Many people mistakenly believe that when thoughts and actions come from our hearts it means that we are somehow weak; or vulnerable to being taken advantage of; or that we lack conviction or “backbone.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

Intentional Thoughts and Behaviors From Your Heart

When I think about “From the Heart” these words come to mind:

  1. Compassion
  2. Empathy
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Humility
  5. Patience
  6. Tenderness
  7. Hope
  8. Gratitude, appreciation, or thankfulness

Let’s consider these eight behaviors related to our intentional thoughts and actions.

Compassion means we care enough to understand and respect the emotional state of another person; that we have a desire to show special kindness to those who are suffering; and reduce their suffering if we can.  Being compassionate refers specifically to our intentional behaviors; and behaviors that specifically seek to benefit others by alleviating or reducing their suffering.

Empathy is specifically related to our ability to recognize, perceive and f-e-e-l the emotions – specifically the pain or suffering – of another person. You’ve heard the expression, “…walking in another person’s shoes…”  Empathy is literally stepping outside of ourselves into the internal experience of another person; and having a kind of emotional resonance with them.

Forgiveness is the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical process of ceasing to feel anger, resentment, disappointment and disillusionment against or about another person; and anything that person might have done or said or NOT done or NOT said. An important component of forgiveness is the absence of your desire or your need to demand (or require) punishment, retribution or restitution so that you can be restored to wholeness.  Forgiveness doesn’t depend on the offender offering any form of apology; or even acknowledging that there was an offense; inadvertently or deliberately.

Humility is a combination of actions and words that are sourced from inside you; over a period of time; and is the result of having a deep sense of self-worth. One of the significant defining characteristics of a humble person is their unpretentious manner; and a kind of modesty. Humility is characterized by an underlying belief that she/he is no better or more important than anyone else.

Patience is your ability to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties; endure waiting with grace; tolerate delays or provocation; carry on without becoming annoyed or upset; and being determined enough not to be derailed in the face of adversity or perceived failure.

Tenderness is a warm expression of caring characterized by the willingness and ability to be vulnerable in the presence of another person. Tenderness is often associated with being affectionate and demonstrative.

Hope is an emotional state; a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope is NOT positive thinking.  Positive thinking refers to a systematic process used in psychology primarily to reverse pessimism.  Hope implies a certain amount of perseverance and the belief that a positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary. Another way to look at this is to say that Hope is passive as in a “wish” or a “prayer;” or active as in a plan or idea. Hope is often characterized by persistent, personal action to execute the plan or prove the idea

Gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness are positive feelings or attitudes that acknowledge a gift, a gesture or a benefit that one has received or will receive from another person. The research strongly demonstrates that people are more likely to experience gratitude when they receive a favor that is perceived to be (1) valued by them; (2) costly to the “giver of the favor”; (3) given by the “giver of the favor” with caring intentions; and (4) given gratuitously rather than out of a sense of obligation.

From Your Head or From Your Heart

Think of your personal resources as being 100%.  In a perfect world, 50% of your personal resources are cognitive – from your head; and 50% of your personal resources are experiential – from your heart.  The job of the cognitive part of Self is to think, assess, evaluate, make decisions, go to work, pay your bills, read the paper, plan for your future, remember to send your mother a birthday card – all are behaviors that occur as a result of your cognitive processes. The job of the experiential part of Self is to feel your feelings, be creative, intuitive, inspired, insightful, spiritual, intimate, passionate, joyful, compassionate — experiences that occur inside you.

The eight behaviors we are discussing here are within the purview of the experiential part of Self.  Take a moment and turn your attention back to yesterday.  How did you express your cognitive Self?  Here’s a clue—I did three things:  I wrote a letter to a friend whom I have not seen in a while to say that I was thinking about her; I accepted a dinner invitation at the last moment with friends; I drove a neighbor (recuperating from surgery) to her doctor’s appointment.  How did you express your experiential Self?  Your clue:  I did three things:  I took time to sit in my garden and enjoy my flowers; I helped a very pregnant woman with a toddler open the heavy door to the bank and walk in; and I spent time with a colleague talking about the changes he is seeing in his aging mother.

Which of the eight behaviors related to intentional thoughts and actions from your heart are easy or natural for you?  Completely foreign to you?

It’s All Up to You!

I invite you to explore your beliefs and attitudes about the eight behaviors related to intentional thoughts and actions.

  • What did your mother tell you about making decisions from your heart?
  • What did you father tell you about making decisions from your heart?
  • Are you drawn to people for whom one or more of these behaviors are a natural part of how they express themselves in the world?  Or do you avoid them?  Or feel contempt or disdain for them?
  • Have you been criticized, belittled or ridiculed for being compassionate?  For extending empathy; forgiveness; tenderness; or being grateful?
  • Do you believe that some or all of these behaviors are okay at home but NOT in the workplace?
  • How would your life be different if you experimented with being more compassionate; empathic; tender or forgiving?
  • What would you change if you decided to be more patient?
  • Are you willing to start and maintain a gratitude journal?
  • What would you have to give-up if you recognized the value of being and becoming compassionate; forgiving; patient, tender or grateful?

This is your life! You are the architect.  D-e-c-i-d-e today, to explore and experiment with being and becoming more and more of who you already are!  You’re worth it!

Remember, only YOU can make it Happen!

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