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Coaching for inner peace: How existential well-being builds a resilient future

To build a resilient future, more work can be done to enhance existential well-being. Coaches will play a key role in helping individuals discover purpose and inner peace — the confidence and calm to navigate uncertainty as they address the global need for meaningful work and life.

A lack of purpose and meaning can lead to feelings of isolation and anxiety, harming motivation and overall well-being

Coaches can help clients uncover a sense of meaning and purpose by helping clients identify and clarify their core values

Fulfilling existential needs results in stronger and more resilient individuals, organizations, and communities

Existential well-being helps people connect to a greater sense of meaning and purpose

Existential well-being, a person’s connection to a sense of meaning and purpose in life, is a foundational aspect of overall health. While external factors such as physical, interpersonal, and workplace well-being are vital for human flourishing, focusing on inner peace and purpose is also important. In a world facing collective trauma, demographic shifts, and rapid technological change, cultivating inner peace equips people to adapt to unpredictability while maintaining an inner sense of well-being.

“Well-being begins with inner well-being,” explains Wisdom Weaver Sackeena Gordon-Jones. She observes that many start with external actions to promote self-care, such as going to a spa. While these external actions can lead to well-being, Sackeena asks, “Is this really inner self-care?” Her perspective underscores that true well-being begins within and involves deeper existential questions such as “Why does it matter?” “Where am I going?” and “How well can I be in getting there?” By addressing these questions, people can connect more profoundly with their present state. Sackeena notes, “This allows us to honor the present by asking, ‘Where are we in this moment?'”

Coaches are supporting existential well-being as clients seek greater meaning and purpose

The value of existential well-being lies in its ability to provide individuals with a sense of fulfillment. When people understand their core values and life goals, they are more likely to experience inner peace and resilience. This internal clarity can lessen feelings of isolation and anxiety, which are often the byproducts of a lack of purpose. On several well-being measures, Gallup World Poll data from 2012–2022 finds that people who are religious have a better overall sense of well-being through their connection to meaning and purpose. This growing desire to seek meaningful work and lives reflects a growing global need to uncover and clarify a person’s core values for meaningful engagement. Coaches play a vital role in facilitating this process, guiding individuals to discover their purpose and to develop the internal clarity to navigate uncertainty.

For instance, coaches can employ techniques such as values clarification exercises, reflective questioning, and goal-setting frameworks to help clients explore their intrinsic motivations. By fostering a deeper understanding of what drives them, clients can align their actions with their values, leading to greater satisfaction and reduced stress. Additionally, coaches can support clients in developing mindfulness practices, which promote inner calm and enhance the ability to remain centered during times of change.

The impact of fulfilling existential needs extends beyond individual well-being. It fosters stronger and more resilient individuals, organizations, and communities. When people feel grounded in their purpose, they are better equipped to handle challenges and contribute positively to their environments. Thus, enhancing existential well-being is not only beneficial for personal health but also for creating a resilient future.

Meaningful and purposeful work uncovers a trend revealing the existential well-being gap

The onset of the pandemic has brought a profound shift in how individuals perceive their work and its meaningfulness, highlighting a significant gap in existential well-being. Wisdom Weaver and coach Siddhi Japee describes this phenomenon: “My clients were suddenly asking, ‘I have been doing this job for so long. Why am I doing this? What difference does it make? This is so pointless.’” Post-pandemic trends toward “The Great Resignation” and “The Great Reshuffle” show how workers took action to create greater meaning in the workplace. These reflections illustrate a growing recognition that many people have been engaging in work that lacks personal significance, prompting deeper existential questioning and a reassessment of priorities.

The trend toward meaning in the West reveals that while traditional markers of success, such as financial stability, remain important, they are not sufficient for achieving a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Siddhi notes that these issues have led to coaching sessions increasingly focusing on self-care and deeper existential inquiries. This shift in coaching practice underscores the importance of addressing the inner well-being of clients to help them navigate their careers and lives with a renewed sense of purpose.

Coaches can consider how culture influences ideas around existential well-being

Culture significantly influences a person’s existential well-being. Coaches can learn more from global examples, such as the AmaBomvan people of South Africa, whose well-being is intertwined with African traditional religions (ATR), These emphasize a holistic view encompassing identity, positionality, place, and relationships. Their understanding of health and well-being arises from a complex interplay of spirituality, life location, the places and spaces they inhabit, and the relationships they negotiate with various internal and external influences. By integrating inner peace and harmony, individuals foster a deeper sense of purpose, enhancing overall existential well-being.

Building off global research, Wisdom Weaver and coach Ryan Niemiec highlights that creating inner peace and harmony is within an individual’s control and is closely linked to the cultivation of certain character strengths. Ryan notes that “peace itself and finding harmony in life or in relationships are not discussed” as frequently as other aspects of well-being, such as happiness or mindfulness. By integrating inner peace and harmony, individuals can foster a deeper sense of peace and purpose, enhancing overall existential well-being.

The rise of mindfulness practices in western cultures has also been instrumental in addressing the existential well-being gap. Ryan observes, “My hope is that we are getting better at addressing the well-being gap because of the rise of mindfulness and acceptance approaches. Mindfulness is very much about helping people to create more equanimity, which is a sense of peace when under fire and in turmoil.” Mindfulness encourages individuals to slow down, pay attention to their experiences, and cultivate a sense of calm, which can significantly enhance their existential well-being. Coaches can help clients explore deeper existential questions and prioritize inner peace. Integrating mindfulness practices and tools like the VIA Character Strengths Survey can further support individuals in achieving a harmonious and fulfilling life, bridging the existential well-being gap and fostering a more resilient future.

Coaching for existential fulfillment uncovers meaning beyond professional roles

Coaching can help individuals uncover meaning in life beyond their professional roles, addressing the existential need for workplace purpose and fulfillment. In Switzerland, for instance, people often derive significant meaning from their work due to a culture of discipline and hard work. However, Wisdom Weaver Reka Deak points out, “this very strong self-discipline and drive becomes perfectionism.” Her insight highlights the need for coaching approaches that help individuals find balance and meaning beyond their professional achievements.

Coaches can support meaning in the workplace by inspiring senior leaders to connect with their inner being to achieve a sense of wholeness. Sackeena states, “We discovered that while senior leaders are brilliant, they are not experiencing a level of meaning and fulfillment. And they are very stressed.” By guiding senior leaders to view themselves holistically, coaching can facilitate a deeper experience of flourishing, helping individuals see value in their personal lives and inner selves, not just in their professional accomplishments.

Optimism plays a key factor in helping individuals tap into a sense of inner peace and well-being. Wisdom Weaver Amy Blankson notes, “individuals with an optimistic mindset are 31% more productive, 40% more likely to receive a promotion, 10 times more engaged at work, and up to 3 times more creative.” She explains, “When you are optimistic, you keep your mind open to possibilities in your environment, and you are able to see new opportunities and new avenues that you might not have explored otherwise.” Coaching that fosters optimism can help individuals overcome fear and recognize opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment beyond their job roles. A holistic approach is essential for individuals to thrive not just in their careers but in all aspects of their lives.

Meaning fosters well-being and resilience among individuals, organizations, and communities in the face of an uncertain future

Meaning plays a role in fostering well-being and resilience, particularly in times of uncertainty. Wisdom Weaver Byron Johnson emphasizes envisioning a future self, stating, “Looking to the future, they might ask, ‘What do I want my future self to look like?’” This forward-looking perspective encourages individuals to define their aspirations and develop a sense of purpose, which is vital for navigating an uncertain future.

Recognizing the inherent dignity and value of every human life is also fundamental to building resilience. Byron notes, “Most faith traditions teach that every human life has dignity and value, but so many people have been told they do not. So, it is a very powerful thing for people to hear that they are loved and that they are worth loving.” This affirmation fosters a sense of belonging and strength within communities.

Coaching plays a pivotal role in reinforcing these concepts of meaning and resilience. Amy notes, “We as coaches can remind people that we have human agency to overcome anything that is placed in our path. When we own the ability to choose how we see the world, it changes how we show up in the world.” By helping individuals recognize their agency and capacity for choice, coaches empower them to cultivate optimism and resilience. Blankson adds, “That continually fuels our happiness, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

As global interest in finding meaningful work and life increases, coaches have the opportunity to help clients pursue existential well-being support. Discussing existential well-being and leaning into ideas like values and purpose can be valuable resources for clients. Coaches play a crucial role in the future of well-being by assisting clients in discovering their purpose and cultivating a sense of inner peace both at work and in their personal lives.

By helping clients explore and fulfill their existential needs, coaches contribute to their long-term resilience and overall well-being. This support can have a ripple effect, strengthening the resilience of organizations and communities worldwide. Coaches are positioned to be key agents in this transformation, helping individuals navigate the complexities of a rapidly changing world with confidence and calm.

Transformational Questions:

  1. What role can coaching play in promoting existential well-being?
  2. How can a coaching approach integrate a person’s sense of meaning to foster growth?
  3. How can coaching reimagine client benchmarks to include purpose?
  4. How can coaches support clients in considering how their connection to inner peace impacts their overall interpersonal and vocational satisfaction?
  5. What does a coaching approach for existential well-being look like?

Learn more about the impact of coaching and existential well-being:

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