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8 Signs You’re Not Following Your Heart When You’re Living

8 Signs You’re Not Following Your Heart When You’re Living

If you want a happy, fulfilling, and enjoyable life, you have pick the path that makes your heart sing.

This may sound simple, but if you’re anything like I used to be, your mind is such a chatterbox about what ‘looks good’ or ‘opens the most doors’ or ‘looks good on paper’ that your mind drowns out the voice of your heart. You make choices based on what sounds reasonable instead of what you are passionate about. When you do this, you’ll find that one day you wake up and realize that, despite having a life that looks pretty successful, you are feeling rather numb inside.

Is this you? Here are 8 signs that you are not following your heart and need to start again.

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1. You have others make important decisions for you.

If you don’t know or don’t like what your heart is telling you, you designate someone else to make important decisions for you. Should I go on a second date with Ella? Should I go to law school or join this non-for-profit? This way you don’t need to deal with your heart at all and can always blame the other person if things go wrong. The only problem here is that you are no longer the master engineer of your life. In the end, it is far more fulfilling to make all of your own choices, ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ and take whatever consequences come your way. That is what it means to be alive.

2. You are ‘succeeding,’ but feel…nothing.

You have worked for months to get that project, engagement, or club membership. But now that you have it, you don’t feel the wave of joy that you had predicted. You are on to the next project. This likely means one of two things: either your heart wasn’t in the project, or your inner do-a-holic took over. Regardless, take a minute to savor a project when you complete it. Ask yourself, “Does this make me happy? Why?” Give your heart a chance to share its opinion. And be okay with the answer if it’s, “I just am not that excited about it!”

3. You think in terms of pros and cons lists.

The mind loves to make lists. The heart does not: it just feels. So if you find yourself making or justifying a decision with a pros and cons list, consider that you have not consulted your heart. It’s okay to make these lists, but they have to be used in partnership with the ‘gut’ feeling from your heart.

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4. You are a chameleon.

You are proud of your ability to fit in anywhere and get along with anyone, which is a talent, for sure. But in masterfully adapting to new environments, you lose sight of who you are. Consider that if you fit in everywhere, maybe it’s time that you didn’t.

5. You have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.

The old cliché is usually true. If you are not looking forward to what the day holds in store for you, then odds are that there is something blocking your heart from getting excited about it. This could be something as simple as an issue that needs to be resolved before your heart can sing again, or something as all-encompassing as the fact that your job is not the right one for you. Start to investigate. Ask your heart what you are dreading about your day, and take action.

6. You are always thinking about what you really want.

You are dating John, but thinking about Ted. You are working at a bank but wish you were advising in Washington. You need to figure out if these thoughts are a ‘grass is always greener’ mentality, or if these thoughts really are your heart trying to tell you that you need to make different choices. You can do this by taking three actions per week that investigate what you really want. Pay attention to your heart. If the more you learn, the more you want the new path, then your heart is likely telling you to make a change.

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7. You’re afraid to stand out.

You know what your heart is telling you to do (“Tell your boss that you have a great idea for the project!”), but you are afraid of being wrong, looking bad, or being rejected. So you zip up and don’t say anything. This may be a safe approach to life, but it sure won’t win you any awards for happiness. Consider that in order to follow your heart, you are going to have to stand out.

8. You are not using your natural passions.

You may be good at what you do, but being good at something doesn’t necessarily mean you are passionate about it. Think back on the 20 happiest moments of your life. What do they have in common? In there you will find your passions. Are those passions present in your current job? In your relationship?

The first step to finding your heart is to admit that you are not listening to it in a certain aspect of your life. Then you can get curious and start to give your heart the air time that it needs.

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Which points on this list describe you? Write me a note and share.

Featured photo credit: Happy kid is happy/Nicko Witjatmoko via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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