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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