If I could pinpoint the one major change in my life I made that took me from being unhappy to living my dreams, it would be the decision to live from my heart and not my head. That simple decision, and that’s all it was – a decision, really changed everything. It took a while to understand it, trust it and integrate it effectively into my life, but once I did, absolutely everything changed.
You ever have that feeling where something is really irking you and you just can’t shake it? Maybe it feels specific, like a co-worker or a friend, it could be a goal you can’t quite reach or something bigger, a general sense of frustration and annoyance. It can be a feeling of discontent, frustration or even disappointment with yourself. I get that way when I feel stalled or stagnant like I’m not growing and achieving what I want when I want.
The bad thing about it is it sets off a chain reaction. Once that tiny seed of frustration is planted in your mind, you can’t help but think about it and the more you think about it, the more it grows, until all of a sudden you’re overrun with this weed of discontent that never used to be there. It drives you nuts, growing and growing, bothering you more and more. That small seed can grow into something that affects you in all aspects of your life, it can be overwhelming.
In those moments it’s easy to feel lost like the problem is so big it is blocking you. It sits inside, telling you that you won’t be happy until you achieve whatever it is you’re fixated on. You won’t be happy until you lose the weight. You won’t feel good until you get the promotion. You won’t be satisfied until… until…. until. Sometimes ‘until’ knows no limits.
I’m not sure if you noticed but all those thoughts are negative, that’s how you know it’s your head talking to you, not your heart. Your head can be really mean, it can spit out fear, doubt, anger, frustration, jealousy and a general feeling of distrust in yourself. Your head loves to tell you all the things you cannot do, it loves to chime in with unsolicited logic, providing you with all the reasons why you can’t, shouldn’t or won’t do something.
While those thoughts can feel overwhelming, that’s all they are… thoughts. They aren’t real, they’re warning signs our brain is hard-wired to throw up, just to make sure we don’t do something silly that could seriously damage us. While that’s really helpful when you’re crossing a street or driving a car, it’s not so useful when you’re trying to live a life you love and go after your dreams.
The solution? Listen to your heart instead. You’ll know you’re listening to your heart because it’s loving and kind, it’s full of dreams and hopes, all the things you can and will achieve if you listen to it. It’s reassuring, comforting and bursting with wonder, kindness, and love.
It can seem impossible to make the switch from head to heart, I know because I’ve been there many times. Before I left my job I was all kinds of terrified, overrun by fear, doubts and a million, ‘what-if’s.’ But listening to your heart instead of your head is easier than you might realise, all you have to do is make the decision to listen.
Let go of the negative, remove those negative thoughts and limiting actions. Anything you’re doing, thinking or feeling that doesn’t align with what you want and brings no positivity into your life, just get rid of it. Take some time to do a stock take on yourself and find all the things you’re trying to control and just let them go. Your head sounds and feels like control, your heart sounds and feels like trust.
Take your emotions out of it and listen to your heart because the more you listen, the louder it gets and the louder it gets the more you learn to trust it and let it guide you. Doing that changed my life and now, in every moment, I tune into my heart for guidance, especially when it comes to big moments and hard decisions.
If you knew me 7 years ago you’d have known a very different person. My goals and dreams were all fear-based, I wanted to buy a house and have kids and continue on my office career path forever, climbing the ladder and earning more and more money. My head got me there, it took me to that point because it filled my head with doubt and fear. Thankfully I learned to listen to my heart and now it sets my dreams.
Even now, my dreams and desires are always changing and evolving. It’s okay for what you want from your life to change year to year, month to month. By paying attention to what your heart wants and really fine-tuning those desires, you’re already paving the path to getting them.
If you’re feeling sad, frustrated or angry, take some time out to find all those thoughts within you. Really pay attention to them and recognise them for what they are – head-based thoughts that have no place ruling your life. I like to take a moment to, mentally, thank them for showing up and making sure I stay alive, then let them go and place my awareness back on my heart.
One great trick I use to help me ‘snap out of it’ if I’m in a particularly bad downward spiral or finding myself wandering back toward head-based thinking, is to list all the things in my life I’m thankful for. I just create a mental list of things I love, things I’m thankful for, a thing I’m excited about and just things that make me feel good in general. Those feelings of love come from your heart, bringing you back to heart-based living.
There’s a great story or quote I read once, I did some research to find out where it came from and it’s apparently a ‘fake’ Buddha quote. Still, I love the sentiment:
A man said to the Buddha, “I want Happiness.”
Buddha said, first remove “I”, that’s ego,
then remove “want”, that’s desire.
See, now you are left with only Happiness.
Happiness is within us all and, to obtain it, all we have to do is focus on it. Banish those negative thoughts, quieten your mind, let go of all the things that don’t serve you, stop trying to control things you can’t and tune into your heart instead. If a simple act like that can change my life, it can change yours too.
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Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.