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Coaching Lessons

& Thought 

for Health Coaches

As health coaches, people think we work with physiological needs only.  This isn’t true. Physiological changes are important, but sometimes it’s the other needs being filled that clear the way for the physiological changes to happen.  Happiness is one of the essential elements of health.

     Strategy #1 Cultivate Health

Happiness is essential for full health, health is important for happiness.

Cathy’s # 1,2 & 3 for Health
#1  Attend to your health needs.  Know your #’s…that your hormones, blood and vitamin levels are correct and balanced.  Make sure you are taking multivitamins and supplements your #’s indicate.
#2  Eat for your health, not entertainment or comfort.
#3  Get exercise daily.

     Strategy #2 Cultivate Gratitude

Daily gratitude increases happiness.

In his book, Authentic Happiness, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman encourages readers to perform a daily “gratitude exercise.” It involves listing a few things that make them grateful. This shifts people away from bitterness and despair, he says and promotes happiness.

     Strategy #3 Foster Forgiveness

Forgiveness reduces the power of bad events to create bitterness.

Holding a grudge and nursing grievances can affect physical as well as mental health, according to a rapidly growing body of research. One way to curtail these kinds of feelings is to foster forgiveness. This reduces the power of bad events to create bitterness and resentment, say, Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons, happiness researchers who edited The Psychology of Happiness.
In his book, Five Steps to Forgiveness, clinical psychologist Everett Worthington Jr. offers a 5-step process he calls REACH. First, recall the hurt. Then empathize and try to understand the act from the perpetrator’s point of view. Be altruistic by recalling a time in your life when you were forgiven. Commit to putting your forgiveness into words. You can do this either in a letter to the person you forgive or in your journal. Finally, try to hold on to the forgiveness. Don’t dwell on your anger, hurt, and desire for vengeance.
The alternative to forgiveness is mulling over a transgression. This is a form of chronic stress, says Worthington.
“Rumination is the mental health bad boy,” Worthington tells WebMD. “It’s associated with almost everything bad in the mental health field — obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety — probably hives, too.”

     Strategy #4 Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings

Unconcious thoughts and feelings drive behavior.

As Jon Haidt puts it, improve your mental hygiene. In The Happiness Hypothesis, Haidt compares the mind to a man riding an elephant. The elephant represents the powerful thoughts and feelings — mostly unconscious — that drive your behavior. The man, although much weaker, can exert control over the elephant, just as you can exert control over negative thoughts and feelings.

“The key is a commitment to doing the things necessary to retrain the elephant,” Haidt says. “And the evidence suggests there’s a lot you can do. It just takes work.”
For example, you can practice meditation, rhythmic breathing, yoga, or relaxation techniques to quell anxiety and promote serenity. You can learn to recognize and challenge thoughts you have about being inadequate and helpless.
“If you learn techniques for identifying negative thoughts, then it’s easier to challenge them,” Haidt said. “Sometimes just reading David Burns’ book, Feeling Good, can have a positive effect.”
We control our happiness.  The strategies listed help to be happy.  The #1 thing you can do to ensure happiness is to take responsibility for your happiness.

As soon as you change your thoughts, you truly change your world.

     Strategy #5 Remember, Money Can’t Buy Happiness

Unconcious thoughts and feelings drive behavior.

Research shows that once income climbs above the poverty level, more money brings very little extra happiness. Yet, “we keep assuming that because things aren’t bringing us happiness, they’re the wrong things, rather than recognizing that the pursuit itself is futile,” writes Daniel Gilbert in his book, Stumbling on Happiness.

“Regardless of what we achieve in the pursuit of stuff, it’s never going to bring about an enduring state of happiness.”

     Strategy #6 Foster Friendship

Social ties are important to happiness.


There are few better antidotes to unhappiness than close friendships with people who care about you, says David G. Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness. One Australian study found that people over 70 who had the strongest network of friends lived much longer.
“Sadly, our increasingly individualistic society suffers from impoverished social connections, which some psychologists believe is a cause of today’s epidemic levels of depression,” Myers writes. “The social ties that bind also provide support in difficult times.”

     Strategy #7 Engage in Meaningful Activities

TV produces some of the lowest levels of happiness.


People are seldom happier, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, than when they’re in the “flow.” This is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. Yet, he has found that the most common leisure time activity — watching TV — produces some of the lowest levels of happiness.
To get more out of life, we need to put more into it, says Csikszentmihalyi. “Active leisure that helps a person grow does not come easily,” he writes in Finding Flow. “Each of the flow-producing activities requires an initial investment of attention before it begins to be enjoyable.”
So it turns out that happiness can be a matter of choice — not just luck. Some people are lucky enough to possess genes that foster happiness. However, certain thought patterns and interpersonal skills definitely help people become an “epicure of experience,” says David Lykken, whose name, in Norwegian, means “the happiness.” From Web MD….

     Choose to be happy

Determining that happiness is a choice is the first step forward to a lighter life.

We control our happiness.  The strategies listed help to be happy.  The #1 thing you can do to ensure happiness is to take responsibility for your happiness.

As soon as you change your thoughts, you truly change your world.

     Further Resources

Learn more about happiness.

Programs that help:


Art of Aging

A Lighter Life

Others:  12 Months to Great Health, 12 Day Detox, Spiritual Cleanse, 30 Day Challenge, Healthy Holidays


Feelings, Converting Negatives to Positives, by Gloria Wilcox

You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay

The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama

Dr. Gloria Wilcox created this feelings wheel and wrote an incredible book called “Feelings, Converting Negatives to Positives.”  It’s an incredible starting point for coaches and clients to get in touch and understanding their feelings.

Get a copy of the Feelings Wheel by clicking here.

Adapted and Republished from 2/24/12.


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