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Everything you do, do it from the heart. Otherwise, there’s really no point doing it at all.

I’ve always done my best to do things from the heart. Even before there was Facebook and the accompanying pressure to create a “personal brand,” I’ve almost always gone out of my way to do things because I feel in my heart that it’s the right thing to do and not because it’s the right thing to do according to the moral fashion of the day.

There have been times when I didn’t follow what my heart said in certain situations. And during those times, I almost always ended up in trouble. But most of the time, I tune in to my heart—which is very much a physical thing as it is spiritual—and go along with what it tells me to do, even when it doesn’t make sense to do so.

It didn’t really make sense to choose a career working from home writing content for websites that only cared about keyword placement and density more than 10 years ago. But going down this path has taught me so much about online marketing, how it’s evolving, and how it’s going to pan out in the future—something that people coming in from the corporate world are now scrambling to learn because, all of a sudden, working from home is the new normal.

And it didn’t really make sense to start dating a guy I had known for just a little more than a month. After all, I had been jumping from one failed relationship to the next just several months ago. There really wasn’t a lot of proof that I had learned from my failures enough to get into a romantic relationship again. But this guy and I have been together for more than eight years now and, in truth, nothing else makes me feel more alive than simply being with him. Well, nothing except for when I’m writing, learning, creating.

And it doesn’t really make sense to focus on myself just a little bit more during this time. After all, we’re right smack in the middle of a pandemic. Political uprisings are everywhere. More and more people who have been silenced simply for being born with a certain skin color or sexual orientation are finding their voices. It just doesn’t sound right to be just a little bit more selfish, to care just a little less, to go a little bit more in, does it?

There’s so much pressure from all sides to behave a certain way.

Wear a mask and you’re sheeple.

Don’t wear a mask and you’re a plague-monger.

Insist on driving your own car for physical distancing and you don’t care about the environment.

Celebrate the decrease in pollution and you’re romanticizing the pandemic.

Share your opinion about injustices and your opinion is wrong—unless your opinion agrees with them.

Keep your opinion to yourself and you’re part of the problem.

Doesn’t it feel like you’re being pulled apart into a million different directions at once? Like you’re being torn into several tiny pieces just to let others feel good about the infallibility of their opinions? Like you’re such a bad, bad person for not being able to make everyone happy at the same time?

You can get lost in the noise for a while. I know I have. I’ve never felt so much shame and guilt for not subscribing to the trendy opinion of the moment. And that’s saying much for a recovering people-pleaser who’s spent a good portion of her life bending over backwards just to be loved and accepted by others.

Eventually, you get to snap out of it. You have to. Otherwise, you lose yourself again trying to make other people happy. And the only way to do that is simply to go back to the heart. It’s the only safe space you know you can keep coming back to when the world outside wants to pull you apart. It’s the only part of you where you know you’re held, cradled, and supported by a power that nothing outside of you can overcome.

And, often, the heart doesn’t make sense at all. Right now, it makes sense to donate more money to charity and talk about human rights on social media and demand that people wear masks, but my heart tells me otherwise. It makes sense to be a little bit more selfless, a little bit less selfish, but, crazily enough, I feel a strong urge to focus just a little bit more on myself. Block out the world just a little bit more. Follow my dreams just a little bit more. Be more me just a little bit more.

Maybe the heart is simply fucked up like that. Or maybe we’ve been too conditioned into believing in the rightness of a certain world order that anything else looks and sounds wrong to us.

And the really annoyingly amazing thing about it? It’s that I’ve always known that the only way to change the world is to change yourself. To bring out your best self, which is simply nothing more than your truest self. To follow your dreams, the ones you know in your heart were meant for you. To focus on the things that make you feel alive, the things that light up your very soul. After all, you don’t have much to give when you don’t allow yourself to receive.

Donating to charity? Feeding the poor? Fighting tyrants? That’s all world-changing stuff, but if and only if that’s what you feel in your heart you have to do. Otherwise, you become nothing more than a puppet on a string, performing on a small stage to an audience you’ve been programmed to please.

The good news about it is that many people are starting to shed their old programming. Instead of cowering inside their homes because of a pandemic, they’re buckling down to work on the things they’ve always wanted to work on but have always put off because they thought there were more important things.

Haven’t you noticed? People are baking cakes. They’re tending gardens. They’re harvesting local coffee beans and selling cold brew by the liter. They’re learning to dance and paint and ride a bicycle. They’re playing with their dogs more. They’re writing the novels that were always inside their heads. They’re chasing sunsets and waterfalls. They’re consciously making more effort to spend time with the people they love.

People are beginning to turn on their light. They’re starting to listen to their hearts. They’re turning to their true selves. That’s just about the most selfish thing they can do for themselves. That’s just about the most selfless thing they can do for the world.

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