Balance, Integration & Positive Existential Philosophy
Balance has been a major theme in my life. I was lucky enough to have realised fairly early that most of the things that work really well are well balanced. The people, activities, jobs, attitudes, courses or knowledge that I have enjoyed most are all well balanced.
Yet many people I come across have a very narrow focus. This is very useful at times when distractions need to be minimised. People with a clear focus tend to achieve more. But without a wider perspective on things you can feel lost and quickly lose touch with what’s really important in your life.
Everything I do – coaching, conflict resolution and personal development education – is aimed to put the focus on what’s important while maintaining a wider perspective. For some it’s the bigger picture that’s missing, for others the focus on what’s at hand. But it’s always best to keep both in mind.
That is why I have taken positive psychology (a science that focuses on what’s right with people, on happiness, wellbeing and the good life) and embedded it into the framework of existentialism (a philosophy of existence, of being-in-the-world-with-others, and the many challenges and anxieties that come with this human ‘condition’).
Awareness and understanding are the first steps to lasting change. They allow you to build or re-build a strong foundation from which to make difficult decisions. Because people change, what made sense years ago might not work for us anymore. Re-evaluating our worldview, how we make sense of the world and us in it, might be necessary from time to time.
Very often things fall into place from then on and we just know what to do. We might feel it, know it or plan it. If it’s not that easy, coaching tools and techniques, practical exercises, storytelling, a book recommendation or quote or the right intervention at the right time can help to get to grips with even the biggest challenge that life holds.
The whole spectrum of human experience
Positive psychology is often seen as some kind of happiology; Existentialism often as dark and negative. There is a degree of truth in both claims. However, by balancing them, integrating them, I created something incredibly powerful for myself which I’m now able to share: A way to live that is realistic and does not deny the cruel facts of everyday life, but that is also positive and empowering.
is the scientific study of optimal human functioning. We look at what’s right with people. Its application in coaching promotes personal growth, competence and positive relationships. This is achieved by realizing personal strengths, increasing emotional intelligence, positive cognitive and behavioural interventions and focusing on goals. If you ask people what they want out of life, most would answer that they ultimately want to be happy and as a positive psychologist I have come across thousands of variations of what that means. Yet there are a handful of common factors that seem to make a real difference and these are best addressed by a combination of Positive Psychology and Existential Coaching.
provides a philosophical framework of how we are in the world in relation to ourselves and others. Existential thought highlights personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions, emphasises that we always have a choice and therefore promotes autonomy, it fosters self-acceptance through contemplating the unchangeable givens of our existence (death, meaninglessness, uncertainty and existential isolation) and it enables us to create personal (not ultimate) meaning in this world.
provides clients with a safe and trusting environment, in which they can ponder, reflect, doubt and understand life better. As a fellow traveller I invite my clients to enter a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
The pillars of a good life
(as outlined by science, see e.g. Ryff & Keyes, 1995) can, in my opinion, be best addressed by embedding positive psychology within an existential framework. Coaching seems to provide an ideal environment to go on such a journey.
Building positive, meaningful relationships as well as managing difficult relationships.
Developing the skills to deal with our specific environment.
Acknowledging the choices we have available and being aware of its consequences.
+ Personal growth
Finding ways in which we can grow as a person and realising where we want to go.
Seeing who we really are and how we see the world, accepting our reality as it is. Taking responsibility for our actions and non-actions.
Creating a sense of meaning and purpose in our daily lives and dealing with episodes of meaninglessness.
Positive Existential Coaching
helps you to realise what you can and what you cannot change, to accept the givens of life but to realise the opportunities that are at our hands. Positive Existential Coaching enables you to set goals that are meaningful to you and realistically achievable. Positive Existential Coaching assists you in building a coherent, yet flexible framework of how the world works that provides meaning for what is happening in your world but is open to change as new information or situations are taken aboard. Positive Existential Coaching therefore helps you to build a solid foundation from which to you can choose the life YOU want to live, make difficult decisions in seemingly impossible situations, manage life’s various and inevitable challenges and ultimately lead a happier life.
In essence, Positive Existential Coaching facilitates two things:
Positive Existential Coaching provides a safe space to explore and build a solid foundation to meet life’s challenges, so that, when adversity hits, instead of falling into a hole, you fall into a whole; because nobody has truly lived until they met these human dilemmas and made a choice to face them openly. This foundation consists of getting to know your values and what’s important to you, what you deem meaningful in your life, an awareness of the givens of life and what you can and cannot change; a place to discuss questions that other people frequently try to answer for you instead of helping you to find your own answers.
Positive Existential Coaching helps you to build a safety net positive psychologists call resilience, the ability to bounce back quickly when life pulls the rug underneath your feet. ‘What’s right with me?’ is an important question that we often fail to ask and we know that we can use many positive aspects of our lives to build natural defences against life’s stressors; often we can avoid falling altogether.