zenhabits : breathe

How to Make Your Heart and Your Mind Work Together

Article by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead, follow him on twitter.

The same voice in your mind that told you to act, is the same voice that ridicules you later for making that choice.

Am I the only one that thinks this is ridiculous?

I want to show you how I’ve learned to make my heart and mind get along.

Because unfortunately…

It’s typical in our society to feel a conflict between what we want to do (our heart) and what we feel is practical (our mind).

We end up living 1/3 of our lives in a cubicle for the “benefits.” We stay friends with people we only kind of like. We do and say things to fit in and seem cool that really go against what we feel is right in our hearts.

Because it’s caused so much heartache in my life, I’ve spend a lot of time trying to diagnose the source of this problem.

Is my heart at fault? Are my feelings just silly and frivolous? Or maybe it’s my mind that’s to blame. It seems like it’s always coming up with conflicting messages anyway.

And on it goes and we never really seem to get to it. There’s a lot of social conditioning that covers up and obscures things too. Even if you really feel like that’s the right choice, how do you know for sure? How do you know it’s not just what you think you should do?

All of this might sound a little over the top, but it’s a real problem. It ruins lives because people can’t make up their minds about whether or not the path of their heart is valid or not. They end up living a shadow of the possibility that they could. All because they couldn’t make up their mind.

There’s a simple answer to this problem. It might seem even a little too simple. But most things are. Bruce Lee once said “The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” I believe this.

First… let’s take a look at where this problem starts.

Confusing the purpose of the heart and mind

The main reason we suffer from this illness of indecision, is that we’ve mistaken the purpose of heart and mind. The heart is like a compass, it’s purpose is to guide the direction our lives should take. Our heart takes a birds eye view on our life and says “this is where you’re at and this is the direction you need to go.”

Our mind on the other hand isn’t made for making purpose driven decisions. The nature of the mind is that it conceptualizes, organizes and compares information. It does this as best it can and says “here are the facts, here’s both sides of the story.”

If we compare our mind and heart to a courtroom, our mind would be the defendant and the plaintiff (both stories) and our heart would be justice or the judge (the right direction).

The reason we’re so troubled by this conflict of head vs heart is that the mind is not only playing the prosecutor and the defense, but has take over the role of the judge as well.

The mind should never be the judge. The minds job is to compare and contrast. To sort things out and say “this is what I’ve got, do what you want with it.”

But more often than not, our mind isn’t doing that. Our mind is making our choices. What’s worse, is even when we don’t need our mind to be at work, it’s still going. Comparing and contrasting everything. Brooding, mostly.

Have you ever noticed that even when it’s completely unnecessary to think about anything, your mind is still going? Have noticed that when this is happening, your mind is getting in the way of your experience? Just a few examples of this that come to mind for me are; sex, watching a sunset, or taking a shower. My mind really doesn’t need to be thinking while doing these things. There’s no point. At all.

Taming the mind

Before we can get the mind to take a break when we don’t need to be incessantly thinking, we have to make friends with it first. If we try to tell our mind to go away, or that we don’t need it, we’ll just encourage it all the more. Instead of a retreat we’ll get a resurgence. We don’t want that.

So if we want to end the conflict of head and heart, we’ve got to figure out a way to marry this disparate pair.

Remember when I told you the answer to this problem is simple? Well, it is. But it won’t be easy at first, because we’ve been doing it all wrong for so long.

What we have to do is only use our mind to go with ourselves. The Latin root for sin means “to go against.” So we have to learn to be without sin.

We have to learn to constantly realigning our decisions to be “with ourselves.”

Have you ever wondered how to tell whether a decision is right? It seems so difficult, doesn’t it? But it becomes so easy when you think “Is this choice going with me, or against me?” You’ll find that the right choice is immediately evident.

If you can learn to practice this every time you make a choice, you’ll start to regain your personal power.

You’ll create a marriage of your heart and mind. Maybe then their child (you) won’t have permanent emotional damage from the divorce it’s been suffering from for so long.

Make the choice today. Just try it out. I think you’ll like it.

Go with yourself.

PS: This is one of the concepts I talk about in my upcoming eBook, Reclaim Your Life, set to help you start living the life you dream of on January 1st. Stay tuned and follow me on twitter for information about a special offer in the next few weeks…

This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind. To learn more about how to reclaim your life, grab a subscription to Illuminated MInd.


If you liked this article, please share it on del.icio.us, StumbleUpon or Digg. I’d appreciate it. :)



Join a million+ breath-taking readers: rss | email | twitter | +