The benefits of happiness are significant and widespread and extend far beyond just feeling good. Happier people tend to enjoy better health, live a longer life, have closer friendships, are more creative and productive at work and in life, and achieve greater success. Research has demonstrated that a number of positive psychology practices can effectively raise our level of happiness.
Research studies show that the happiest people tend to:
- Express gratitude and count their blessings
- Nurture relationships with family and friends
- Practice optimism regarding the future
- Savour the positive experience in their lives
- Commit to and achieve meaningful goals
Given the nature of coaching, positive psychology is an easy fit. Clients seek out coaching for a full range of issues, but underneath all of these issues the desire to increase their overall sense of well-being and happiness. Positive psychology provides important practical foundations to the techniques and strategies that coaches use to help clients realise their goals on the path to greater well-being.
The following 6 exercises are based in positive psychology and are very useful when coaching:
- One door closes, another door opens: Consider a moment in your life when a negative event led to positive consequences that you were not expecting. Write about this each day.
- Gratitude letter: Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has had a positive impact on you.
- Three good things: Jot down three things that went well for you each day and give an explanation as to why these good things occurred.
- Gift of time: Offer the “gift” of your time to people this week. These “gifts” should be in addition to your planned activities.
- Counting kindness: Keep a log of all the kind acts that you do in a particular day. Jot them down by the end of each day.
- Three funny things: Write down the three funniest things that you experienced or participated in each day; also write about why the funny thing happened (e.g., was it something you created, something you observed, something spontaneous?)
Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, describes five important building blocks of well-being and happiness, which he calls PERMA and which are not uncommon in coaching practice:
Positive emotions – feeling good
Engagement – being completely absorbed in activities
Relationships – being authentically connected to others
Meaning – purposeful existence
Achievement – a sense of accomplishment and success
Positive psychology coaching is a strengths-based approach with evidence showing that the greatest potential for growth comes from focusing on strengths rather than fixing weaknesses.