Let’s start with some real reflections from the Lake District – we’re enjoying a few days of golden autumn sunshine. Thank you to my musician friend Fiona who captured this beautiful view across Windermere.
I promised a few more thoughts on workshops I’ve delivered recently. The one I co-facilitated at the Cumbria Coaching Network‘s Coaching for Happiness conference with Beth Curl of Hyproformance was called Happiness from Within, and explored how some of our beliefs about happiness – often influenced by early family messages – can affect our later experiences. Our participants had many thoughtful insights, both in the group discussions and in feedback afterwards. One mentioned two things that had a big impact on her, so I thought I would share them with you.
When we were discussing happiness beliefs, some participants felt that the message in their families was that you had to work hard first in order to ‘earn’ happiness later – otherwise you didn’t deserve it. I shared Robert Holden‘s observation that happiness is a non-deserving issue – it’s a natural state, and one we can tune into it whenever we choose. Anyone who’s spent time around small children can observe their simple enjoyment of the here-and-now – they don’t put off feeling pleasure and joy until they feel they’ve earned it! When do we start feeling we have to wait until we deserve it?
Later, we discussed how easy it is to experience happiness when involved in doing something that you love, and that fits with your purpose and values. Again, Robert Holden says that ‘there’s a world of difference between chasing happiness and following your joy’. Yes indeed, and giving up the hunt for happiness frees up so much energy which can be channelled into those areas of life which give you most fulfilment.
I also presented a happiness workshop recently to a group of coaching colleagues through the EMCC. It was interesting that when we touched on happiness in the workplace, a couple of them talked about working within organisations to create a positive, inclusive and encouraging culture that would benefit all staff. However, they said that although they talked about aspects such as wellbeing, values, improving staff morale and motivation, they steered clear of using the word happiness – one said ‘I don’t think the organisation would like that!’ Funny – though I notice that employees are often pretty outspoken on what they’re unhappy with – no taboo there!
The topic of childhood happiness also cropped up in discussion and one participant said wistfully, ‘I wonder when it is that little boys stop skipping?’ (I’m pleased to say that this prompted a quick skip around the room from some of the grown-up boys – and girls – there). I thought of another workshop I facilitated last month, where two members of the group said firmly, ‘I don’t want to grow up’. I’ve heard other people say this too, and guess they must associate growing up with taking on a burden of responsibilities and leaving behind the playfulness of childhood. But who makes the rules? Can we grow up and still have fun? If Cumbria Coaching Network‘s own laughter coach Keith Adams of Laughter Aspirations is anything to by, the answer’s yes – I’m sure Keith won’t mind me saying that although he may not be so young in years, he’s living proof that a daily dose of silliness keeps you young at heart. As George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
So I’ve raised a few questions here and would love to know what you think. How would your life be if you didn’t have to earn happiness? (Clue: you don’t!) How do you follow your joy? How much happiness, fun and laughter are adults allowed? (Think big!) And when it comes to business coaching, is happiness a dirty word? Please share your ideas below!