Thursday, 28 October 2010

Acting with Awareness - A New Study

One of the first things I ask career changers to do is to start noticing their lives more.  That is, notice what is happening in the present moment, be that something in the external environment, or thoughts or feelings experienced internally.

This awareness can help build a better understanding of what drives us, motivates us and what hooks us away from what it is we really want to do (otherwise known as experiential avoidance).

However, awareness is not enough.  A brilliant new study shows that for wellbeing we must act with awareness and be willing to accept the internal states that come with that:

776 students (50% female) in Grade 10 completed measures of mindfulness, emotional awareness, and experiential acceptance, as well as measures of major personality traits. To study prospective changes, assessments of emotional well-being were completed across a 1-year interval.

Analyses revealed that "Acting with Awareness" (engaging fully in one's current activity with undivided attention), emotional awareness, and experiential acceptance were all linked to prosocial tendencies and uniquely predicted increases in well-being across the year. 

Observing experience (noticing, observing, and attending to a variety of stimuli) was correlated with positive and negative aspects of personality and did not predict changes in wellbeing.

Source:  Ciarrochi, J., Kashdan, T., Leeson, P., Heaven, P.C.L., Jordon, C. (2010). On being Aware and Accepting: A one-year Longitudinal Study into Adolescent Well-being. Journal of Adolescence. 

It's acceptance AND commitment to action which boosts wellbeing.  And that's why I study the handily named Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.


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