Happiness coaching

Written by Katherine Nicholls
Katherine Nicholls
Life Coach Directory Content Team

Last updated 13th September 2023 | Next update due 12th September 2026

Being happy is something many of us aim for, but sometimes truly knowing what makes us happy is difficult. This is where happiness coaching can support, helping you understand what happiness means to you and what changes you can make to feel more content, day to day.

Are you happy?

This should be a simple question, with a simple answer. But for many of us, the answer is complicated. Knowing what happiness really is can be the first stumbling block. Often, we correlate happiness with joy and, while joy is a part of happiness, it doesn’t tell the full story.

Joy can be a fleeting feeling. Something we experience in the moment, whether we’re celebrating our child’s birthday party, watching a stunning sunset or toasting to a promotion at work. Long-lasting happiness is steady. It’s an ongoing sense of contentment that arises when we feel fulfilled, are working with our strengths, and are living in alignment with our values.

In this video happiness coach Gordon McCrorie explores what happiness truly is and how a coach can support you.

Some describe happiness as the absence of stress and anxiety. Now, of course, all of us will experience low points in our lives where we have to navigate difficult emotions, this is part of the human experience. Being ‘happy’ doesn’t necessarily mean everything is great, 100% of the time. Instead, we can view happiness as something we feel, underneath everything else. We may be dealing with a particularly stressful period but, if we are happy at our core, we may feel better able to cope as we know this negative feeling is temporary. 

Right now, many of us are feeling a pull to ask ourselves this question, ‘are we happy?’. World events have encouraged us to step back, gain some perspective and prioritise our own happiness. This is all brilliant, and lots of us are taking steps towards our own versions of happiness, but what happens if you struggle with this or don’t know how to be happy?

You have options here. You could venture down the self-help route, exploring books, courses and podcasts to increase self-awareness and identify what happiness means to you. Or you could consider working with a professional, like a happiness coach.

Coaches who offer happiness coaching

What is happiness coaching?

The ultimate aim of happiness coaching is to help you identify what makes you happy and support you in your journey. We are all brilliantly unique, which means different things make us happy. Through structured conversations and exercises, happiness coaching helps you delve into your strengths and values. Knowing these can help you understand how you can lean into your strengths and what changes you may need to make to live more in alignment with your values. This could mean taking up a hobby or passion project, reviewing your relationships or even changing careers.

Happiness coaching can also help you identify a purpose, something that can act as a guiding light for contentment. You can learn more about practices and mindset shifts to feel happier day to day, including gratitude, self-reflection and mindfulness.

Some people say being happy is a choice. To some degree, this is correct. We have more control over our thinking than we realise, but there are circumstances out of our control that we must recognise. Happiness coaching, therefore, isn’t about toxic positivity, it’s about accepting what we cannot change, and taking control of what we can to cultivate a healthier mindset. This may mean overcoming limiting beliefs, improving our self-esteem and empowering ourselves to go for what we truly want in life.

What is positive psychology?

Psychology tends to focus on negative aspects of mental health, such as mood disorders and what we can do when things aren’t going to plan. The aim of positive psychology is to understand what makes us thrive – what happens when things go right? 

Many happiness coaches will utilise positive psychology in their coaching practice, utilising the evidence-based tools uncovered in this field to help build resilience and improve happiness.

What does a happiness coach do?

While all coaches have different approaches, many happiness coaches will work with you over a number of weeks to help you feel happier. At the start, you may discuss your life as it is right now, perhaps talking through what may be missing and what you hope to achieve through your work together. 

Unhappiness can stem from our needs not being met, so you may do some initial work on understanding your needs and identifying what isn’t being met. Your happiness coach may encourage you to identify your strengths and values as these lend themselves well to this type of work. This may be done through questioning techniques, journaling exercises or even personality profiling.

Together you can then move on to finding ways to get your needs met, utilising your strengths in your life and considering how you can live your values. Your coach will not tell you what to do, instead, they will use questioning techniques to help you uncover your own answers. Happiness is a truly personal thing, so it’s imperative that you find your own answers here. You can consider your coach as a guide of sorts, asking the right questions that will help you reflect, gain perspective and tap into your truth. 

Understanding what you need to feel happier is one thing, putting it into practice and implementing this understanding into your everyday life is another. This is something a happiness coach can support with. They may encourage you to set up an action plan, complete with manageable goals for you to work towards.

As cliche as it sounds, happiness truly isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. There likely won’t be a point where you can say “I’m happy now!” and tick it off the to-do list. It’s an ongoing process, but this is where happiness coaching can be so valuable. Instead of pointing you towards quick fixes and shortcuts to joy, your coach will help you find long-term sustainable happiness, teaching you ways to improve resilience and tried and tested activities to uplift you.

The tools you gain here should last a lifetime, equipping you to handle whatever life throws at you as you remain rooted to your values and strengths, pursuing your purpose and having your needs met. 

Finding happiness in what you’ve got today will enable you to live a happy life. Coaching can be an excellent environment to help you identify what happiness looks like to you, and then to work out steps to help you bring more of it into your daily life.

- Coach and NLP practitioner Nancy Everson

Can a happiness coach help with depression?

If you have been diagnosed with depression, seeking happiness may feel like a daunting task. Often there is work to do to come up to a base level of contentment, before reaching towards a state of happiness. There are various approaches to treating depression, which can be explored first. This may include taking medication and psychological therapies. Speaking to your doctor can help you identify what may be best for you, but know that options are available.

There are coaches who support those with depression, looking ahead to help you manage the condition and set goals. This isn’t the right approach for everyone, but may be worth exploring, particularly if you’ve found other approaches unhelpful. You can learn more about depression coaching on our dedicated page. 

A happiness coach may be able to support you if you have depression, however, it’s worth noting that they may not have the skills necessary to support you in the same way a mental health professional would. This will depend on their background, qualifications and experience. The best course of action is to speak to a happiness coach about your condition to see if they can help, this may depend on the severity of your depression and other approaches you’ve tried/are engaged in. 

Do I need a happiness coach?

If you’re feeling:

  • a little lost right now
  • like you haven’t been truly happy lately
  • as if life is ‘fine’ but you know you want more
  • as if everything is a little flat, or has lost its colour
  • like you don’t know what you really want
  • in need of some accountability and guidance

Then happiness coaching could be right for you. Working with a coach can help you find your bearings, helping you come back to yourself and what you need. It can help you discover what true happiness means to you and how you can reach your full potential. It can offer clarity, helping you understand what it is you want out of life, all while gently guiding you and giving you the sense of accountability you need to keep moving forward. 

Everyone deserves to be happy and while some things are out of our control, there’s more than we realise within our power. Working with a coach can help you tap into that power. Connect with a coach today to start your journey.

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