HAPPINESS is the purpose of life and the goal each individual, couple and family is seeking.
Happiness is most likely to be achieved when we are able to create, what a colleague once described, as a “bastion of prosperity” in our lives. A bastion is a fortress, a stronghold, a citadel…a protected place in which we dwell and live out our lives, learning and progressing as we go. Prosperity is a state of being that is measured not only by the external quality of our lives but also the internal quality of our lives. Constructing this place requires knowledge, certain skills and a clear plan if we are going to reach that goal of happiness and prosperity.
My goal as a certified family life educator and life coach is to create an environment where individuals, couples and families can create happiness and prosperity in their lives. This involves plotting a course in life that will lead to those goals as well as identifying and addressing the potential obstacles and challenges that may be lying in the path.
I approach this process from what is referred to as a biopsychosocial-spiritual perspective. These four quadrants of our lives (bio-psycho-social and spiritual) are constantly interacting with each other. Problems in one area of our lives tend to affect and infect the other areas of our lives, so solving those problems often involves effort in all these areas of our lives. The term “synergy” refers to the interconnectedness among these various aspects of our lives. Happiness and prosperity are the results of a life that maintains harmony and balance among these domains
The biological component of one’s life refers to whether one’s lifestyle reflects a healthy, balanced approach to living. It includes many of the everyday aspects of our lives such as diet, exercise, sleep, medications (if appropriate), how we handle our finances, career choices and similar issues. Often the solutions to significant problems in life begin with simple changes in the more commonplace and mundane aspects of our lives. Self-care is an important component of our lives that is easily overlooked at times. Dr Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People refers to this as sharpening the saw.
The psychological component of our lives refers to addressing how we think, feel and act. Negative, pessimistic, or critical thinking can begin early in our lives as a result of experiences inside and outside of our homes. Recognizing and correcting stinking thinking invites us to choose more productive ways to view ourselves and the world around us.
Emotions are a powerful part of the human experience. How we deal with them constitutes a major contributing factor in determining whether we succeed or fail in our efforts to achieve happiness and prosperity. Traumatic experiences in life can leave emotional scars that can interfere with our efforts to achieve these goals. Addressing past emotional injuries and resolving them helps clear the path that leads toward happiness and prosperity. The ability to understand and regulate our emotions is essential to achieving and maintaining a balanced and productive life throughout the lifespan.
Behaviors—especially habit-forming or compulsive ones— can take us far off the path toward happiness and prosperity and need to be replaced with behaviors that produce a sense of accomplishment, self-discipline and peace.
Human beings are designed for relationships. We do not do well in isolation. Research on what really tends to make people happy indicates that for over 90% of us, it’s the quality of our relationships that most determines the level of happiness we experience in life. As Barbara Streisand once sang, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world”. They are also the happiest and most successful. An important part of my practice is helping people to learn how to resolve conflict, increase intimacy and trust in their relationships at home and at work, and to raise happier and more successful children.
Regardless of whether or not we have ever stepped inside a church or read inspired writings, we all have a value system of some kind. It is shaped by everything we are taught and by every experience we have in life and determines the outcomes of our daily decision-making. Whether spirituality means participating in a religious practice or simply taking a walk in Nature and watching the sun set, neglecting this aspect of our lives depletes our resiliency and reduces our ability to bounce back from life’s difficulties and challenges. We have to determine whether our lives are lived in harmony with the principles and values that produce genuine happiness and prosperity.
Life is a Test
Learning and growing requires testing—evaluating where we are on the path of progression toward happiness and prosperity. Like all tests, the daily experiences of life reveal our strengths and our weaknesses; what we know and what we don’t know. They bring out the best and the worst in us. When we recognize the worst, we understand where we need to improve and change. When we recognize the best, we understand what we can continue to build upon. Tests are essential to allow us to correctly chart our course toward continuing growth and happiness, or toward regression, decay and unhappiness. Tests can take many forms, some pleasant, some very unpleasant. All have something to offer. Coaching is intended to help us understand the roles that both can play in our lives and in our progression toward happiness and prosperity.