Coaching Tools 101: How to Create More Joy in Life with the What Makes My Heart Sing? Exercise

Client pointing at What Makes Heart Sing Tool

"What Makes My Heart Sing?" is one of my absolute favourite coaching exercises. I've used it with individual clients and in innumerable workshops. It's a powerful tool for awakening and happiness—and it's incredibly simple too!

The power in this tool is the realisation that what makes us happy is usually free—and easy to do. So why aren't we doing these things more often? Why are we so busy chasing material goals?

But I get ahead of myself.

In this article you'll find instructions on how to use What Makes My Heart Sing 1) with a client or prospect, 2) in a group or workshop AND 3) how to use it online in a Zoom webinar or similar. Also, scroll down to find a video of a Tools Clinic with Emma-Louise using this tool!

How to use this Powerful Coaching Exercise

1) How to use What Makes My Heart Sing? with a Client or Prospect

  • Simply ask your client to make a list of everything that "makes their heart sing!".
  • First, frame up the exercise: It's when you feel happy and at peace with yourself and the world—you feel light and free.
  • Writing this list can be done IN session or given as homework.
  • Then once, the list is complete I review it with them. I ask what they notice about their list.
  • Eventually, if they don't mention it, I'll point out that most (if not all!) of the things are FREE and EASY to do.
  • I let that sink in for a moment. I'll ask what they're thinking right now? What do they feel?
  • I'll ask why they think they don't do more of these things in their life?
  • Then we'll identify up to 3 actions to bring more of the 'heart sing' items into their life.

Get your What Makes My Heart Sing Tool here:

2) How to use What Makes My Heart Sing? in a Workshop

I love, love, LOVE running this exercise in a Group session. The ideas and wisdom that come out of a collective review and discussion of this question are incredibly powerful—and can be life-changing for some people.

  • First, frame up the exercise: It's when you feel happy and at peace with yourself and the world—you feel light and free. And It's extremely helpful to give some examples like running barefoot in the grass, watching a sunset, climbing a mountain, a night with friends, watching dogs or children play, relaxing in the bath etc.
  • Then get your attendees into groups of 3-4 people, and get them to discuss the answer to the question, "What Makes My Heart Sing?". I usually give them around 5 minutes to do this.
  • When the time is up, ask someone from each group to share with the rest of the attendees what makes their heart sing.
  • I like to write these up on a whiteboard or flipchart so everyone can see what is on there.
  • Once every group has shared, I simply ask the question, "So, what do you notice about this list?"
    • It's interesting because each group is different. And I love getting the attendees to really think.
    • I've had all kind of answers to this question, and about 50% of the time someone spots that most of the things listed by people are 'free' or 'easy' to do. If not, then after a few moments I share this with them.
  • And this is the big learning here: If we look at the list of things people have identified, most of them are:
    1) FREE (or inexpensive) and
    2) Really EASY to do.
  • I let that sink in for a moment. I'll ask what they're thinking right now.
  • And of course the big question is: If these things that "make your heart sing" are free and easy to do, why aren't we doing more of them?
  • If you have time you could ask: "So, why is it do you think, that we have the opportunity for happiness right on our doorstep and we don't do these things more?" Really powerful learnings and insights will come from a group review of this question.
  • Finally, I ask each attendee to come up with a minimum of 1 action (up to a maximum of 3 actions), that they can 100% commit to, to bring more of what "makes their heart sing" into their lives.
  • And to wrap up this portion of the workshop, I find it's powerful to ask each person to share one of their actions with the group. It's great to reinforce both individual commit to the actions and to reinforce and expand each person's learning from this exercise.

3) How to use this tool with an online group in Zoom (or similar)

Follow the same structure as with the workshop above.

But for the Group Discussion portion

1) If you have a "Breakout room" function, then use that function to put people into groups of 3-4 people to discuss.

2) And if you don't have a "Breakout room" function

  • Ask everyone to create their initial list of ideas individually.
  • Then for the sharing and review portion, each individual can share their ideas with the group. This can be in the "Chat" function or verbally if you have that option.
  • Write down people's ideas and responses down as you go and summarise/group together what people said at the end.
  • If you have Whiteboard or screen-sharing options, you can type people's answers onto your screen as they say them out loud instead.

And for the Individual Sharing parts

  • If your group is large, get them to share their thoughts or actions in the "Chat".
  • And if it's a smaller group, then it's great to get each person to unmute themselves and share with the group.

Watch this Tools Clinic: What Makes My Heart Sing?

Learn even more about this tool, and see it demo'd firsthand by Emma-Louise here!

Get What Makes My Heart Sing in the Self-Discovery Toolkit!


I recommend either using our ready-made What Makes My Heart Sing? Tool, or creating your own worksheet with fun graphics and specifically—a space for 1) their list and 2) to write down their actions. We all know that when we write things down, we see them more clearly.

This is a powerful exercise to help your clients find more happiness - where they are. It's a HUGE learning for many people that what most satisfies us can be both easy to do and free. This exercise may even be the start point for questioning many other things in their lives previously taken for granted or things they had not looked at any other way than how they have been told...

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Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Client pointing at What Makes Heart Sing Tool by Kraken Images

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