Following your heart is a key to living a fulfilling life. Without following your heart, you may do things the right way only to find later that you’ve chosen the wrong things to do in the first place. You may live to meet other people’s expectations without ever finding what matters to you. At the end, you just live someone else’s life without ever living yours. Scary.
That’s why it’s important to follow your heart. In fact, I believe it’s one of the most important lessons for an effective life. The obvious next question is how.
From my experiences, here are some tips to listen to and follow your heart:
1. Align your heart with the right direction
If you have a compass, you need to be sure that it points to the right direction. To do that, you should ensure that there is no magnetic field around that can alter its direction. Similarly, you should ensure that your heart points to the right direction. Prevent other things from deviating it.
In my opinion, this is where spirituality comes into play. Spirituality helps you align your heart with the right direction. So hone yourself spiritually. Depending on your belief, you could pray, meditate, or read spiritual texts.
2. Trust your heart
This step is essential. Without trusting your heart, it will be difficult for you to follow the next tips. After all, how can you follow your heart if you don’t even trust it?
This step, of course, is not easy. Many people trust their mind more than their heart. But somehow your heart knows what is right, while your mind often just rationalize things to meet your or other people’s expectations. There is a huge difference between them.
The first tip above (align your heart with the right direction) plays a big role here. If you know that your heart is well-aligned, you will have a strong reason to trust it.
3. Forget your plans (at least for a while)
To follow your heart, you should not let your mind get in the way. One manifestation of your mind is your plans. So forget your plans, at least for a while. This way you free your mind to listen to your heart without being limited by your current plans.
4. Open your mind to new possibilities
Continuing the previous tip, to follow your heart you should open your mind to new possibilities. Often your heart will tell you something that is beyond what you can currently see. If you do not open your mind to new possibilities, you may not be able to perceive it. Even if you hear it, you may soon discard it because it doesn’t make sense.
5. Calm down
The voice of your heart is often just a whisper, so you need to first calm the other voices, especially the voices of your mind. You may want to close your eyes and take a deep breath to calm down your mind. Or you may want to meditate.
6. Listen to the small voice within you
Now that you’re calm and your mind is open, you can listen to the small voice within you. What does it say regarding the decision you want to make?
A sign that it’s the voice of your heart is you know it is right. You may not be able to explain why. You just know that it’s right.
7. Be careful of rationalization
The perpetual enemy of listening to your heart is rationalization. After you listen your heart says something, your mind will soon try to rationalize things. It may give you reasons why you should not do that or why you won’t be successful. For this reason, the first glimpse or impression you get is usually the right one. The later ones might have been polluted by rationalization.
8. Build the courage to follow your heart
After you know what your heart is saying, the difficulty lies in following it. Often following your heart takes courage to do something unpopular or even irrational. You might not have the courage to follow your heart right away, especially for big decisions in life. That’s fine. You could practice with smaller decisions. Just build the courage to follow your heart over time and be careful not to let rationalization comes and distracts you.
I’m not against being rational. Being rational is good and often necessary. But I think your heart should have higher priority than your mind. It should have the ability to override what your mind is saying. If your mind goes hand in hand with your heart, that’s good. But if it doesn’t, your heart should have the final say. After all, living your own life is much better than living someone else’s, no matter how good the latter is.
Photo by aussiegall