It seems to me that one very important factor that tips the scale toward either stress or passion is value. Yes, even when our intensity of effort is the same, we call it passion when we are working toward and focused on our values – those very areas of life that should drive us. When our actions are not aligned with our values we are much more likely to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and disconnected. One approach that we utilize in our practice, which comes from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), is to help individuals engage in values clarification exercises (click here for an example.) Aligning effort with values can prove quite powerful.
As a psychologist I have the privilege and opportunity to engage in conversation with many individuals – young and old alike – about their values. In session I am frequently referencing images of “moving towards your lighthouse – your values” or commenting that “it’s what matters to you that’s important.” Indeed even the inspiration for the title of our blog ‘Minding What Matters’ came from ideals of the importance of focusing on values.
Values clarification, as an exercise, is both simple and complex and should be a practice that we routinely observe. If you find yourself feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or just stressed by the daily grind of life, take a moment to find your lighthouse – and make sure you’re headed towards it.
J. Oni Dakhari, PsyD
J. Oni Dakhari, PsyD is a licensed psychologist who specializes in helping kids and parents create hope, resilience, and lasting change.