Lately I’ve been hearing some misconceptions about what working with a wellness or life coach can do for you. There seem to be some people who are looking for the ultimate fix. The silver bullet that will eliminate all the issues standing between them and happiness. I would love to say that as coaches, we have all the answers. We can fix your life, remove all barriers, and hand you an issue-free life on a platter. I would love to say that. And I would be lying.
The truth is that a happy existence is not one free of strife or difficulties. We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes they are even great days or horrible days. Or weeks or months. The difference, however, between having a happy existence or a miserable one lies in how we view and deal with life’s challenges as well as its rewards. Learning how to eliminate setbacks or problems is not the key to a happy life. The key to a happy life can be determined by our attitude and behavior when managing those setbacks or problems.
One of the most important tools for crafting a satisfying existence is very simple one.
Optimism is crucial to understanding that bad situations are temporary and will change at some point. That understanding is an incredibly powerful tool. The people who hold this attitude are more likely to navigate through bad times more quickly and with less adverse effects than those who cannot see an end to a problem.
Sounds great. But what if you are not someone who always sees the glass as half full? Is there anything you can do to change that?
The short answer is–yes, you can.
One way to do this is to start with something called the Three Good Things Exercise. Every evening for at least a week, write down three good things that happened to you during the day. They don’t have to big things. Could be getting a parking space close to the store. Or they could be big things. Getting a new job or promotion would count on that list. For every item, ask yourself these questions. 1) Why did this happen? 2) How does it effect you? 3) Can you manifest more of this in the future? 4) Are you grateful for it?
This is a variation on the gratitude exercise in which you list three things you are grateful for. The purpose is to shift attention away from the negative and focus more on the positive aspects of daily life. Guess what? It works. Research shows that more people maintained a positive attitude for a longer period after completing the exercise than those who did not. And not to go all Pollyanna, but I can vouch for it from personal experience.
Another exercise is a bit longer but worth the time. For one month, keep a record as to whether it was a good or bad day, and what happened that made you feel that way. This doesn’t have a to be a long journal entry. Just a few words to note the condition of the day. When you review the entries at the end of the month, chances are you will notice a pattern between good and bad entries. The results will most likely support the phrase “This, too shall pass”. If you see a pattern emerge as to how you regard and react to difficult situations, it can be easier to recognize them as a temporary period when they arise in the future. This exercise can also act as a springboard for a mindfulness practice, but more on that later.
It is impossible to eliminate difficulties in this life. To strive for that is simply unrealistic. But how we deal with adversity has a great deal to do with the quality of our lives. As Sylvia Boorstein points out in her classic book It’s Easier Than You Think, managing life’s difficulties gracefully is a something worth striving for.
So if you want to bring a little more positivity into your outlook, why not give these two exercises a go. It can’t hurt. It doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t take a lot of time, no equipment needed, and just may change the way you look at life for the better.
And especially in today’s world, a little extra positive energy in our attitude is something we could all benefit from.
Are you ready to discover how the power of one-on-one coaching can help you break down self-imposed barriers and reach your Personal Best? Click here to schedule a complimentary strategic coaching session and see if wellness coaching is right for you.
Ref: Flourish, Martin Seligman, 2011
Ref: It’s Easier Than You Think, Sylvia Boorstein, 1997