Your heart and your head don’t always agree. So which should you listen to? Ask ten of your friends, and MOST of them will give you the wrong answer. Some will say “follow your heart.” Others will say “follow your head.” The truth is, the question is based on a false assumption. It assumes you should have to choose between the two in the first place.
Anyone, including you, who tries to choose between their heart and their head is forcing themselves to make a bad decision. I’d like to offer a third alternative. One that’ll save you a lot of confusion and heartache. I think you’ll see what I mean as you read this…
Only Your Whole Self Can Define Happiness
Happiness starts with honestly defining what happiness means to you. You can only do this as your whole self. You’ll never find genuine happiness while your heart and your head are in conflict. The best you can do is settle for an imitation; like the jaded married couple who gives up healthy negotiation and settles for half-hearted compromises. Such couples never achieve their full potential. They’re too divided by their individual desires.
This is why becoming your whole and authentic self should be your NUMBER ONE priority. More so even than finding happiness. Most people pursue happiness by fleeing pain or by chasing pleasure.
Ironically, they do this at the expense of EXPERIENCING happiness. Happiness isn’t just about having less bad and more good. It’s also about creating value for yourself and for those you love. And you can only do this if you’ve defined happiness as your WHOLE self.
I’ve often told my coaching clients that to be truly FULFILLED, you must show up as your 100% self. Nothing less will do. And if your heart and your head are in conflict, you’re either repressing a part of your self, or you’re pursuing someone else’s “brand” of happiness. Either way, you’re giving up something precious. So if ANY opportunity puts you in conflict with yourself, the smartest thing you can do is get away from it.
I’m NOT saying you should run from hard choices. I’m simply encouraging you to wait for the choices that will challenge you to grow according to your true nature. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, because, again, only your WHOLE SELF can define happiness. And secondly…
Only Your Whole Self Can EXPERIENCE Happiness
Few things are worse than being unhappy when happiness is all around you. Yet, this is exactly what happens when you give up part of yourself to get something you “want.” If you force yourself to choose between what your heart wants, and what your head wants, this is exactly where you’ll end up. Surrounded by happiness, but unable to fully experience it.
People with depression feel dead inside because they’ve either buried, denied or repressed a part of themselves. Thus, they’re no longer “connected” to their own inner experience. This is not a metaphysical idea. Your body is loaded with cells which specialize in transferring information from one to another in the form of chemical “messages” and/or nerve impulses.
These messages are processed by your brain as emotional states. Depressed people have experienced so much pain, anger or disappointment, they’ve literally “turned the volume down” on these messages. But what you bury, gets buried alive. And even your repressed emotions will find a way to express themselves. In most cases, they’ll manifest themselves as physical pain. Other times, you’ll impulsively unload them on other people.
Victor Frankl talked about this in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl was a Jewish Psychologist who survived the horrors of the World War II Concentration camps.
In it, he described a moment shortly after his release, when he found that he couldn’t fully experience ordinary sensations. Sensations like the sun on his skin, or the sound of the birds, or the smell of grass. In that moment, he realized that it would take some time for him to learn to experience the world again. Frankl was describing a residual disconnection with his own INNER experience.
This often happens to people who live through traumatic experiences. They temporarily lose their ability to “drink in” their own experience. It takes time and effort for them to regain this connection with themselves. This is why people recovering from toxic relationships or stressful work environments often go through a period of introspection. They’re reconnecting with the part of themselves which they “buried” as a result of the trauma.
Right now, this conflict between your heart and your head could be a warning that such an experience is around the corner. It could be a sign that what you “want” isn’t in sync with what know to be right. If you go ahead anyway, you may have to repress a part of who you are, just to get what you want. And a time may come when you can’t even experience the joy that made you want it in the first place.
I know this is hard to hear. Especially when your heart really wants something. I’ve been through that a few times. But it’s NEVER turned out positive for me or anyone else I know. This is because only your whole self can define happiness. Only your whole self can fully experience happiness. And most importantly…
Only Your Whole Self Can CREATE Happiness
When you’re living as your whole self, EVERY action, from the small to the significant, is an authentic expression of your unique personality, gift and passions.
You also set an unforgettable example for others to live the same way. Few things are more inspiring than a person living at their full God-given potential. Such people create the change they seek in the world by becoming that change themselves. Talent, personality, money and status are all wonderful. But only the unique and authentic expression of who you are can make the world truly different than it was before you came along.
Think about ALL the great people you’ve read about. They become great, not by imitating or competing with others, but by finding and expressing their unique “voice.” Talent alone can’t do this. It’s too common. There have been talented many painters, but only one Van Gogh, one Rembrandt, one Monet. There have been many talented writers, but only one Shakespeare, one Goth, one Dante. There have been many talented composers, but only one Beethoven, one J.S. Bach, one Tchaikovsky.
You’ll find similar examples in EVERY field of endeavor. There may be millions of extraordinarily talented writers, painters, architects and athletes in the world. Most of whom you or I have NEVER heard of. We’ve never heard of them because they never found a way to stand out. And they never stood out because they either never found their voice, or they buried it through imitation and insecurity.
Again, extraordinary talent alone can NEVER create greatness. Only the authentic expression of your unique “voice” can do that. It’s the most valuable contribution you’ll ever make to the world. Why throw that away for something that doesn’t even awaken your heart AND your mind?
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose his soul?”
Think about that. Right now, there’s someone, maybe dozens, hundreds, thousands or even MILLIONS of people who are counting on someone like you to show up in their life. Not as a shadow, or a shell or an imitation. But as a unique and authentic expression of who you are.
This is the greatest gift you’ll ever give to the world. Don’t throw it all away. Save the best of your heart, the best of your mind, and the best of ALL that you are, for something that’s worth the wait.-Stay Awesome,