Yesterday I assisted to the conference of my friend and coleague José Manuel Sanchéz. A sentence draw my attention: «we don’t meditate to meditate, but to bring the presence to our everyday life» It reminded me a similar sentence by Aristotle: «we do not pursue the democracy for the democracy, but for the happiness».
Probably, there no real reason to explain that object of this article. This longing is innate, inherit to human nature.
What I am looking for is a tool kit to facilitate the coachee to obtain it and for to make the coach to stay in this perspective.
Personally I share the eudaemonist vision marking the interpretation of human life since the origins, both in Western and East philosophy. Before Aristotle, Buddhism identified his reasons into removing the causes of unhappiness. «We are all longing for happiness» says Daisuke Ikea.
Why then not to adopt this objective to the coaching process: that the individual is in contact and consistent to her/his own desire of happiness… and then transcend it?
Transcendence restores humor.
However, the value of happiness is not that obvious.
Our culture, and in particular the interpretation of christianity, resulted in the belief that happiness is bad. A lesson that is coming from the division between body and soul, leading to the extreme consequences in the “cogito ergo sum”, making the suffering the path to transcendence.
The idea of paradise, hell and purgatory, sinners and their carnality in decomposition are compensated by the intelectual contemplative price gave to the blessed ones. A contemplation in ec-stasis, static then, as the core essence of happiness was on the other side of vital dynamism, incompatible with life.
Another complication come from the confusion between happiness and joy. This misunderstanding is so deeply integrated then even the dictionary defines happiness as satisfaction or luck and ecstasy as the happiness of soul.
Where to find a way out? I love to come back to the basics. Body is the source the pleasures, indeed. This should be our blueprint to understand happiness. Happiness in not an emotion. I share the idea that emotions are only the negative ones, since their objetive is to e-move you from a state of malaise to one of well being. The so called positive emotions are message of reassurance that the change has been effectively concluded. Joy is the state of mind arising after you overtook the danger who activated rage – fear or the time to recoup from a loss who developed sadness.
We do not confuse pleasure with the good feelings after the release of the tension. Pleasure, trascended to the ecstasy, in the body (!), is not mere satisfaction, but realization of body inherent nature, that is to say its sense. In a similar way, happiness is the tendency of being, beyond yet with and in the body. It is the sense of having become”what you really are” in accordance to your values, that are the leads to a meaningful life. Nietzsche clearly identified this as the great goal, but thought it was out of the human reach since, every time we are getting there, conditions change. I can share this beliefs.
That is why I understand why many colleagues adopt, as the objective of the coaching process, meta-competences allowing the individual to overcome whatever change.
They work on the Presence, o meditative aptitude, who make the coachee in contact to their authentic needs. It means to develop the heroic (á la Joseph Campbell) ability to stay in contact to your own dark side.
Then there is Awareness, this inner witness who look to the needs of the dark side from the distance. A high level of awareness it the necessary condition to go further until the comprehension who transcends the emotional nature of ego and acknowledges that being is an expression of the All, deeply understanding that this is the “what you really are”.
I proposte a different perspective in coaching, starting from solving the two main misunderstanding: that happiness is heavenly ecstasy or emotional joy. Both beliefs result in a loss of vitality.
Why should I pursue the values of life, when wellbeing is no here now, but after my death? If I stay in life is only to gain an acceptable eternity, doing well in spite of I really want. In the best case, I believe I am happy, through a profound unconscious introjection of the good values. Let me clarify that I do believe religious values are good, but what it is required if that they are chosen not imposed; personally I am inspired from the great mystics life Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Avila, who never hide their “dark nights” in which they doubted.
Then, happiness as joy, is a confusion leading to a profound pessimism. Joy not only is fleeting (and to undestrand generates sadness), but also depends on eternal factors (and this generates fear of the always changing context or take to situations or people who separate me from joy). Moreover, the person who suffer and cannot see that happiness is not incompatible with suffering, develop an inner hate to life. The belief could be translated in «Could I die instead of suffer, but life compels me to stay». This is an idea that a misinterpreted systemic approach can encourage: if you see your existence as something at Life’s (capital L) service, that it to say you are a piece to make your family, nation, …until human races go on attaining their objetives, how easy to consider the same existence to slavery!
“Sad people have two reasons to be so”
For this reason, I propose to start the coaching process by developing the attraction to life through a profound comprehension that happiness is the path to the realization.
It means working on the “I will”, “l deserve” and then “I can”, but what? To be happy. It means develop presence and awareness, yet starting from vitality. From this place, in a intense longing for living, the individual can transcend. Authorizing her/himself to be happy, and pursuing happiness form her/his individual perspective, the coachee will necessarily getting to the discovery that “to be happy is to be happy together” – as Nischiren said – integrating the “I am me, you are you” of Perls into the “I am you, you are me” of Thich Nath Hahn. This is the way to transform even your worst and most horrible obsession hidden behind your dark side in the main path to a meaningful Life. They tell of therapist inventing techniques similar to the way the have been tortured, anorexic girls giving food to needy people, bullies teaching emotional intelligence… and when this happens, Soul actually rejoice.
“I committed the worst of the sins
a man could commit.
I was not happy”
Jorge Luis Borges