The Self-Development Industry And The Cult Of Happiness

I have to admit something: I get really annoyed with the coaching industry sometimes, which is weird because I’m a life coach and I’m pretty much obsessed with my job.

Here’s what annoys me with the whole life coaching thing: there are memes upon videos upon tweets that are peddling a dangerous idea that what we should be all of the time is: happy (said in big pink bubble cloud letters).

This is a dangerous idea to sell.

Let me be clear: I’m not against being happy. What I’m against is this notion that we should be happy all the time. I see it in my clients when they come into sessions, struggling with wanting to report on emotions that are *gasp* negative, trying to talk themselves into immediately seeing the silver lining, learning the lesson, acting in faith, finding the solution, getting back into hustle mode, taking the leap, etc., etc.

Yes. To all of that, yes. Eventually.

But I know all too well from experience what happens when a return to happiness is forced. An incongruency sets in that can show up with symptoms similar to depression or anxiety. Stress increases. A connection with the highest self is compromised because we are refusing to look at an experience for what it is and second-guessing our very reality.

And trust me, I get why people want to get back to happy and content quickly.

It’s not fun to be unhappy/anxious/sad/afraid/pissed off. It’s not comfortable.

But when we bypass our negative emotions, we’re not getting rid of them. They’re still there. And they’ll find a way to show up over and over again, casting a shadow over all the wonderful things that we do have happening in our lives.

All of the negative emotions – anger, sadness, fear, guilt and hurt – actually serve a purpose. When we are congruent and in integrity with our selves and others, there’s a strong likelihood that they’re appropriate and warranted. They are there to give us a message. Something might be off track; we could be forcing something that isn’t right. (One of the worst panic attacks of my life was right after I accepted a position that was so wrong for me, but I took it because I thought it was the right thing to do.)

Sometimes negative emotions are telling us to take a beat, to slow down for ourselves and reflect a bit. They’re always a feedback mechanism, allowing us to take a look into the shadow side, the side that empowers us to appreciate how radiant life is when we’re in the light.


It wasn’t until I went through the fire and did the really scary work of addressing what was at the root of my own negative emotions that I was able to start experiencing a state of joy and flow unlike any other. It was difficult. It was liberating. It was priceless.

Sadness still comes up. I’m still scared on a regular basis. But it’s not a permanent diagnosis. It’s a call to action. It’s a call to reflection. It’s a call to awareness.

Answer the call. I promise that going out of your comfort zone and learning from the experiences will start to yield some major rewards like your happiness, joy, contentment and flow being authentic and allowing you to fully ground into it.

Shine Bright,

Success Coaching For Creatives




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