Stress Relief Principles: The Importance Of What’s Important To You—Part 1

by Doc Orman, M.D.

The importance of importance part 1

This week, I’d like to interest you in thinking more deeply about what’s really important to you.  I’d also like you to consider how deciding what’s important can either increase or decrease your stress.

Nothing In Life Is Truly Important

Let’s begin this discussion by first acknowledging that nothing in life is truly important.  This includes everything that has happened in the history of human civilization so far, and everything that’s going to happen in the future.

Nothing in life is inherently more important than anything else…until we human beings declare it so.  Is human life important?  Only if we say it is.  Is humane treatment of animals important?  Only if we say it shall be?  Is having a job important?  Only if you say it is.  Is being well educated or having loads of money important?  Only if you say they are.

The point here is that we human beings get to decide what we’re going to consider important or not.  We can do this collectively, through our families, societies, and social groups.   We can also do this individually, through the personal choices, decisions, and goals we make and then choose to organize our lives around.

Importance Guides Your Actions, Feelings And Goals

What you consider important will have a direct effect upon how you live your life. The actions you take, the goals you set for yourself, even your day-to-day thoughts and feelings will all, in large part, be driven by what you consider important.

For example, if it’s important to you to keep your bedroom, home or workspace squeaky clean and tidy, then your actions will usually be consistent with these goals.  And if you walk into a room, house, or workspace that’s horribly cluttered and messy, you’ll likely feel uncomfortable and possibly even stressed.

Similarly, if it’s important to you to become President of the United States, or to become the World’s greatest Olympian, or to break some longstanding record in your chosen sport or profession, then your actions will likely steer you in the direction of doing things to help bring about these goals.

So what we consider important really is quite a big deal.  It’s one of those “not so obvious” forces in our lives that strongly influences how we think, feel and behave, while remaining hidden from our view much of the time.

Can What We Consider Important Make Us Stressed?

Another interesting thing about importance is that there are many people who generate a whole lot of stress for themselves by choosing to make certain things important…and other things not so important.   There are also people who have significantly prevented or lowered their stress levels by choosing to make certain things important that they didn’t make important previously.

In my next two posts this week, I’ll explore some examples of how the issue of importance cuts both ways when it comes to our experience of stress.

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