Three Inner Battles; Destination vs. Direction (part 3)

September 2011

Peace of mind boils down to whether we are moving “Confidently in the direction of our dreams” (Henry David Thoreau). Too often we assess our lives by how close we are to reaching our next goal. I will be the first to admit that I have fallen into the trap of  “It will be so wonderful when…”  But happiness is not in the accomplishments, not at any destination. We continuously set new goals.  Therefore as soon as we arrive, we are no longer there.  As Steven C. Hayes suggests in “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life,” it might be more useful to gauge our lives by whether we are moving in a direction which    we value (2005).  Hayes compares our values to the directions on a 

compass.  You never reach north, for example, it is not a concrete destination at which you may arrive.  Instead, he proposes we look for our joy and rewards while on the path itself. Peace of mind may be found along the journey, in knowing that you are being true to what you believe in and who you are.
Use Your Compass: Be true to YOU

One of the few concepts that has stayed with me from the courses I took on social psychology is cognitive dissonance.  In my practice, I often see individuals who suffer from anxiety, depression, etc., due to a conflict between their actions and what type of person they would like to be; who they truly are.  What the evidence in social psychology has shown us is that;

1) This state is extremely uncomfortable and

2) An individual will often rationalize or otherwise justify the inconsistency between their self-concept and their behavior rather than change their behavior.

What are your intrinsic values?  Family… physical health/strength… education… honesty… community… financial success?  To identify your values, think about how you’d like others to define you.  For example, if it is important to you that you are seen as a good parent, spouse, child and sibling; you value family.  Remember, loose the destinations here!

Defining your values is not the challenge, that’s too easy.  I challenge you to list your values and examine one with which your actions do not match, without rationalizing or justifying. Don’t judge this inconsistency as bad or ineffective, just recognize it.  Then identify 1-3 actions that will point you in the right direction.


Happiness is when you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Gandhi