On a recent visit to Lei Ting – our local Chinese restaurant – my fortune cookie was full of philosophy, rather than predicting my future. Inside my little cookie was a slip that read – “happiness is a direction, not a destination.”
On the surface that seems to be just a cute little throw-way line, sort of like the line form the movie that said “love is never having to say you‘re sorry.” Both lines actually have a depth to them that bears thoughtful exploring.
When one says that they are not happy, they are heading in the wrong direction, a direction that can lead to anxiety, loneliness and depression. That, too, is a direction and not a destination. You really don’t want to get to the way stations in that direction. There may also be stops at frustration, anger, remorse and other nasty places in that direction.
So, how does one get turned around and headed in the happiness direction? I have a friend who is a self-proclaimed “Happiness Coach”. He claims that he gets people headed in the happiness direction by sharing his life experiences and learning. I have another friend who is dedicated to “making positive changes in other people’s lives.” She doesn’t call herself a “coach”, but that is what she is doing through her writings and personal sessions with people.
I looked up the word coach and the most fitting definition is “a private teacher who trains someone on a particular topic or skill.” I have always tended to think of sports when I use the term coach, but lately there are any number of things in which people become “coaches”. There are business coaches and life coaches, skills coaches and career coaches, and many others. Most coaches are self-proclaimed, since, unlike therapists or degreed and certified medical specialists, there is no formal training or certification for most of the people who call themselves coaches.
I suppose that it really doesn’t matter that much, so long as the “coach” isn’t dispensing medicines or trying to play the role of a psychologist or psychiatrist. Using a coach is like having a good talk with your mom or dad when you were a kid; only now you’re grown up and maybe you don’t really want to share your problems with mom or dad. Your coach takes on the role of parent or good buddy, but without the embarrassment factor. That allows them to talk straight to you about things that you may need to change, things that you are doing wrong that are screwing up your life and have you headed in the wrong direction.
Can a coach “make you happy”? No. But, maybe he/she can get your thinking turned around and headed in a new direction, in the direction of happiness. The stops along the way in that direction are much better – peace, clam, and contentment. You’ll be headed towards a much better place.
If the stops along the happiness trail sound like something that you’ve heard before, maybe it was in church. The direction dictated by a religious faith also promises to take one to peace, calm and contentment. You could seek out and consult your pastor or priest for more on that. I’m sure that they would like to be your coach for that journey.
So, stop and take a look at where you are currently headed. If you feel that you are headed in the wrong direction – the direction of unhappiness – send me an email and I’ll forward it to one of my coach friends or maybe you can find a happiness coach in your area. Don’t continue down the path of unhappiness. You really don’t want to go there.