Make a new resolution: be happier

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New year’s resolutions tend to take care of our physical side: I’m going to eat better and do more exercise. But how about taking care of our emotional wellbeing - I’m going to make myself happier?

A life coach is offering people the chance to increase their happiness with her six-month Happiness Workshop.

Caroline Clark believes being happy underlies all areas of life, including health and fitness.

She said: “Happiness is important as our minds and bodies are linked. Happy people get ill less often, and happy people can be more creative, and offer more to society.

“The more happy we are, the kinder and more social we are.”

She added: “There is excessive information and discussion about health and fitness, and diet yet we don’t engage with the emotional side, about looking at what people want from life.

“If you ask people, it’s usually health, wealth and happiness. The first two are discussed constantly, but how to achieve happiness less so.”

Looking at one’s own happiness in a group setting may seem daunting, but Caroline believes examining our lives, and identifying areas which could be “tweaked” is easier with other people’s encouragement.

She said: “Most people attending use it to make small adjustments to their lives, rather than massive shifts and it is also easier to stick to your resolutions if you know in four weeks you are going to come back and talk about them.

“If you make a commitment by yourself who’s going to check you carry it out? The group is not going to judge you - we make an agreement at the beginning to be non-judgemental, non-critical - but they will be supportive and maintain confidentiality.”

Caroline set about becoming a life coach after realising her previous career in the travel industry was no longer fulfilling.

She joined the Voluntary Services Overseas and worked in India where she joined a self development course. This sparked the change into life coaching, which led to specialising in happiness.

So, where does she start helping people on the path to greater happiness?

The first session begins with explaining Caroline’s Wheel of Happiness - where you can identify what parts of your life could be adjusted to bring a greater sense of wellbeing.

This could be anything, including the obvious: work, relationships, fitness, and less obvious such as creativity, adventure and spirituality.

It also introduces a book called The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, who writes about her experiments to improve her happiness levels.

The following sessions will introduce various concepts and exercises which focus on topics such as appreciation and gratitude, kindness, optimism and resilience.

Between meetings you have four weeks to apply your findings to your life and report back on your progress.

Caroline said: “While we are all born with a certain set level of happiness, a baseline which is not really affected by life events, there are many ways to improve that by the things we do, say and think.

“It is these things the course can help with, as these are the things we have complete control over.

“It’s not going to tell you what to do, but suggest ways to discover what will work for you and to support you in implementing those changes.

The Happiness Workshop is held at Maximo Learning, Harpur Street, Bedford, and costs £125 for six months.

The next Tuesday evening course starts on January 20, and runs from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. A Sunday course from 4pm to 6pm starts on January 18.

Caroline is also planning to run some workshops on Thursdays.

For more information, go to www.happinessmatters.co.uk