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Coaching Happiness: An Inside-Out Approach

Happiness research and advice is growing more plentiful by the day. From ideas, tips, and practices to studies, training, and advanced programs, there’s a veritable monster menu of ways to learn more about and work on your happiness.

However, nothing about happiness is one size fits all. Not all approaches to happiness are meant for you. And, of course, if you don’t follow through and “do the work,” it won’t matter anyway.

In 1998, when Martin Seligman, Ph.D., stood in front of the American Psychological Association and laid the foundation for the positive psychology movement to take off, there was another field that had begun formalizing with this same intent just a few years before in the early 1990’s—the field of coaching. In fact, the International Coach Federation began credentialing coaches in 1998 and the formal training program accreditation process began in 1999.

What is Coaching? And What Does It Have to Do With Happiness?

Most coaching methodologies are action-oriented. They focus on identifying goals, creating a series of steps to meet those goals, and then providing accountability to keep the client moving forward. This approach can be extremely effective in the short run but only as long as the client’s enthusiasm and energy are running high.

Unfortunately, their ability to sustain the outcome and repeat the process usually deteriorates over time. How familiar does that sound to the happiness journey? We set our sights on key markers of happiness, reach the marker and experience it for a little while, and then that feeling of satisfaction begins to wane. This cycle becomes a happiness roller coaster of ups and downs.

This usually occurs when the “problem”—meaning that which is contributing to a lack of happiness—isn’t the true issue. Instead, the work that’s been done has largely only treated a symptom of whatever it is that is truly keeping us from higher levels of sustained happiness.

So what’s going on? There are underlying patterns—most often an individual’s beliefs and perceptions—that need to be recognized and addressed. Awareness must be brought to a deeper level for an individual to gain a better understanding of their behavior to then create clear buy-in for the desired change (in thinking, not just behavior), and then shift any hidden thoughts and emotions in a manner that’s aligned to the outcome and experience they’re looking to have.

The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) refers to this manner of coaching as Core Energy Coaching™. This coaching process is a methodology focused on getting to the root (or “core”) of an individual’s challenges by identifying and shifting those inner thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that block a client’s success.

With this approach, iPEC’s research is showing that individuals can reduce stress, sustainably connect with their purpose and passion, and experience more fulfillment and happiness in all areas of life.

This form of transformational coaching is what’s referred to as an inside-out approach—as opposed to the outside-in approaching of primarily applying new actions, practices, and routines to create new habits.

The 3 Fundamental Elements for Expanding Happiness

Taking this approach is also essential to addressing three elements that are critical to expanding your happiness—awareness, ownership, and integration.

Awareness is the bedrock for successful change. Awareness sheds light on the underlying patterns and conditioning that will ultimately guide our perceptions and experience of life as well as our attitude, actions, and behaviors. Without a deeper awareness of ourselves, we tend to backslide into old patterns and tendencies—and thus the happiness roller coaster continues.

Next, there are tremendously beneficial and proven practices and methods for bringing out more happiness in your life; however, you need to own these approaches as your own—which often means taking the time to work through those approaches until they align with who you really are.

Consider the last time someone gave you advice (even meaningful and smart advice, not just an uninvited opinion); to what degree did you follow through and fully run with it? You might have to some degree but most people hardly take any action even if it was good advice. Why is that?

We take action when there is true buy-in. True buy-in stems from within—from our ideas, our insights, our desires—and making the ideas, approaches, and actions our own. Within both the coaching process and expanding your happiness, it’s essential to take any great idea or framework, translate it into your own words and align it with your thoughts, experiences, values, strengths, goals, and preferences. Wrestle around with concepts, try them on for size, and fit the approach and idea to be connected to who you really are and how you bring anything to life.

Last is integration—all efforts will prove unsuccessful and unsustainable if they lack a means of integration. Integration occurs when the newfound awareness, shifts in beliefs, and planned approaches actually become part of who you are and how you live. In the coaching process, it’s essentially how you consciously and intentionally recondition yourself. Integration only truly occurs once you’ve taken action and created new experiences. From those new experiences, we can then consciously and mindfully reflect on what we tried, how it went, what adjustments we may wish to try, and reconcile this back into our awareness—essentially beginning these 3 elements and this cycle of expanding happiness once more.

At the World Happiness Summit in Miami, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with coaches personally and within the Tribe experiences. We hope that you take full advantage of the time you’ll have with these incredible professionals and see just how far you can expand your happiness.


Luke Iorio, PCC, CPC is the President of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)—the coaching partner to WOHASU since its founding—as well as the President and driver behind its offshoot mindful-living community platform, One Idea Away.

One Idea Away and iPEC are hosting two Uncover Retreats in early 2019. Luke and iPEC Founder and master coach, Bruce D Schneider, will be taking retreatants through five pathways leading to expanded consciousness. It’s an immersive and highly experiential event meant to reconnect you to your deeper self, bring about greater inner balance, raise your capacity to impact those you serve as well as those you love, and align you with your sense of purpose, meaning, and freedom. For more information, go to https://www.oneideaaway.com/wohasu-retreat.

iPEC is also a world renowned coach certification and training institute, and you can learn more about their program, offered in more than 20 cities—spanning the US, Canada, and Europe, at www.iPECcoaching.com.

About Luke Iorio, MCC, CPC, ELI-MP, iPEC Board Member

Luke Iorio is a dad, spouse, entrepreneur, conscious growth strategist, coach, blogger, podcaster, wide-angled observer, and enthusiastic participant in the game of life who seeks to ask and answer, “What’s truly possible?” He believes it’s only when we disrupt the status quo of "good enough" that we can finally uncover what we were born to do.

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