by Leslie Austin, Ph.D.

As 2016 draws to a close, it seems we are experiencing a particularly turbulent time, both nationally (following the presidential election) and internationally, with unrest, drought and hunger, great fear and violence in many parts of the world.

What can we, as coaches, do to help our clients achieve and maintain any sense of equanimity or a positive outlook at all? Considering the chaotic, unpredictable, dark emotions our media outlets seem to constantly reflect and blast at us in an endless quest for more readers or ratings, it might seem as if there isn’t anything much that any one coach can do to make a difference for our clients.

But in reality, there is a lot we can do to contribute to helping our clients (and loved ones) to take charge of their emotions and to create much happier, more peaceful experiences for themselves. Even if we only end up helping just one other person (or even just ourselves!), we are still contributing to changing the energy in our environment. One person focusing on and resolutely holding to a positive outlook can absolutely influence others around them to do the same.

In a discussion called Inner Truth (Hexagram 61), the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text, talks about the power to influence others’ unconscious minds by the force of one’s own personality even when they seem unreachable. By holding to a positive focus and outlook a coach can gently “invite” a client or loved one to join them in the more positive energy, rather than the coach engaging in or even taking on the more negative energy. Even one person releasing a negative energy and moving into a more positive one helps to create better changes in our environment.

Here are some simple suggestions for how to help yourself and your clients change their focus from a negative one to a more positive one: 1

  1. First, ask your client what positive emotion they would like to be feeling in the very next moment. Ask them to consciously decide to breathe that emotion in as they breathe naturally, gently, and to breathe out anything that is not that good feeling as they exhale. Have them continue to breathe in the positive feelings and breathe out the negative ones as they breathe gently and normally, until they can feel their body and emotions have shifted into the chosen good feeling.
  2. Ask your client to find one thing– anything– in the present moment, which is positive or good. It might be as simple as they enjoyed their lunch, or even that there’s no active problem in that specific moment. Anything will do as long as it’s a good thing, big or small. Ask them to focus on it and breathe in and out gently several times while appreciating that one good thing in their lives for those few moments. Can they feel their body and mood shift and relax?
  3. Ask your client to stop, slow down, and check to see if there is a specific thing that is actively upsetting them in that specific moment, or are they spinning and feeling down and overwhelmed about things that have already happened or things that might happen in the future? The power to change our lives lies in the present moment only. If there is not a specific action step they need to take that minute, then in that present moment they can decode to feel happier, better emotions just because they choose to!
  4. Ask your clients what are some positive ways in which they would like to be a good influence on the people around them. What kinds of things can they do or say to convey these good intentions to others? How would it make them feel to know they are a happy, good influence around others? Invite them to experiment with being a “Secret Santa” with gifts of good feelings and cheer! As William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” I invite you to consider practicing these happiness tips for yourself and with your clients. You might be surprised to find you and your clients will not only feel better, but the world may even start to seem just a bit kinder and nicer as a result.

Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year to all!