. It can appear in indecision. It can appear in poor work-life balance. It can appear in low levels of motivation and energy. All of which are fixable. All of which by raising the client’s head and looking a bit higher onto the horizon, looking for the sun and not the cloud, you begin to help them find a new balance - a better balance.

Again, without raising expectations to the point of silliness, you can get people to recognise that happiness is a state of not being unhappy; being satisfied with the good things you've already got rather content rather than continually chasing the better things you don't have. That's not to say people shouldn't be ambitious. That's not to say people shouldn't strive. It's not to say that people shouldn't want more. But beating yourself up for not having achieved it, and being impatient about what it takes to get there is unhelpful.

One of the easiest ways of explaining this sort of feeling is looking at, for example, a lead sportsman, and you better relate to this probably from your own personal experience. When you're in the zone, when they are in the zone, they make things look easy - whether it's running fast, whether it's High Jump, whether it's playing football, they are able to give the impression that it's easy because they're in a sense of flow. And, you know, from your own life, there are things that you love doing; whatever it is, whether it's a hobby or a moment in time or a holiday where everything is just simple, everything just comes with an easy flow. The more of your time that you can spend in that easy flow scenario (as opposed to stressing and stretching and worrying) the happier and more balanced your life is going to be.

So, the answer to the question Can a coach, coach happiness? Is yes. Merely by raising awareness of what happened is really is, and how the coachee can make the decisions for themselves as to how they achieve that.


So, there you have it, the latest edition of The Coaching Conversation. I hope you found it interesting. I hope you found it useful. You can find out more about our coaching programmes at

If you want to reach out you can send us an email at you can book a free 15-minute coaching session at which will give you a really good feel for how coaching can help you.

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