Wellness Pathway #273 Stay Engaged

As I write this I am attending the Fourth International Positive Psychology Summit in Washington, DC. Growing out of the academic study of what makes people happy and whole,  this Summit provides both research and theories of great relevance to the coaching profession. One conclusion is clear: when it comes to personal well being, it pays to be positively engaged with life.

That may seem obvious, but for many people in our society it just doesn’t happen. For many people, life amounts to a negative disengagement that looks roughly like this: get up, go to work, come home, watch television, sleep. Get up, go to work, come home, watch television, sleep. And so it goes, without much attention to the things that give life its full measure and meaning.

Research demonstrates that such negative disengagement is not only boring, it’s bad for our personal well being. We are meant to be more positively engaged with life, as people often discover in their work with professional coaches. But you don’t have to get professional coaching in order to get going on your own. Here are three simple steps you can take to stay engaged:

1. Pursue Goals. It’s invigorating to set goals and to work a plan. “Seek peace and pursue it,” advises Psalm 34:14. That’s not only good for our world. That’s good for our health and well-being. Make sure your goals are connected to your values; that way they will add a positive sense of meaning and purpose to your life. Then develop implementation plans with specific, incremental, behavioral steps. It’s not enough to want to lose weight. We also need to identify the things we want to change that will result in weight loss. Such goal-directed action is critical to positive psychology.

2. Pay Attention. Goals are invigorating only if we learn to pay attention to what’s going on in the present moment. Otherwise, goals can become overwhelming, aggravating, and / or distracting. Mindfulness represents a positive feedback loop that enables us to both enjoy the journey and to make mid-course corrections on the way to realizing our goals. By paying attention we discover not only how to “keep the best and leave the rest,” we also discover the impenetrable richness of life. As George Santayana once said, “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”

3. Cultivate Gratitude. Goals can especially lead us astray if they detract from our ability to notice and appreciate the blessings of the present moment. Just because the present moment may be a far cry from our desired future state does not mean that it is bereft of goodness, peace, and joy. Taking stock of these blessings, committing acts of kindness, and expressing gratitude to those who assist and support us on the journey are all proven techniques to raise our spirits and our sense of well being.

As coaches, we assist our clients to make these three simple steps a regular part of life. Through conversation and our way of being in the world, we cultivate competence, connection, and contribution. These three are enough to keep us in the game of life.

Coaching Inquiries: Are you positively engaged with life? Do you need to set new goals and make new plans? Are you overwhelmed or distracted? What have you failed to notice? What are the three best things have happened to you in the past 24 hours?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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