Twitter chat No 14: What can coaches learn from the science of what makes life worth living?
A well-known definition of coaching recognises the aim of the coach as “to work with the client to achieve all of the client’s potential – as defined by the client”[i]. Another definition describes coaching as “a conversation, or series of conversations, that one person has with another” with the intention “to benefit the other person”[ii].
Something clear in those definitions and others is that coaches work for the sake of their clients’ potential and benefit. As coaches, we intend to help our clients through conversation and work so they can facilitate their own answers. Ultimately, we are concerned with clients’ happiness and well-being by supporting them in the re-discovery of how they can help themselves flourish in their lives.
Positive Psychology Coaching is an evidence-based coaching practice for the enhancement of resilience, achievement and well-being (British School of Coaching: Positive Psychology in Organisations).
So what can coaches learn from Positive Psychology or the science of what makes life worth living? In preparation for the upcoming Twitter chat, I watched a TED video by Professor Martin Seligman entitled “The new era of positive psychology”. Positive Psychology is defined for us as follows:
- As concerned with strength and with weakness
- As interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst
- As concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent as with healing pathology
This TED video (embedded below) also includes aspects of the PERMA model, which is characteristic of most Positive Psychology. This model was created by Professor Martin Seligman and identifies five contributing facets to human flourishing:
- Positive Emotions (feeling joy, happiness, etc.)
- Engagement (attachment to and focus on something)
- Relationships (positive connections to others)
- Meaning (feeling valued and connected with something greater than the self)
- Achievement (progressing towards goals, feeling accomplished)
There are many examples of activities based on Positive Psychology (or ‘positive interventions’), which you may have tried already. Some examples shared by Seligman are the following:
- Beautiful day: Use your mindfulness and savouring skills, design a beautiful day and apply those skills.
- Gratitude visit: Close your eyes, remember someone who did something enormously important that changed your life in a good direction and who you never properly thanked, write a 300 word testimonial to that person, call and visit the person, read it with them.
- Strengths date: Couples are asked to identify their higher strengths using a strengths test and then are asked to design an evening in which they both use those strengths.
In this week’s Twitter chat, we would like to explore the theme of Positive Psychology by having a conversation around the following questions:
- What can positive psychology bring to your coaching practice? 12:05
- What activities inspired by Positive Psychology have you used or would like to use in your coaching practice? 12:15
- What are the potential challenges of Positive Psychology in your coaching practice? 12:30
- What Positive Psychology resources can you share with the #CoachingHE community? 12:45
[i] Rogers, 2008
[ii] Starr, 2011