This article presents the Happiness Model which has been developed through the master dissertation research (Leme, 2015) and can be classified as a model of personal and career transformation. The Happiness Model can effectively be applied in coaching and other professions which are meant for improving people’s life quality. The theoretical foundation of the Model reflects into the visual presentation of the Happiness Assessment Instrument that enables a quick and accurate insight into the areas of life where the person needs improvement or transformation. The Happiness Model encompasses the following components: life meaning, success, vital engagement, awareness and relationships. A similar model was developed by Lyubomirsky et al. (2005).
1.1 The Happiness Model and the Model of Sustainable Happiness
The Model of Sustainable Happiness (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005), which includes set point, life circumstances and intentional activities, describes that 50 % of our happiness is genetically determined, 10 % of our happiness is determined by life circumstances such as marital status, age etc, and 40 % of our happiness is determined by our intentional activities. Their definition of happiness relates to previously accepted opinion about the impact of positive affect (positive emotions), satisfaction with life and negative affect (negative emotions) on happiness. Taking the Model of Sustainable Happiness into consideration, it can be concluded that at least 50 % of our happiness can be influenced by us and the Happiness Model can help us. Intentional activities are chosen by ourselves. They can be meditation, physical exercises, training new skills, sports, going on holidays, etc. It is recommended that these activities are directed towards our development, relaxation and feeling of happiness.
However; the difference between the two models can be perceived in the emphasis on certain components that can have considerable impact on happiness. The Happiness Model does not focus on genetically determined influence, ie heritability of happiness, because this can provide excuses or hinder people from positive beliefs about the fact that the source of happiness is within us and what we need to do is reconnect with the source. Feeling of joy can be present irrespective of age, marital status, gender and similar life circumstances. When people live the Happiness Model, they are aware of their life meaning, set harmonious and coherent goals, are aware of positive and negative emotions, exhibit happiness qualities, do happiness techniques, are aware of their health state and have loving relationships. In this way we take care of our mental and emotional hygiene, maintenance of energetic levels which are constructive and protective. The path of personal growth in the state of flow and vital engagement reminds a person to be aware to what he/she is feeling, to what he/she is thinking and what conclusions he/she is arriving at. If we are masters of our inner world, our inner wisdom, then we are masters of our responses to the outer world.
2. Components and subcomponents of the Happiness Model
The Happiness Model with its components and subcomponents reminds us that we are the masters of our lives and that the awareness (especially self-awareness) has a major impact on happiness. Awareness is the link to a person’s true self.
Happiness is a person’s subjective feeling of happiness. The Assessment Instrument (Chart 1, p 21) provides the comparison between peoples’ subjective feeling of happiness and their evaluations of components and subcomponents of the Happiness Model. The main components of the Happiness Model include life meaning, success, vital engagement, awareness and relationships. Each of these components has subcomponents as defined in the second column of Table 1. What exactly is meant by these subcomponents is revealed with questionnaires (Table 3, p 19; Annex 1, p 24). In the third column of Table 1 there are subcomponents which, although they are not part of the visual assessment instrument, provide recommended clues for further coach : coachee sessions.
Table 1: Happiness Model Components and Subcomponents
2.1 Life meaning
People who are aware of their life meaning and have reconnected with their true being, other people and the universe, are spiritual people. Spiritual does not mean religious. People experience their spirituality in different ways: connecting in various spiritual groups, reading spiritual literature, meditating, visualizing, affirming, practicing mindfulness, walking in nature, doing yoga, having deep insightful conversations, writing diaries, singing, creating, dancing and many other activities which help us connect to our inner being and inner wisdom. Spirituality leads us from being victims, blaming others for our misfortunes, through manifesting and taking responsibility for our lives, to being aware of our true selves and dissolving barriers between people. Many positive psychologists (Lopez and Snyder, 2009; Petrson and Seligman, 2004) argue that spirituality enables deeper understanding of ourselves and our lives. Devotion to spirituality increases the level of hope and optimism. Saroglou, Buxant, and Tilquin (2008; in Snyder and Lopez, 2011) have found out that spirituality impacts positive emotions and positive emotions have a positive influence on our behavior. Life meaning reflects in the sense that life has direction and is precious and valuable. Being connected to our life meaning means being aware of our personal life mission and purpose, ie nourishing our true self through being, understanding and experiencing life.
Life meaning includes understanding and purpose. Understanding is a person’s ability to find life patterns, consistency and importance of events and experiences in one’s life, and trust that there is a reason for people, things and happenings which are occurring in our lives. Our personal purpose can be expressed in various ways. Let us imagine a prism – there is one light that enters the prism: however, on the other side there is a palette of colorful lights coming out (Crane, 2013) presenting the forms in which we live this purpose through various roles in our lives. This palette of different roles is influenced by our pro-activity which reflects in setting and achieving our goals, responding to positive and negative situations, performing tasks in the state of vital engagement and flow. When we are aware of our purpose and mission, we can envision and feel exactly who we want to be, and this accelerates the realization of our goals.
Feeling that our life is precious and valuable is present when we disconnect with the ego, when we accept moments of beauty, relaxation, socialization, work or any other activity or person unconditionally, without judgement. What takes people further from the happiness and harmony is their wrong beliefs, negative emotions, such as anger, envy, fear etc. Life is precious when we are aware that we are doing the best we can, through love, compassion and respect.
If we feel bored and lack direction in our lives, it means that we are not in connection with our daily experiences. This is a call for inclusion of innovations and into our lives, selection of activities which create flow and the search for the spiritual awakening. Living in the present and not feeling anxious because of our past experiences and not being fearful about our future can set the right motivation for our goals which are in harmony with our values, virtues and strengths and our life purpose.
Some people feel happy when they are successful. They set their goals and strive hard to achieve them. They are pro-active in their functioning and do not only respond to outer stimuli. They see crises as stepping stones for new opportunities, are motivated and independent. They are satisfied when they meet their goals. However, it should be noted here that their happiness depends on something else. So, their sense of fulfillment is a consequence of the thought: I’m happy / satisfied because …. Rober Frank (in Haidt, 2011) argues that people often adapt to favorable circumstances. And after reaching one goal, soon they are looking for new destinations to progress to.
There are cycles of success when people thrive, and there are cycles of failure when people suffer. When failures occur it is good to make room for something new so that transformation can happen. Sometimes there is a period of renewal between the time when we have already achieved what we wanted and the time when we want to achieve something else. Patience and persistence are good virtues in such situations.
According to Emmons (1999) most of our life goals can be divided into four categories: work and achievements, relationships and trust, religion and spirituality, and generativity. He suggests that we evaluate the impact of goals on happiness through goal contents (what a person wants to achieve, improve etc), goal orientation (is it important to reach something or to avoid something) and goal parameters (goal systems, conflicts between goals).
Goals which increase happiness are creation of deep interpersonal bonds, spiritual goals, generative goals (creativity, helping and assisting people, having impact on future generations), improvement of self-esteem, social skills, self-discipline. All these goals contribute to personal growth, dedication and orientation needed for successful achievements.
Orientation goals show whether a person has chosen their own goals or they have been forced by someone else, whether they want to reach certain goals or avoid them, whether they want a change or just need to keep status quo, whether they have goals to be active or to be somebody. Emmons says that abstract goals (being totally honest, thinking positively, improving one’s knowledge about the world) can cause anxiety and depression, while behavioral goals (being funny and entertaining, being organized) can increase happiness, but at the same time cause diseases because people neglects their emotions. People who are achievement oriented are happier that those who are avoidance oriented. Avoidance can cause uneasiness and stress because it is more difficult and energy consuming. For instance, it is easier for a person to concentrate on what is good for him/her and work in this direction, than to concentrate on what is bad for him/her and try to avoid this at any cost.
Goal systems are good indicators of happiness. Structure can tell us a lot about goal interdependence, hierarchy, harmony and conflicts between the goals. Differentiation among goals warns us against conflicting goals and fragmentation inside the goal system as this can cause negativity and unhappiness. Change in goal systems can be an effective way of improvement of a person’s life. If a person sets unreal, conflicting, superficial, perfectionistic, self-destructive goals, their first step towards re-connection with happiness can be in the identification of these goals.
Sometimes people feel that after they have achieved their goals they will be happy. And most of the time they are. However; this happiness is short term because of the principle of adaptation. Usually most satisfaction is felt in the process of progressing towards our goals - it is the path that matters. Being diligent, but non-attached to our goals is another trait that can help us live a happy life. This means that we are flexible and able to change our goals if necessary. Expectations create mental representations and this is good as long as our wishes do not become demands and we become disappointed if they do not come true. When we give up attachment to expectations we start a healing process, we feel inner peace and happiness emerges.
Responsibility is a state of being accountable for someone or something. Performance of different roles in our lives: mother, father, sister, brother, employee, manager, friend, jogger, hiker etc, requires from us to meet various responsibilities what can cause anxiety and stress. In particular when people meet all their responsibilities and in the process do not feel motivated, are not in the flow and do not experience joy. In the Happiness Assessment Instrument (Chart 1, p 20) that can be applied in coaching, this may be represented with high values for success, low values for vital engagement, and high values for negative emotions.
2.2.4 Pro-activity and receptivity
Being pro-active in pursuing our goals enables us to create our own lives and not just react to external circumstances, opinions of other people, crises etc. It is essential to take responsibility for our own lives, to increase our inner power by increasing our inner wisdom which for sure is one of the strengths of happy people (Peterson and Seligman, 2004).
In her Conversations on Living, (1988) Louise L. Hay rises her arms and says “I’m open and receptive to all good.” This all good includes various areas and qualities of our lives: time, comfort, health, wisdom, friendship, love, success, money, and more. If we are not open and willing to receive, our set goals cannot help us. Being willing to receive means loving ourselves and loving our lives.
Pro-activity and receptivity are deeply connected with trust. If a person does not trust that there is a reason for persisting, surviving and facing challenges, and does not feel that life is meaningful, then they will not be motivated for understanding and coping with life.
2.3 Vital engagement
People can experience meaning in what they do when they perform their tasks with enthusiasm. Art, literature, research offer possibilities for creating a meaningful life through vital engagement (Nakamura, Csikszentmihalyi, 2002). Not only in art, literature and research, a person can experience vital engagement in any relation to the world, work, love, play, service, irrespective of how humble this relation is. It is important to perform in the flow, and experience meaning in relation to the world.
2.3.1 The flow
When a person is in the flow he/she is absorbed in the interaction with the world. Or, when a person is absorbed in the interaction with the world he/she can experience the flow. The state of flow has the following characteristics: strong focus on the present; activity and awareness merge; feeling of control of the situation; knowledge of how to respond; the experience is a reward in itself irrespective of whether it leads to greater achievements or not.
The traits which enable the experience of flow are: clarity in a person’s goals; constant feedback on the progress; sensing opportunities for activities which activate the person’s abilities. The experience of flow depends on the balance between the person’s abilities and challenges. When a person feels that challenges exceed his/her abilities, he/she becomes anxious and worried. When a person feels that his/her abilities are better than the challenge, he/she becomes relaxed, and later bored.
Csikszentmihalyi (2002) says that a flow activity inspires but does not exceed the person’s abilities. The flow is strengthened by music, other people’s activities and we can experience it during more individual activities such as painting, writing and taking photographs. The flow is a challenge as it takes all our attention. Satisfaction which accompanies the flow is different from pleasure. Seligman (2011) describes this satisfaction as personal fulfillment. In this state we do not feel tired, we learn something or achieve something or improve something. To find what fulfills us we have to be aware of our talents and virtues, says Seligman.
Personal traits such as curiosity, persistence, increase the possibility of experiencing the flow and impact its quality. The experience of flow differs among cultures. Moneta (2004; in Snyder and Lopez and Teramoto, 2011) writes that Chinese students did not experience the flow according to the model created by Csikszentmihalyi, as they were more successful when the level of their skills was higher that the challenge of the task. According to Csikszentmihalyi’s model people experience the flow when both the level of skills and the level of challenge are high – this information holds true for western populations and according to Asakawa (2004; in Snyder and Lopez and Teramoto, 2011) also for Japanese students. It is good to find out which activities trigger the flow and then invest our energy and attention into these tasks.
2.3.2 Enthusiasm and motivation
Motivation which is a consequence of the flow has another significant characteristic, namely subjective experience leads to new relationships and new long term goals. Experience can be positive because it helps us solve an issue or a problem. Motivation increases in the interaction with other people and with the research into the world. When a person performs an activity in the flow, he/she is engaged, enthusiastic and motivated. This helps him/her develop the skills.
Meaning can originate from personal sources, such as enculturation, solving life issues, and the experience of flow. Much of what is meaningful to us is part of our experiences, given to us by our families, culture and history. The crisis in experiencing meaning forces a person to set different goals or develop different understanding. Traumatic episodes can become sources of meaning too.
Our attitude towards our jobs shows how important it is to cooperate with the world in an enthusiastic way. People experience jobs in various ways. Some people feel that a job is only a source of money, some people feel that jobs are their careers, promotion, and some experience their jobs as a calling for serving the community. In their experiencing jobs as calling people combine their personal experience with meaning and this determines vital engagement. Feeling that our jobs are our callings can increase satisfaction and fulfilment with our work as well as with our lives (Wrzesniewski et al., 1997; in Nakamura, Csikszentmihalyi, 2002).
To be focused is to be mindful, concentrated and appreciative. Focus stands for doing activities through attention, peace and appreciation and not allowing the mind to wonder of. Being mindful and focused is a way of managing stress, being productive and feeling the sense of satisfaction, fulfillment and effectiveness.
To be focused is to be aware of our purpose and passion, to act in alliance with our values, to apply our virtues and strengths, to live what we stand for. To be focused means that we know where to invest our energy and where to surrender. In this way we sense that we are heading in the right direction.
Every day we come across many pieces of information. The information reaches our consciousness through selectivity of our attention. A person’s subjective experience is thus influenced by his/her decision of where to direct his/her attention. The quality of the directed attention impacts a person’s interaction with the environment and the quality of this interaction. Attention can be experienced in a boring or enthusiastic way.
Experiencing vital engagement in everything we do can help us realize our full potential. Self-actualization is in a way an experience of joy as a self-actualized person has more peak experiences, ie is more often in a state of flow. A self-actualized person experiences and expresses variety of emotions and has a high sense of appreciation. They do not judge themselves nor other people. They like to contribute to the world and they live in the present moment.
Awareness is the ability to perceive, feel the world through our emotions. We feel that something is right for us, we feel the situation, we feel the person, we feel health or disease, we feel the present moment, therefore we carefully choose.
Before every skill there is awareness. If we want to have good relationships, we have to develop empathy, forgiveness, love, compassion. If we want to be in good health, we have to be aware of mind-body connection. That is, how our thoughts impact our emotions and emotions influence our behavior. If we want to be successful we need to be aware of our passion. We often talk about emotional intelligence in terms of skills and awareness. In this paper the emphasis is on our ability to choose our emotions, beliefs, behaviors and be aware how they impact our life.
Being self-aware means having good perception of our thoughts, emotions, virtues, strengths, life purpose and flow motives and having the ability to focus our attention and choose what we want to feel.
2.4.1 Positive emotions
The heart is a bowl full of emotions, positive and negative, from sadness, fear, anger to love and joy. The first step needed to become more aware is a careful look into one’s own life, decisions. This can be difficult, in particular for people who like to hide from reality. The second step is courage. Courage demands to give up those habits which no longer serve us. And all this is powered by a person’s willingness to change. Sometimes we do not know where the change will take us. But that is acceptable, let us be surprised by the secrets of life.
Positive thinking does not mean anything if it is not supported by positive activities. If you want to find love you have to be a loving person who performs loving deeds. It is not enough just to pray for peace, you have to learn to forgive, and share peace with others. And in desiring more happiness it is good to take reasonable risks, be innovative and creative and be willing to share happiness with others.
Joy is a vital source of happiness. This is the source which is everlasting, it is always present. However, in a lot of people joy is secured by defense mechanisms, fear, strive for perfection. That is why a reconnection with this inner source is needed, our authentic true self, freed from defense mechanisms, fear and other harmful behaviors. Joy does not need condition to exist, it only needs to be freed from mind dominance and be felt again.
Holden (2009) says that unless we become aware that happiness is always present, irrespective of our egoistic pleasures or mental satisfaction, we will search for happiness in external sources, work, alcohol, shopping, drugs, gambling etc. It is our own choice how we want to reconnect with the source of happiness: through love, authenticity, expression of happiness qualities, development and application of virtues or strengths, happiness techniques. Some people reconnect with joy through suffering and in the times of crisis, as in suffering people often try to connect to something greater than the ego, to the sacred, universal. During these times they process negative experiences, breathe through negative emotions, and grow through awareness.
18.104.22.168 Feeling of being loved
When people say that they are not loved they often miss to understand that they are the ones not loving themselves. Not loving oneself reflects in critical and judgmental thoughts, alcohol, food, drug abuse, lack of physical and mental exercises. If a person has a low value for this item in the Happiness Assessment Instrument, he/she most probably has low values for relationships. And learning social skills can help only when the person reconnects with his/her true self, loves himself/herself and appreciates the present.
2.4.2 Happiness qualities
Happiness qualities as Holden (2009) calls them calls them include, among others: love, gratitude and forgiveness, which are our virtues and virtues lead to our strengths, for instance wisdom, courage, transcendence.
Love is stronger than fear. Children need love, hugs, favorable conditions and safe environment for their development. John Bowlby (in Haidt, 2011) says that lack of love in childhood may cause children to grow into adults who are loners or desperately dependent individuals. It has to be noted here that being separated from others is not the same as spending time in solitude. Loving ourselves is just as important as loving other people. When we love ourselves we have a positive opinion about ourselves, higher self-esteem, we do not feel inferior, imperfect or guilty.
Expressing gratitude increases sense of belonging, connection to people, to the environment and to the present moment. Isolation and loneliness are often a consequence of the lack of conscious gratitude. Gratitude is a link to life. Grateful people are, as a rule, pleasant, emotionally stable, self-confident, less narcissistic and less materialistic (Woodward et al., 2003; in Snyder and Lopez, 2009). Gratitude connects to spirituality and it is its virtue. We are grateful for every day, for every experience, for life.
22.214.171.124 Bing helpful
Serving others is fundamental purpose of life. If we look closely at our jobs, roles, we see that what we actually do is help others. People who participate in charitable events and voluntary activities are reported to be happier.
We all have experienced unfavorable situations, loss, sadness, so forgiveness is one of the keys to reconnection with happiness. We forgive ourselves, we forgive other people. Forgiveness also means giving up past disappointments. Of course we value the past, we learn from the past, but we do not live in the past. People who easily forgive find it easier to create a better future because they do not lose their energy in wishing the past to have been different. Eckhart Tolle (2004) suggests accepting whatever present moment contains as that it has been created by ourselves, and then acting; first accept and then act. Forgiveness positively correlates with happiness, health and interpersonal relationships. Seldom do forgiving people experience anxiety, depression, hatred (Thompson et al., 2005; in Snyder and Lopez, 2009). Rarely do they abuse alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances. Ability to forgive can enrich our social life in a community. In collective cultures forgiveness is essential for accomplishing highly valued social harmony. In such societies, this phenomenon is considered as collective forgiveness in which inner peace of individuals is inferior to societal harmony (Hook et al., 2009). Forgiveness does not mean that we approve of what has happened or that we approve of bad behavior, it simply means that we allow the situation to go so that we can proceed with our lives.
Trusting means opening our vulnerability to people and trusting they will not take advantage of us. Trusting means feeling love, comfort and not being suspicious and doubtful. Trusting means being aware that everything happens for our highest good and that there is coherence in life what means that things and events happen in regular and predictable ways, that we have skills, abilities and support, or resources, which are needed in order for us to cope with the situation, and that there is a reason or purpose for events which are happening in our lives.
126.96.36.199 Risk taking
Risk taking is not careless attitude. Risk taking is accepting opportunities, not being afraid of new suggestions, fearing something but doing it anyway. Risk taking is courage. However, courage does not mean that we must not be vulnerable. A spiritual person maintains the connection with his/her being, maintains that who he/she is in everything he/she does. To be able to accept own vulnerability, a person needs courage and courage is a strength (Mulej, 2008).
Courage means something else too. Being and belonging are factors which influence our work, love, relationships. Belonging means self-acceptance and facing fear and inferiority. Through belonging to society we feel our value. Cooperation with others means cooperation with ourselves. People who have courage for cooperation, know how to find and accept opportunities and how to live in the present. Living in the present, but being ready and willing to function, change, become, this is courage (Yang et al., 2010). And sometimes it involves risk taking.
188.8.131.52 Virtues and strengths
Peterson and Seligman (2004) describe 24 main virtues, and each virtue can develop into a higher strength as can be seen in Chart 5. Being aware of our virtues and strengths means that we apply them when we are in the time of crisis to improve the situation.
Table 2: Strengths and virtues
The strengths and virtues can well be compared to Maslow’s values of self-actualized people: truth, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, wholeness, justice, simplicity, richness, effortlessness and playfulness. People use their virtues and strengths for a purpose higher than their personal goals. Research has shown that people appreciate work, relationships and institutions which are in compliance with their virtues. It is recommended to use our strengths and virtues in new ways and in new circumstances and situations and not to focus on our faults. Their 2010 research proved their opinion as the students who applied their virtues were more successful in accomplishing their goals and increasing their happiness. The research of 2004 illuminates a strong link between hope, curiosity and love and the development of happiness. Research by other authors is also important. In 2003 Emmons and McCullough conducted the research into the understanding the relation between gratitude and happiness.
Strengths and virtues are used in the processes of solving our issues. We always rely on the most developed virtues. Holden (2009) describes the case of a student who complained that she was unable to forgive. Constantly she thought about how her closest family hurt her. Then she focused on one of her virtues – her ability to love. Every time she saw herself in the role of a victim, she remembered a positive experience about the person she was thinking about and in this way she triggered a sparkle of devotion. Every sparkle cut off her anger and temporarily she was saved before useless thinking rumination. Gradually her tiring thought pattern developed into a new habit and she became more indulgent. Another student who had undergone tumor surgery had 50 percent possibility of survival. She focused on her virtue – enthusiasm. She made a list of activities happening at the university and a list of beautiful parks in the area, visited them frequently and invited her colleagues to accompany her. She consciously decided to use her natural virtue of enthusiasm and she succeeded.
Strengths seem to be hard work and they are. We develop them by working on our personal traits and virtues and when this becomes reward in itself, our work becomes Csikszentmihaly's flow. If our virtues are curiosity and education we will travel, visit museums and listen to lectures. If our virtues are gratitude and beauty we will enjoy observing mountains, walking through parks, listening to music, etc (Haidt, 2011).
Emmons (2003) refers to virtues as internal mechanisms for goal success. They make our lives meaningful, valuable and worth living. A spiritual person is aware of which goals are fulfilling and lead to the development of our higher selves and which only create the illusion of fulfillment. He believes that the most important virtues which involve setting appropriate goals and persisting in despite of setbacks and failures are prudence, patience and perseverance.
2.4.3 Negative emotions
It is very important to distinguish between our own emotions and emotions which are planted into us by other people, on purpose or unintentionally. When we communicate with other people, when we cooperate, we open emotionally. This openness causes that some people make us happy and others make us sad or angry. These emotions may remain in us also when we are no longer with those people. If these emotions are negative, then we may lose our motivation, our energy level decreases, and we destroy our autonomy. To be able to distinguish between our own emotions and implanted emotions we need to be aware of who we are, what we desire and where we want to go. This foreign emotion is triggered by a person who has an opinion, wish or emotion about us (Mulej, 2008). If we are very sensible we can feel those emotions in us. Very often people attract other people’s anger, fear, distrust and are not aware of it. That is why strengthening our inner power is so important. It increases sense of security and freedom. It is also important to be aware that negative emotions cause imbalance in our body which causes certain diseases.
Being happy does not mean that we do not experience sadness, it means that we accept every emotion and face it with awareness, energy and love. The Happiness Model provides suggestions to deal with sadness, such as feeling gratitude, expressing positivity and practicing mindfulness. Sadness, lack of love, stress can cause heart issues and affirmations about joy are helpful.
According to Transaction Analysis there are three states of self which influence the way we treat ourselves and communicate with others: The parent: our emotions, thinking patterns, behavior were transferred (learnt) from our parents or other care takers. The child: our emotions, thinking patterns, behavior which remained from our previous stages of our life. The adult: our emotions, thinking patterns, behavior in the presence, in the state of being mindful. It often happens that fear is experienced when we behave as a child. So exercises for inner child can be helpful.
Fear can be a form of non-acceptance and resistance to what is (Tolle, 2004). Negative emotions such as fear, anger can be triggered if we dwell too much in the past, ruminate about past hurts, what creates negativity in our body. The cure is being in the present moment. Fear has many causes, fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, fear of public speaking, these are all fears of the ego, the mind controlled state that people like to identify with. So anyone who is identified with their mind and, therefore, disconnected from their true power, will have fear as their constant companion (Tolle, 2004).
There are five stages to deal with anger. Stage 1: Ask yourself - What am I responding to? Is this what I am really angry about? Is this the way I want to feel? What can I do to feel better? Stage 2: Relaxation, visualization, affirmations, games. Stage 3: With your changed consciousness, ask yourself - What’s another way of looking at that? Stage 4: Increased awareness, development of coping skills. Stage 5: Spirituality, love, joy – reconnection with your true self. This process can be applied to dissolve fear too. If anger is a consequence of past experiences, it is suggested to practice forgiveness.
It is true that some people have defects which cannot be changed. They can learn to see these defects as challenges. Most of the time, physical and in particular mental health is influenced by our thoughts and emotions. When there is imbalance in emotional centers in our bodies it is wise to join medicinal, holistic and emotional health into one package and open it when needed (Schulz and Hay, 2013). Loving yourself to great health (Hay, 2014) means learning to listen to our body and embrace our inner power to heal.
2.4.5 Happiness techniques
The significance of happiness techniques is in their effectiveness. They enable us to connect with the source of happiness inside of us. The techniques can help us overcome loss, start a better life, express creativity, start enjoying life even more, be receptive without judgment. Among others, happiness techniques are: meditation, mindfulness, affirmation, yoga, and creative activities, such as tai chi qi gong, dances, singing, writing, where the sacred is felt.
Besides forgiveness, nourishing relations, enjoying life and being unattached to our goals, doing happiness techniques can develop and evolve and strengthen this feeling, or connect us to the source of happiness which is always inside of us. Mental and emotional hygiene means facing one’s own faults and shortcomings, strengthening the connection with one’s inner being, developing one’s virtues and strengths and improving the quality of life.
Relaxation techniques are an important factor in maintaining our mental health, since we are aware that the main issue in almost all mental health deviations is inner psychological tension, and anxiety. Each person can choose the activity that best suits him or her, considering their life style, their daily responsibilities: meditation, yoga, visualizations, mindfulness, affirmations, artistic techniques such as dancing, painting, writing etc.
Numerous researches have shown that mindfulness has positive impact on our feelings, healing of depression, stress and anxiety and improvement in interpersonal relations and quality of life. Langer (1989; in Černetič, 2011) perceives mindfulness as a creative cognitive process which is characterized by three qualities: creation of new categories, openness to new information and awareness of more than one perspectives. It is a mental state of openness and readiness. Mindfulness enables us to deal with unexpected situations in our life and environment. Mindfulness teaches us that everything changes and that we do not need to fear the change.
Being aware of the present moment means accepting oneself and the present situation as it is without judgments and with no wish to ignore it. We experience our present with acceptance and curiosity (Černetič, 2011). We do not respond automatically but we choose how to react. Mindful search for optimal experiences trigger joy and fulfillment. Optimal experiences are achieved by innovations, the flow and the sacred.
Among resources of life meaning are interpersonal relationships, beliefs, health, personal growth. Interpersonal relationships are the most often mentioned resource of life meaning and happiness (Br-Tur, Savaya, and Prager, 2001; Emmons, 2003; in Lopez and Snyder, 2011). Relationships which contribute to happiness are those that are founded on love, compassion, unconditional acceptance and respect. Those relationships which are founded on addiction, ie based on pain and not love, will not make us happy. And we cannot transform or change somebody else. Through the Happiness Model we can create space for change we long for and allow joy to emerge. Enlightenment happens to those who are open to all beings.
2.5.1. Wider value
Vital engagement includes the state of flow, enthusiasm and subjective meaning of an activity performed by a person. In interaction with other people, of course, it is essential that the activity has meaning for a wider population. In this way subjective value is joined by wider value and thus wider benefit is perceived. Wider value depends on a culture, that is, what is acceptable by the society. If an activity has a great meaning for an individual but does not seem important for the society, a person cannot feel happiness to great extent. However, wider value is perceived also in smaller circles.
Participating in development projects in communities and societies, sharing ideas and resources increases happiness. It has been suggested that people who participate in charitable events and development projects are happier if they perform these tasks out of love and not out of necessity or force. However, wider value can mean contributing to one person too. If I decide to help my friend in need, and he/she sees favorable results in this, this is contribution too and thus perceived as wider value as well. And generativity can be practiced in a family too, for instance parenting – educating and bringing up children is a service and contribution and thus increases wider value.
2.6 The Happiness Assessment Instrument in coaching
To be able to apply the theory of the Happiness Model into coaching practices, the Happiness Assessment Instrument has been created. It is a visual presentation of components and subcomponents which affect happiness, and a coachee’s evaluations of these items (Chart 1, p 21).
The structure of a coaching procedure where a coach can apply this Instrument is: Session 1 – discussion between a coach and his/her coachee; coachee’s completion of a questionnaire; Session 2 – further discussion to clarify the answers in the questionnaire; Session 3 – presenting the coachee’s Happiness Assessment Instrument and agreeing on the coaching treatment program; Sessions 4 and on – implementing the coaching treatment program.
This chapter describes the method that was applied in order to create an assessment instrument with the help of the Happiness Model. To create the Happiness Assessment Instrument it is essential for respondents to answer the questions in the assessment questionnaire. The questionnaire is presented in Annex 1 (p 24) of this paper and the idea for it was triggered when studying through The Pursuit for Happiness web (2014).
The questionnaire consists of (at least) 31 questions which refer to people’s life areas, i.e. components and subcomponents of the Happiness Model. The questions from 28 to 31 are used to provide a more accurate evaluation of a coachee’s life situation and additional questions can be added. The questions which serve for the assessment in the Happiness Assessment Instrument presented in this paper are 1 – 27. Due to a high number of questions, a visual presentation of results is needed. For this purpose the instrument, the Happiness Assessment Instrument (Chart 1, p 21), has been created.
The results, i.e. respondents’ answers, enable the insight into the following areas of a person’s life: sense of life meaning, success, vital engagement, positive emotions, expressing happiness qualities, health, interpersonal relationships, negative emotions, and a person’s subjective evaluation of his/her feeling of happiness. Answers to additional questions may reveal whether a respondent suffers from any symptoms or diseases, what in his/her opinion would make them happier, happiness techniques which he/she does to improve his/her life quality, and their manner of thinking.
The word order of questions in the questionnaire is different from the word order of answers presented in the Instrument. This provides us with a more reliable insight into people’s present life situation. The Instrument consists of evaluations (on a scale from 0 – 10), happiness components and subcomponents and related question numbers as they appear in the questionnaire. Table 1 presents the same questions, only here they are arranged into thematic clusters.
The thematic clusters of questions presenting life areas, encompass three items each, with the exception of happiness qualities which encompass five items. Subjective feeling of happiness is specific for every individual and it shows how, to what extent and if at all, it is influenced by other components of the Model. The number of the Happiness Model components and their subcomponents (items) was not determined prior to the research. It has been derived from the conclusions arrived at while studying and researching.
Table 3: Components and subcomponents of the Happiness Model with questions
4. Application of the Happiness Assessment Instrument
The Happiness Model can have positive impacts on our health, stress management, interpersonal relationships, setting and accomplishment of our goals, performing in the flow, experiencing enthusiasm, expressing happiness qualities, being aware of our personal mission and purpose, being aware of our emotional body centers and the importance of balance in our lives. The Happiness Assessment Instrument which encompasses components of life meaning, success, vital engagement, awareness and relationships, can effectively be used in coaching business as it describes in depth the areas of human life which are connected to the intensity and power of happiness and thus contribute to a sense of meaning in life.
Life meaning emphasizes life purpose, preciousness of life and a coachee’s feeling that his/her life is heading in the right direction.
Success emphasizes a coachee’s goals, how he/she progresses towards the goals, his/her achievements and responsibilities, whether their goal systems are coherent and harmonious.
Vital engagement emphasizes the flow, enthusiasm and focus, intrinsic motivation and self-actualization.
Awareness encompasses positive emotions (positivity, joy, love); happiness qualities (gratitude, serving others, forgiveness, trust, risk taking); health (mental and physical health), mind-body connection; and negative emotions (sadness, anxiety, anger).
Relationships are evaluated with how often a coachee receives help when he/she needs it, how often he/she feels lonely, and with satisfaction with their relationships.
All the components are compared to a coachee’s subjective feeling of happiness.
4.1 Sample of a coachee’s Happiness Assessment Instrument
For better understanding of the possibility of application of the Happiness Model in coaching practices let us take a look at the following example of the Happiness Assessment Instrument. We always have to have in mind that the higher the value, the better, except for the questions 12, 20, 7 and 14, where it is important that the values are low.
Assessing the coachee’s answers in Sample 1 (Chart 1) we can see that problematic areas are those that relate to questions 3, 5, 6, 12, 14. The value given by the client to his/her feeling of happiness is 7 on the scale from 0 to 10 where 0 means not at all happy and 10 means extremely happy. For questions see Table 2, p 18.
The problematic areas where improvements and transformations are recommended refer to the state of flow, experience of joy, experience of feeling anxiety, loneliness, anger and sadness. It is not my intention to provide treatments in this article: however, it can be concluded from the Assessment Instrument that the person is very successful, probably sociable and healthy, but feels (or his/her inner child feels) sad and unhappy. The session that follows the analysis of the Assessment Instrument can provide more information, insights and deeper understanding of the client’s situation.
The life area in need of transformation for this coachee is awareness, in particular negative emotions. The value for joy (question 5 in positive emotions) is expectedly lower due to feelings of sadness, anxiety and anger (questions 20, 7, 14 in negative emotions) and loneliness (question 12 in relationships).
Chart 1: The Happiness Assessment Instrument – Sample 1
It is also recommended to clarify why the value for the flow (question 3 in vital engagement) is low and discuss the coachee’s abilities and talents, goals, values, virtues and strengths.
The coachee says that he/she does visualizations for relaxation and reconnection. Mindfulness can be recommended here too, as it is a very good method for decreasing sadness and anxiety (questions 20 and 7 in negative emotions).
As for back pain, additional discussion is needed to clarify in what part of the back the pain occurs. The coachee is advised to continue his/her medical treatments. However; when the location and the cause of the pain is established, affirmations can be used as an effective method, as well as body scan (mindfulness) and physical exercises.
4.2 Advantages of the Happiness Assessment Instrument
The qualities of the Happiness Assessment Instrument include its simplicity and effectiveness, visual presentation of a coachee’s life situation, deep and quick insight into what treatment can be applied, and trustworthy support for a coach of what may have already been observed and identified.
In the private life as well as in the world of business The Happiness Model and Instrument can be effective methods for achieving transformation. The Happiness Model treats a person as a creative being. It takes into consideration the whole person (cognitive, physical, spiritual, emotional, behavioral aspects of a person) and their potentials through which they naturally strive towards self-actualization and fulfillment.
Spiritual well-being is a trait of happy people and it increases inner strength, improves health, adds meaning to relationships, and improves performance at work. Therefore it is highly recommended to apply spiritual practices into coaching businesses.
Happiness means connection to something greater than the ego. To achieve this we have to increase our self-awareness and create space for the development of our virtues and strengths, which lead us to synergic accomplishment of our set goals. Love, joy, peace of mind are prerequisites for successful life. When we combine ancient wisdom with modern science, we can find convincing answers about the purpose of our lives.
The Happiness Model and the Happiness Assessment Instrument have been tested and have proved to be effective and trustworthy. However; the number of Model applications is still low and in the future it has to be increased. There is a possibility to test its universality (currently it is being tested by five foreign coaches) and see whether it is universal in its reliability or it is influenced by culture.
Besides, the Happiness Model is being elaborated on and altered in order to be used in the business world – from personal awareness to business awareness. For both Models, personal and business, activities are being created in order to be applied in coaching and educational practices.
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