Or so Ken Dodd would have us believe, but how much time do we take to really acknowledge and celebrate this wonderful gift? And what do we mean by ‘happiness’ anyway?
Look into any newspaper or watch the television news and you might think that there is nothing to be happy about. It seems as though each day brings with it some new piece of research telling us how miserable we are. Headliness such as “Stressed-out adults spend 36 minutes a day in despair” (Daily Mail, 1st June 2011) and “Six in ten of us have faced mental issues such as stress or depression” (Metro, 7th March 2010) leap out at us as we eat our breakfasts, suggesting that happiness is far from the ‘norm’.
Through my work (as a counsellor for fifteen years and a life coach for seven) I am reminded on a daily basis of how ‘deficit focused’ our society seems to have become. More and more clients seem to be coming to me for counselling in great distress about what they perceive as lacking either within their lives, or more commonly, within themselves. This perception of themselves or their lives not being ‘good enough’ tends to leave them feeling unpleasant emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, resentment, guilt and struggling to feel acceptance, joy or gratitude (all of which, I was later to discover are key elements to happiness).
So, as I was on something of a quest to help my clients rediscover their sense of happiness (and to get some clarity on what it means to me), I was very pleased to be offered a place on Robert Holden’s ‘Coaching Happiness’ course in London earlier this year. The course promised to equip me with a set of proven methods that “psychologists have hailed as a genuine fast-track to happiness”.
What I took away from those five days with Robert and his team is more than I can begin to write here. What I will say is that I was delighted to hear that one of the first steps on the path to happiness is self-acceptance as this related so clearly to my own experiences and those of my clients. Of this, Robert says:-
No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.
I now find myself at the point of incorporating my learning into my work with clients in a way that continues to accept their experience of themselves, their lives and their feelings and values the growth that can come from woundedness and suffering, whilst acknowledging the totality of that experience and the place of love, happiness and self-acceptance within this.
As Robert also says:-
Happiness is not the absence of sadness, it is the ability to face sadness and to face it with love and not fear.
Since completing my training and receiving my certificate as a ‘Happiness Coach’(!) I have offered some one-to-one happiness coaching sessions to existing clients and delivered a two-day taster course on how to be happy. The feedback so far has been positive and I have lots of thoughts on how to take this forward. However, I am open to any ideas from readers of the newsletter and can be contacted on 07866395553 or firstname.lastname@example.org
…. I thank the Lord that I’ve been blessed with more than my share of happiness