I Just Want to be Happy!
Often when I ask clients what they want to take from coaching, they will say: ‘I just want to be happy!’ This statement needs unpacking. Happiness is a vague term. It’s an experience that can be quite fleeting and frequently being happy is only recognised when looking back on life. But if you want to be happy then one of the first things to do is to ask yourself what are the elements that contribute to your experience of happiness.
Do you find that you want something ‘to happen yesterday’ and think that will make you happy? For example, if you are developing a business start-up, do you expect it to be successful in 3 months without planning the specifics? If you want to lose weight, do you go on crash diets and put it back on again and more? Or are you still waiting for the perfect one in your love life? Does what you want ever happen? This is where I offer clients a few simple exercises for reflection. You might like to give them a go.
a) First, think of a past event and finish the sentence: ‘I was happy when….’
Use all your senses to answer that statement – what did you see/hear/touch/taste/smell and what emotions arose?
Are you beginning to get a better sense of what happiness means to you?
Everyone has different expectations of happiness, but some are better than others at achieving this.
What’s the secret? There can be a variety of ways of inviting greater happiness into your life. Studies suggest that people who set goals are more likely to be happier, healthier and financially better off than those who don’t have any goals. Research has also identified 3 particularly important attributes to goal setting: the goal must motivate you, there must be a strong reason for attaining that goal and it needs to be thoroughly planned. When setting goals, use the SMART approach. Is your goal Specific enough? Can you Manage the steps to reach it? Is it Achievable and Realistic? Have you decided a Time by which you want to have reached the goal?
b) The following framework can be useful in making progress towards being happier.
*Think about what you might need to do to feel this. Divide your overall goal into smaller chunks of time and write them down:
- 1 week
- 1 month
- 1 year
- 3 years
*Close your eyes and see yourself sitting in your own personal cinema in a comfy plush seat. Just breathe slowly and feel yourself settling into the chair. You are watching a special film – it’s the film of your own life as you want it. Now feel yourself rising out of your seat and floating up and into the screen. Step into your future self. Use all your senses – sight, sound and so on and walk around in the self that you want to be. When you are satisfied that your future self is really part of you, return to your seat and open your eyes.
*Finally, make a contract for those goals with yourself. Sign it and ideally have a buddy witnessing your contract. Review at least weekly. You could be surprised by how much progress you have made.