Stress and Your Values

“What,” you may ask, “have my values and attitudes got to do with the stress in my life?” The answer is, “Lots.” Your personal values and your overall philosophy of life play a major role in determining your stress level.

What you think is important and what you value act together in often subtle yet important ways to either protect you from stress or make your life more stressful. Rarely a day goes by without some decision, some opinion, or some action being determined, or at least shaped, by your values and attitudes.

Your values in large part determine your goals, your needs, and your wants. And when you don’t reach these goals, or fulfill these needs and wants, you feel stressed.

You may not even be aware of holding such values and attitudes. Yet you do. And either consciously or subconsciously they guide many of your more important decisions — everything from what you eat to how you vote, from what work you do to how you spend your time and money.

Clarifying your values and attitudes is an important first step in moving toward developing a stress-resilient philosophy of life. The greater the congruence between your values and your goals, and between your decisions and actions, the lower your stress level. Think of your values and attitudes as your roadmap in life. The better the map, the smaller the chance that you may make a wrong turn.

At various points in life, you realize that some of your values and goals are not providing you with the kind of happiness and satisfaction you want. Many of your core values may not be the values you truly believe in. They may be values you inherited from others, without much thought on your part.

These values can come from your parents, your peers, your religion, your teachers, television and the movies, the corporation or organization you work for, or the community you live in. Such values can match your own values. However, in some cases, they may not reflect what is truly meaningful or important to you at this point in your life.

Yes, you’re climbing the ladder, but it may be the wrong ladder. What may have seemed worthwhile and important at one stage of your life may not seem as important later on. Your values and goals change, and reevaluating and reconsidering your values from time to time is important.

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