“The purpose of our lives is to be happy“ – Dalai Lama
Many of us hold a prevailing sense that we deserve happiness. The trouble is, lots of people don’t know what will make us truly, sustainably happy, or how to go about achieving happiness.
Thankfully, the people of Bedford have Happiness Clubs to focus their minds. Being at a point in my life where I had made a lot of positive changes in my life, and being interested in coaching, I was intrigued to find out what the group could offer – and sort out those parts of my life that were compromising gaining full happiness. I joined a group in April and we are now half way through our six monthly sessions.
Led by local coach Caroline Clark, our Happiness Club offers participants the opportunity to reflect what is important to them and, as the name suggests, what parts of their lives could be changed or enhanced to increase their happiness.
The small group meets in a relaxed, neutral setting, such as a local pub for its positive, participative sessions. Meeting like-minded people offers perspective and new ideas, as well as support and encouragement. Most importantly, from a coaching perspective, the club raises participants’ awareness.
So, how does it work? The methodology follows TGROW coaching principles.
Each participant creates a ‘Happiness Wheel’ detailing the aspects of their life that are important to them. This could include work, money, social life or love and relationships. Giving each aspect a mark out of 10 helps raise awareness about how that aspect feels at the moment (the reality). If the score is low, they will probably think about how to improve it. Each participant follows their own interest and chooses a goal to focus on that is relevant to them.
Goals, of course, need to be realistic so the goal will include small life changes aimed at moving forwards incrementally, point by point until you reach the desired score for that aspect – and feel happier in that area of their life. Caroline gently challenges us to find out what actions we will take to achieve our personal goals, to make sure they are genuine and achievable.
You might think your life’s successes and failures are obvious. However, the epiphany you need to consider what is most important to you can often be gained only by taking a step out of your daily life (or rut). Coaching, whether it is offered face-to-face or in a Happiness Club, can raise invaluable awareness.
Apparently, you are 70 per cent more likely to realise a goal that has been written down. That might be because the goal becomes real and tangible, rather than an unattainable fantasy that remains in your head.
Happiness Club works (for me) not only because my goals are now written down, but because I never want to be the one who goes to the next meeting having to confess I have made no progress towards my goal – so personal accountability is an important factor.
That said, the group is non-judgemental (and has set a contract around that, which also includes other things you would expect from such a group, including confidentiality).
The group also includes discussions about things like developing personal resilience for times when the proverbial hits the fan. We have also been encouraged to perform random acts of kindness that can help sustain your sense of wellbeing. It is all about changing behaviours and building aspects of your personality that will help you be, well, happier.
What is in my Happiness Wheel, I hear you ask? My first goal was to integrate more experiences in to my life. There is a big fat tick next to this goal, with a trip to Warwick Castle already enjoyed and trips to the theatre and the Globe to look forward to. A lack of experiences had been nagging me for ages. Sitting and considering what I could do to rectify this, away from the daily chaos, helped me make a plan – rather than just think about it.
If you want to be happy and you know it – find out about your nearest Happiness Club. If you live in Bedford, you could get in touch with Caroline. If not, you could set up your own group. Whichever course you take, make sure that sense of deserved happiness becomes a reality.