Want to know a secret for enhancing what you see in life? It involves more than eyesight and more than your mind. It involves those things called emotions, otherwise known as "heart." Yes, there is a metaphorical connection between emotions and the heart. This heart, however, is not a physical, beating heart but is something that lies on the other side of logic. Let's explore!
Logic, heart, and emotions
Can you imagine a life lived without emotions? If you could live purely by logic, it would dehumanize you, and you may as well be a computer. No human being can live this way completely, including Joe Friday! Emotions affect every one of us, regardless of how much we favor logic.
"Don't let your brain interfere with your heart." Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
A great deal of research exists on how our emotions can affect the health of our physical hearts. Simply google "emotions and physical heart," and as of this writing, you will get more than 53 million results! But this article is not about that connection. No, it is about using the word heart in place of emotion.
Many researchers have studied how emotions influence our lives. You may have heard of Emotional Intelligence (EI), which is largely about how we interact with others and how well we know ourselves. Volumes of information and studies exist on the subject of EI. Yet most of us remain unaware of the influence of emotions on every part of our lives. Not to mention how our EI affects the lives of others.
Emotional Intelligence is a subject worth studying to understand yourself and others better. In the leadership and life coaching professions, we often help people move from only thinking about things to experiencing them. The person must incorporate their entire being, meaning their brain, body, and emotions, to accomplish this.
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." Helen Keller (1880-1968)
Real change in life involves the whole person, not just the ability to think analytically. Emotions provide valuable information outside of cold hard facts. It is in our emotions that we really live our lives.
The heart and emotions
We are emotional beings, and to deny that is to deny reality. But in truth, we are both thinking (rational) and emotional human beings.
"I wish I could make him understand that a loving good heart is riches enough, and that without it intellect is poverty." Mark Twain (1835-1910)
If we see things only with logical thinking, we see narrowly, through blinders, with limited perspective. When we see with our entire being, including our emotions, we see more broadly.
Sure, we can gain additional perspectives through thinking alone—yet without using more of who we really are, without incorporating our whole being, we will miss opportunities to broaden our perspectives in a meaningful way.
The first step to seeing more of yourself is to embrace both your rational thought and your heartfelt emotions. Anything less can severely restrict what you see and understand.
To think rationally requires setting aside emotions. To operate this way in the world means you focus only on the facts and what you can verify with your senses. Sometimes, this is the right approach. If your finances are in disarray, your bank account is empty, and you have maxed out your credit cards, then—despite how you feel about your situation—you need to be rational and make plans to rectify it.
If you allow emotions like fear to enter such a situation, they can overwhelm you and hold you back. Yet used properly, your emotions can propel you forward into a new plan that can create a solution.
Let's consider a simple thing you can do to observe how emotions drive your life. Think of an event that happened recently at work or home and look for the emotions involved.
For example, yesterday, I had a meeting to review some facts and figures for a project. While it seemed a straightforward affair, I see many emotions were involved in hindsight. They usually are.
Two of my colleagues disagreed about a particular "fact," and I could feel the tension in the room. I noticed it first in the person's tone of voice who thought the "fact" was incomplete. He made a good point. Yet the person who presented the information was up in arms trying to defend what he presented. While this was not a terribly high-conflict situation, it was easy to see the emotions involved.
Fortunately, each of these men had reasonable EI and came to an agreement. Had they not each been so emotionally attuned, there could have been a great deal of conflict over the matter. Thankfully this was not so!
Take another situation that happened to me recently. It flooded me with emotions. A man came into a mostly empty restaurant where my wife and I were having an early dinner and asked if I owned a white car of a certain make. I said yes, and he proceeded to tell me he had just backed into it!
The car was less than two months old! I intentionally parked in an empty section of the parking lot to keep my doors from getting dinged. My first reaction was not pleasant. I thought, "What kind of an idiot would back into a car in a nearly empty parking lot?"
Then it hit me. I had backed into a car before, too, and I wasn't an idiot. The gentleman seemed genuinely sorry. What could I do? After calming down, we exchanged insurance info and obtained a police report to ensure the repairs happened. Then, when there was nothing left to do, I went back to enjoying dinner with my wife.
Pay attention to your emotional attachment to whatever happens. Your preconceived notions can get in the way of the truth. This can take some practice, but it is a skill worth improving. Knowing when to curb your emotions and when to use them will help you handle difficult situations far better.
By paying attention to the emotions involved, you learn far more about what is happening than when you only see what appears on the surface. It's like the difference between reading a transcript of a meeting and being present to witness the participants' enthusiasm, resistance, and commitment.
Start noticing your emotions and others' emotions, and you will be amazed at what you learn and how it can change your life.
"You change your life by changing your heart." Max Lucado (1955-present)
The bottom line is to pay attention to both the facts and the words you hear or read, the tone of voice, the body language, and the atmosphere. The more you pay careful attention to each encounter with another human being, the more you'll notice how emotions underlie everything. Emotions are vital because they drive the outcome of almost everything in life!
To live a good, full life, get in tune with what your heart is telling you and heed the following wisdom from a great American animator, film producer, and entrepreneur:
"Let your heart guide you...it whispers so listen closely." Walt Disney (1901-1966)