Coaching Happiness

martinseligmanNo matter what else, one of the roles of a coach is to support a client’s happiness.  Happiness is one of those fundamental human needs.  What’s the one thing you want for your children, your spouse and your friends?  And you want it for your coaching clients as well.  If you produce nothing else in a coaching engagement, if your client goes away happier, it’s successful.

At the same time, happiness is an elusive concept.  You are not quite sure what happiness is to your client.  Interestingly, there has been some recent research that is very fruitful for coaches.

Martin Seligman gave a TED talk a few years ago about positive psychology.  His general framework was about the changes in psychology from a field that looked at sickness and healing to one that has a growing focus on building better lives for healthy people. One of his central topics was about the differences between happy people and the rest of the world.  There are really three aspects to happiness.

The first type of happiness is the pleasant life.  Good food, good friends and all of the activities that make you smile. Interestingly, this is the least powerful type of happiness.  We tired of “the pleasant life” after a while.

The second type of happiness is the good life.  This is the type of life where time seems to stop.  Where you are so engaged that you don’t even notice the passage of life around you.  We often talk about this as living your strengths and your passions.

The third type of happiness is the meaningful life. This is not only knowing your strengths, but also using them in service to a higher cause.

For more details, take a few minutes and listen to Martin Seligman explain.

As a coach, you have an opportunity to really tune into your client, discover their strengths and passions, and then support them as they put those attributes to use.  That’s the happiness that will really matter.

What do you think?  How will you support your client’s happiness?