As Positive Psychology Coaches and Practitioners we get a lot of questions from curious minds about what Positive Psychology is and how it works within coaching. In this blog post, I share my interpretation of both the science of Positive Psychology and my approach to bringing it into the coaching practice.
What is Positive Psychology?
Positive Psychology is the science of happiness and flourishing. It investigates what makes us excel at some tasks and how we can apply that to other areas of our lives, with the goal to bring more happiness, meaning and joy to ourselves, others and the communities we live in. The field has been defined as the science of optimal functioning (Boniwell, 2012), however I personally feel there is enough emphasis on functioning in the world, and not enough emphasis on being. So for me, Positive Psychology is the science of optimal being.
In my practice, I emphasise the practical power Positive Psychology has by providing us an ever-growing toolbox of strategies, reflections and activities that we can do to increase the number of moments of meaning and positive being. What meaning means to you is of course very personal and might be different from other people. And this is where coaching comes in.
What is Positive Psychology Coaching?
As part of your coaching journey you go inwards and seek answers to the question: what does meaning and happiness mean for you?
Often we derive both from moments of connection, of calmness, of contentment. Research has taught us that in these moments, we are at our best, we draw from strengths that we are naturally good at. So the question becomes: what are you naturally good at? What positive things do you bring to the world, even on the challenging days?
To give you some examples, I personally derive meaning from being with others, having deep, connecting and curious conversations about the big questions in life that usually start with why. I always felt most alive when having these long and eye-opening conversations with another person. Often, these other people where strangers that I met on travels or when I was in a curious mindset. Looking back now, I practiced and received coaching in these conversations and it is only fitting that in the meantime, I have made it my profession.
I also derive a sense of deep balance and contentment when I am in touch with nature. This is strongly connected with my garden. Looking after that little patch of land with my hands and my mind is a grounding and meditative activity that clears the mind while stimulating creativity. It always leaves me relaxed and energised at the same time.
These are two examples of meaningful activities that give me all the good feelings. Identifying your meaningful activities is a powerful tool to bring awareness to what feeds your soul, mind and heart. Once you know, you can use it purposefully to create more moments of meaning and happiness in your life and also in your work.
Building confidence with Positive Psychology Coaching
One of the cornerstones of Positive Psychology is the discovery of your strengths. There are a few evidence-based tools out there that help you do just that. A popular choice is the strengths survey from the VIA Institute, which offers a free questionnaire and strengths report. In coaching, we use your strengths to explore how they inform your thinking, your actions and your emotions. Learning about yourself from a place of strength provides an enormous confidence boost and offers a positive entry point to critical self-enquiry and personal growth. It’s the number one tool I work with in my coaching practice and my clients experience steep learning curves in this area.
Here is how my clients describe this impact in their own words:
“Originally I found my signature strengths only applicable in my private life, but I understand now what an important role they play in my professional life, especially as a manager.”
“I have gained a better knowledge of my skills and strengths and how to use them, and with that I have become more self-confident and have a more positive mindset.”
“Learning more about my strengths was a game changer for me. I feel I can notice feelings connected to my strengths now and because I know where they stem from I can have more control over them rather than them controlling me.”
Every one of us has strengths and areas in which we excel. And equally, every one of us sometimes runs into areas of doubt, where confidence could need a boost. Coaching offers you a safe space to explore both areas and to learn how one can inform the other. This knowledge will empower you to embrace your confident and authentic self to shine at work and beyond.
This post was originally published by Claudia Geratz Coaching.