Are you happy? It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer for every person. While most of us seek to be happy, what defines individual happiness may differ for each person and may depend in some ways on where we are in our lives. Someone can be happy after landing a new job or the birth of a baby, but can one achieve true and lasting happiness? I caught up with certified life coach and fellow (Syracuse University) alum, Russ Terry and asked him if it’s possible to be truly happy.
ECC: Can you briefly describe what a life coach does for those unfamiliar with the profession?
RT: A Life Coach helps people get from functional to optimal or ordinary to extraordinary. We build confidence, break down fears, ask empowering and open-ended questions and work with people to come up with a plan for what they want to accomplish – and when. That last part is just as important as the ‘what’.
ECC: As you know “happiness” can be defined in so many different ways and is up to each person to define it for his/herself. What is your personal (or professional) definition of happiness and do you believe it is possible to achieve?
RT: Happiness is not only possible but dare I say guaranteed. If you decide to be happy, you will be. Life may not always go as we plan it or would like it to, but we can choose how we respond to it. In other words, we can dwell on the bad things that do happen or the good things that don’t, or we can instead just enjoy all the great things that do happen. That’s what I do. I’m grateful for all that’s wonderful in my life. So much so that I’m writing a book called “My Gratitude Journal: 365 days of the people & things I’m grateful for and the lessons you can learn from them”. It will be out in early 2014.
ECC: Do you believe you can achieve happiness if you don’t follow your dreams?
RT: That’s a good question. Certainly following your dreams makes one much more likely to be happy. However, for some people, stability is one of their core values. They are the most happy when they’re safe, financially secure, etc. For them, the risk of going for their dreams could very well be so stressful that it would cause them to be unhappy.
That said, I think most of us will achieve the most happiness by following our dreams. One of the coolest parts about doing that is we can achieve higher levels of happiness and joy than we ever thought possible. I’ve experienced this and it’s incredibly amazing. I never imagined this life for myself and now I’m living it and loving it.
ECC: What have you seen among your own clientele in terms of clients seeking help in leading happier lives? Have you seen any trends? And if so, in what area are they most seeking fulfillment in?
RT: The two biggest trends I see these days are that people want more balance in their life, and they want a job they’re passionate about. (Career is definitely the #1 area people are seeking fulfillment in.) Because life coaching is a growing profession, more and more people are becoming exposed to the fact that great things really are possible for them.
ECC: I know one population you focus specifically on is Millennial Men, those in their 20s and early 30s. Do you find that they are generally happier or less happy than older clients? What about Millennial women?
RT: I do think younger men in general are more happy than prior generations. Middle aged men are less able to make changes in their life because they have a wife, kids, more responsibilities, etc. This doesn’t mean they can’t but it’s just more complicated; there are other people involved.
One of my niches as a Life Coach is women who finally want to put themselves first. I’ve worked with many ladies of all ages and it’s common across the board for them to have been in service and done for others (job, boss, husband, kids, aging parent) before themselves. Most women I work with are ready to change this – regardless of their age.
ECC: What advice would you give a new client who is unhappy with one particular aspect of their life?
RT: Talk to a Life Coach! Most (including me) will give you a free session. In that time, chances are you’ll see the benefits of it and want to move forward as a client.
ECC: Thank you for your time and I look forward to reading your new book when it arrives!