1st Publishing of The Happiness Makeover Theoretical Underpinnings

This is the first publishing of the theoretical basis supporting the change process in this leadership development program. It may come as a surprise something seemingly sounding so simple, Happiness Makeover, can really be so complex embodying a combination of thirteen theories and more.  Here is a brief look into the scientific underpinnings of the process from the genres of leadership and positive psychology. This program has contributed to helping many people feel better and even some who gave up on happiness. 

What is behind the curtain of this mental health, well-being increase, sustainable happiness leadership development program?

Here is a bird's eye view....



Twenty years in the making the Happiness Makeover leadership development program has helped many people attain a level of happiness they never thought they’d reach. If you’re coping with mental or physical illness, thoughts of suicide, if you’re embroiled in a messy divorce, if you have  family problems, IRS problems, or housing foreclosures, the Happiness Makeover offers you a way out. And a way in. This program is made for the regular person who either tends to be stressed, depressed or someone who wants to better themselves in general. Personal responsibility and readiness are pre-requisites. Children as low as age twelve to seniors of age eighty- two have spanned the population who have spent time in the program, yet most range from age twenty- eight to fifty- five. A lot of people happen to be experiencing challenging life circumstances when deciding to take the leadership program or they have attained their life goals and have then realized the external world is unable to provide lasting contentment.


The underlying philosophies of this program are based in multiple leadership and positive psychology theories including: nine models of leadership - 1) authentic, 2) inspirational, 3) motivational, 4) servant, 5)  green, 6)  strength-based, 7) appreciative, 8) situational, and 9) charismatic. In addition, it includes four positive psychology theories: 1) appreciative inquiry, 2) 3:1 upward spiral of positive emotions, 3) broaden and build theory of positive emotions, and a variety of leading edge empirically based 4) happiness-increase techniques.

Neuro-linguistic programming is used throughout the three-month program with the goal of consciously eliminating specific words while utilizing others. The aim of this technique is to change the brain through invoking plasticity as a means of attaining positive effects on an individual’s sense of well-being.

Differing from the traditional mental health paradigm which considers people who have a mental disorder, deficit, or something wrong with them, the Happiness Makeover views the student as a ‘normal’ person who basically needs to learn how to become happier.  Students have the desire to learn how to use the new science of happiness to help them in their daily lives and agree to a holistic approach. Diagnosis, pharmacology, or traditional therapy are methods of mental health from yesterday and tomorrow’s mental health is an educational process and aid in daily implementation.


Leadership Theories

Authentic leadership is a process that draws from both psychological capacities and high-developed organizational contexts. Greater self-awareness and self-regulated behavior on the part of leaders and associates fosters positive self-development. (Luthans & Avolio, 2003)

Inspirational leadership refers to leaders being able to communicate with followers so they can attain new heights.

Servant leadership is both a philosophy and a set of practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the exercise of power by someone at the top. By comparison, the servant leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps followers to develop and perform as successfully as possible. (Robert Greenleaf)

Green leadership refers to the burgeoning interest in sustainability, social entrepreneurship, and the creation of new business opportunities through tackling various social problems.

Strength-Based Leadership focuses on three key ways to being an effective leader: knowing your strengths and investing in the strength of others; creating a team with individuals who themselves exhibit the right strength; and understanding and satisfying the basic needs of those on the team.

Appreciative Leadership is concerned with examining what works to create winning performances and how to build and maintain a thriving organization. (Diana Whitney)

Situational Leadership is a theory developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. Its basis is that there is no one single best style of leadership. Instead, effective leadership is task-relevant, and success depends on the ability to lead various individuals or groups. To do this leaders need to set high but attainable goals, they must accept responsibility for the task, and they must take into consideration the relevant education and/or experiences of individuals or groups and their ability to complete various tasks.

Charismatic Leaders gather followers through personality and charm, rather than by any form of external power or authority. It is illuminating to observe such leaders working the room as they move from one person to another.

Positive Psychology Theories

Positive Psychology was adopted by the American Psychology Association (APA) in 1998. Its founder is Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania who is a former President of the American Psychology Association. He realized there was a 17:1 ratio of depression-to-happiness studies and so he set forth to shift the focus on studying what is right with people instead of what is wrong. This is a huge shift in psychological thinking in the treatment of illness, offering individuals the ability to achieve optimal flourishing through skill based learning. Recent neurological research (2012) has shown the acquisition of happiness skills can help treat stress, depression, ADD/ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia creating a positive effect on well-being.

Appreciative Inquiry is a model for the development of strategies that promote analytical inquiry into the best of what is and what could be. This leads to the ability to create the framework of a desired future condition. (Cooperrider and Srivastva, 1990)

The Broaden and Build Theory asserts that positive emotions expand one's awareness and encourage novel, varied, and exploratory thoughts and actions. Over time, such an expansive behavioral pattern increases one’s skills and resources. (Barbara Fredrickson)

Upward and Downward Spirals are not polar opposites. Downward spirals lead to narrowed self-focus and rigid or stereotyped defensive behavior. Upward spirals lead to increased openness to others and new, spontaneous and exploratory activity.

Happiness Increase Techniques are derived from cutting-edge scientific studies as well as from individuals who have achieved lasting happiness for over twenty years.  (Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ilona Boniwell)


Incorporating all these theories in the veins of creation for a mental health option based in self-leadership and learning skills offered from the new science has shown to be effective when traditional methods have failed.  

This process of individual change has been refined to the point of systematic automation offering repetitive sustainable results.

Dr. Aymee Coget