Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Your Hopeful Heart

I think I've covered a good deal of this post previously. But as I'm tying up my book proposal for Good Work, I can't help but be reminded that understanding and using both my mind and heart is so damn important in my life. So here is a familiar theme on this blog of mine, and maybe even familiar words. I hope this message and information may find its way to you at a good time and for a good reason.

"Does this path have heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t,
it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other
doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey: as long as you follow it, you are
one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong;
the other weakens you." --Don Juan, as written by Carlos Castenada

You can think of information from your heart as faith, or intuition, or emotion, or your higher power, but whatever you call it, research bears out the mysterious and infallible accuracy of trusting a source that is not logical, or factual, or even understandable.

You ignore your heart at your own peril. Your mind wants facts and assurances. Your heart wants passion and purpose. Your mind looks at information and possibilities along a straight line. You better believe you want your airplane pilot and neurosurgeon to be proceeding exactly this way. But in relationships, life choices, and the pursuit of happiness, your heart truly has something also important to tell you. You can choose to disregard it, but in my years of counseling experience, that usually results in less than satisfactory decisions.

Here’s how Healing Arts Instructor Susan Kramer puts it:

“Heart decisions come from our total experience—bodily senses, mind, and soul. The energy for making the best decision is not centered in the top of our body, the head. The energy really is pumped all through us from the center of our body, our physical heart, energizing all of our body. By analyzing all the data taken in through the receptors of all of our bodily senses we can know that we have reached the right decision by noting how we feel in our torso, in our physical heart or physical body. We should feel relaxed in our body instead of stressed in our body. Some signs of stress are digestive upsets, raised blood pressure, and headaches that occur when making just head, instead of full-body decisions.”

The trick is to be able to bypass your mind, which worries about everything, long enough to allow your heart—your feelings, your body, your emotions, your faith, and your intuition—to be at least be heard.

Your mind asks the hard questions. It thinks things through. It objectively weighs the options. All of this is essential and appropriate. It's just not the whole picture.

A hopeful heart asks the tender questions, considers feelings and relationships, asks what feels right. Your mind isn't fond of this line of questioning. It is too vague, for one thing. Your logical mind prefers and often requires certainty: for example--if I do A, I can expect B.

But in most cases your mind creates a losing battle when it insists on guaranteess and known results before you ready to take action. When it comes "matters of the heart"--and this might include weighing a job offer or thinking about moving or a determining if this is Ms. or Mr. Right--making the “right” decision is actually impossible —you simply can’t know with certainty that you have every bit of information available no matter when or what or how you decide.

There is not one decision you will ever make in your lifetime that comes with an advance guarantee. Once you accept this fact, you’ll be able to approach the decisions you make from a place that includes and cultivates both your jittery mind and your hopeful heart. It usually takes both of them to get it right.


  1. Good post. It makes me think of the thinking-feeling continuum in the Myers-Briggs...this post is very pro-feeling! which is fine with me :)

  2. Making decisions is always a struggle between your head and your heart. I'm glad I have my husband to talk to try and process things. In the end, if you pray about it, I find that the answer is always within you if you examine your heart deeply enough. Looking back on the decisions I've made, hindsight shows me a different or better outcome had I used my head. But knowing I made the decision that was right for me at the time makes me feel less regret.

  3. I often wonder why there is so much emotion during the first months of the year.

  4. bearette, hello! love the myers-briggs.

    menchie, yes, the fewer regrets the better. i try really hard to avoid regrets.

    ces, good point. i think you're right about this--i wonder why too. new beginnings? weather? or ??

  5. kj - what's your myers-briggs type? are you an ENFP?

  6. I love when you post this sort of thing just when I need to read them! :) xox

  7. Where was this blog when I was 18? Great post and I'm a work in progress with balancing the two :)