A friend called me in tears, mentioning that she was stuck in a serious rut and was finding little joy in life. She asked me if I had any recommendations for counselors in her area. I was happy that she was looking to bring in outside help. Her unhappiness was no surprise to me, as I have learned that Americans, in general, are feeling worse and worse each year. Anxiety has risen from 1 in 12 adults to 1 in 3 adults over the past few years, as reported by the National Institute of Mental Health.
However, as I listened to my friend’s story, I felt like she might benefit from a more coaching-oriented focus. While exploring one’s past can be quite helpful, I also find value in coaching, which is more future and goal oriented. (And is actually a good deal of fun!) I asked my friend if she had considered working with a coach privately or joining a coaching class to help her clarify her goals, and she decided to focus on this approach instead.
Coaching is a fairly new field, and many are unfamiliar with what coaching actually entails. A client usually comes to a coach when something they are doing is just not working. Or they feel unhappy or unfulfilled, are in transition, or feel there is just something missing in their lives. A Positive Psychology Coach will begin by asking the client to define their “why.”
- Why are they looking to make change in their life, and what specific improvements are they hoping to make?
- When the client was feeling their very best in life, what did that look like and what were they doing at that point?
- What would life look like in three months, or one year, or five years if their dreams came true and their goals were met?
Next, a coach will help a client clarify these desires and then prioritize small and specific action steps that will be taken in order to meet these goals. For example, a middle-aged woman whose last child has left for college may feel a bit lost and seek out coaching. She might wish to redefine her life at this crucial stage by deciding to prioritize self-care through nutrition, sleep, and movement; learning more about mindfulness and incorporating stress-reducing techniques into her life; and/or finding new ways to access joy and engagement in life.
The client has laid out her desires for a better future and her ideal self. Now the fun begins!
After the client’s goals are defined, the client might learn to implement the following positive psychology concepts:
- Shaping YourSELVES: We have many versions of ourselves, and it is up to us to define and then show up as this best version of oneself.
- Happiness Set Point: Rather than successful people being the happiest, the happiest people are the most successful. One of the ways that we can increase our happiness is by working on our cherished goals.
- Optimize Well-Being, as defined by the Wholebeing Institute’s SPIRE, or Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, and Emotional well-being. We use many tools, such as the SPIRE Check-In, to gauge our well-being in the present moment through each individual perspective. With this awareness, we can make small shifts to increase our well-being in one or more areas.
- Focus on Strengths: People who use their strengths at work are six times more likely to be engaged at work and three times more likely to have an excellent quality of life, according to the VIA Institute. Using the Values in Action Character Strengths survey, we identify our strengths, learn about how to use strengths in the right balance, and how to strength spot ourselves and others.
Using these approaches and many more, a client—like my friend—can learn to get back on track and become happier and even healthier. If you’re looking to make change in your life, or if you’re a coach who wants to add more tools to your toolkit, check out Wholebeing Institute’s Positive Psychology Coaching courses.
Sandy Campbell, a 2018 CiWPP graduate, is a Health and Wellness Coach, and holds an MS in Counseling from Villanova University, a degree from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification. After working for 10-plus years for a major pharmaceutical company, Sandy decided to step out of the corporate world and focus on improving her health, quality of life, and happiness. Her passion evolved into helping others meet their full potential through small but highly impactful dietary and lifestyle shifts. Focusing on nutrition, stress management, and positive psychology, Sandy works with clients in person and remotely; leads corporate wellness workshops for businesses and organizations, including the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, and the Community College of Allegheny County; and leads on-site and online programs, including her 11-Day Pure Energy Program, a clean eating boot camp. Learn more at sandycampbell.net or on Facebook at Sandy Campbell Wellness.