Mind Thinks, But Heart Feels

A man waiting to make a right turn into a small grocery store parking lot noticed that only two spaces remained. He saw a woman waiting to turn left into the same lot. Knowing it could be some time before oncoming cars would allow her to turn, when the light changed, he purposefully held back traffic and motioned that she should enter the lot ahead of him. She did.

The woman was first to arrive at the two adjoining spaces. Instead of pulling into one space she intentionally parked in the middle of both. Shocked, the man stopped his car and got out.

“Excuse me, ma’am. Will you please move your car so I can park too?”

“No, someone will scratch it.”

“But I let you turn ahead of me and there are no more parking places. You’ve taken the last two.”

“So what? It is my right.”

The man found another parking place and followed the woman into the store. He was furious and shouted at her. She completely ignored him and went about her business.

Each day you have opportunities to practice remaining aligned with your heart’s loving, compassionate, and purposeful values or to stoop to the standards other people set for themselves. To consistently have the best life requires acting aligned with your heart. This requires accepting your mind is not the smartest part of you, no matter how much it tells you it is. The rationalizations and justifications your mind will create to defend ego-boxing behavior cause stress, frustration, and disappointment that can get you into trouble.

When we slow down to think about what we are thinking while we are thinking it, we learn our mind is a tool. It is great for balancing our checkbook, filling out an income tax report, or working through statistical analysis. It also comes in handy when reading a map, recalling items we need from the grocery store, or learning how to use a remote control. Our mind thinks, and with our heart’s wisdom we have the awareness to question those thoughts.

Is what we are thinking real, true, or important? Do our thoughts justify actions that can hurt us or someone else? Are our thoughts attempting to limit the cooperative, inclusive, and virtuous motivations of our heart?

Slow down. Think about what you are thinking. Keep emotionally connected to and responsible for the steady stream of mind chatter. Become aware of how your thoughts subtly limit you. Master a mind that has a mind of its own by learning to identify and change limiting, negative thoughts to positive thoughts that support you in creating the life of meaning you really want.

Accept What Is, to Create What You Want to Be

After two months at a job selling advertising for a small, family-owned newspaper, I was fired. There was no warning. There was no indication my performance was less than acceptable. In fact, I had received praise for increasing ad revenue. It did not make sense to be abruptly terminated. Regardless of how much I wanted to identify the reason, no one in the company returned my calls. I became angry and depressed. Without accepting the reality that sometimes things happen with no logical explanation, I was stuck, unable to move on. For the next few months I did little to find a new job.

Many years ago I dated an alcoholic. I did not recognize the condition in the beginning, but over time it became clear as the incidents of intoxication began to add up. After each occurrence there was an apology, a request for forgiveness, and a promise it would not happen again. No matter how much I wanted the drinking to stop, it did not. No matter how much I prayed for follow-through on the promise to seek help, there was none.  I chose to believe what was promised, rather than accepting the repeated actions as proof of what was actually true. The result is I stayed in the abusive relationship far too long.

A family I am acquainted with lost a child to a tragic accident. Before the accident, the father was a pillar of strength. He was also kind, compassionate, and had a positive outlook on life. Over the next few years he sank deeper into depression, clinging to what he thought should, would or could have been. Blame was cast, lawsuits were filed and a focus on revenge erased the memories of his once joyful life. Without the ability to forgive and deal with the tragedy, he was not able to be thankful for the joy life still held for him. He died a frail and bitter man unable to move on.

How much precious time do we waste wanting other people or situations to be different from how they are? Positive change begins by honestly looking at how unreasonable it is to suffer under the false impression we have the power to control or manipulate other people or the negative, frustrating, inconvenient or heartbreaking situations we encounter in life.

Maybe someone leaves us for another or just ends the relationship. We have two choices. We can be angry, dwelling on what we think should be, but isn’t. Or we can mend our heart by learning from the experience, feeling our sadness and picking ourselves up to move on. We choose to exchange a fantasy of the past and what “should be” for the opportunity to create a better “what is” reality in the present. This same formula works with whatever situations life throws at us.

Traffic jams and other delays are a frequent part of life. We do not receive the job we badly want and need. We realize we are in relationship with an abuser. We become conscious we are the one with a problem. The people and pets we love are sometimes taken away from us through illnesses or tragic accidents.

Relationships end. Our affection for another is not reciprocated. We slip and break an ankle. Our car is damaged by a hit-and-run driver. We lose our wallet or keys or our purse is stolen. Our luggage becomes lost or our flight is delayed or cancelled. We are diagnosed with cancer. Our parents become ill or their behavior radically changes. Someone is rude to us.

No amount of anger, yelling, worry, or desire for revenge changes what is real in the moment at hand. Only by accepting the present circumstance for what it is, rather than what we think it should, would, or could be, do we help ease the stress and upset that comes from the misconception we can control or change people and the uncontrollable and unchangeable situations of life.

When something happens in life that upsets your plans, take a deep breath. Slow down. Count to five. Relax into the truth that only by accepting what is real in the present can you take the necessary action to leave an abusive relationship. Or rebound from losing a job. Or seek help for an addiction. Or deal with an illness. Or appropriately honor the memory of a loved one.

Change begins when you accept what is, so you can begin to create what you want to be.

To Know When Enough is Enough

Lao Tzu said, “If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled.  If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

I spent many years looking to other people for fulfillment. I was not grateful to be a unique individual. I wanted to be like everyone else, to blend into the crowd, to be accepted, to finally receive the validation I needed.

For too long, I went along with the idea of success as defined by my peers and society, which meant having attained wealth, position and honors. In order to be a success, I got a good education. Then I landed a series of respectable jobs with great benefits and, at some of them, a big corner office. Although I did not dislike my jobs, I was not content. My days were jam-packed with work, leaving little time for anything else. My overcrowded schedule cost me relationships with my partner, friends, pets and myself. I had no time to really enjoy life. I was too busy being a success.

But how successful are we if we are not grateful for each and every blessing bestowed on us?  Dr. Vincent Ryan said, “The secret to life is to know when enough is enough.”

In our current society where happiness is tied to things the attitude of bigger is better, more is better, newer is better, younger is better, does not leave much room for being satisfied with what we have.

Being grateful for all we have is a way of walking through life.  True gratitude is not a temporary state of mind but a lifestyle with many benefits. Joy and fulfillment are a result of gratitude. And, researches are discovering our physical and mental health are also now being tied to our thankfulness.

We’re more optimistic when we’re grateful which boosts the immune system. Researchers now believe people who are optimistic maintain higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system. Being grateful feels good and impacts others positively as well.

This week I challenge you to make a list of what you are grateful for. Not just your family, friends, job, pets, home.  Think of those things you tend to take for granted like indoor plumbing, paved roads, clean drinking water, heat, electricity, the internet, immunizations, grocery stores.

Everything we do in life is a results of a choice we make.  Having a grateful attitude is a choice to see our glass full to overflowing.  I guarantee when you lead with a grateful heart life responds.


Do you believe people starring in fast-food commercials actually eat fast food on a regular basis?

Do you think your 50-year-old wrinkles will go away and you’ll look like the 18-year-old in the magazine face-cream commercial?

Do you believe you’ll finally be happy when you get the big car, fancy house, cool wardrobe, and hot partner?

While there is supposed to be truth in advertising guess what, advertisers lie.

Sure they do with photo shop, by hiring skinny actors who NEVER eat fast food, through deception, altered imagery, and by leading us to believe things are sexy.  How stupid do they think we are?  Pretty stupid because we’re buying their lies hook, line and sinker. The woman who is wearing the leather mini-skirt does not come with the car you purchase. Dying your grey hair will not have young hot chicks knocking down your door. One fast-food meal packs more calories, fat, sodium, sugar, and preservatives than those commercial actors eat in a month. Those 18 year old cosmetic model photos have been doctored to the point their facial features are perfect. Not to mention the 100,000 dollar lighting system and high-paid photographers. But hey we buy the lies, never once questioning how come our butt can’t fit into our pants since we started the fast-food routine?

How come our 50 year old wrinkles don’t magically disappear? How come all those things we surround ourselves with don’t make us jump for joy 24-hours a day. People who sell us stuff will do anything to sell us stuff.  We have to be smarter and ask ourselves if it’s too good to be true then it is.  Happiness, personal satisfaction and fulfillment in life come from what we put into our hearts – pleasant memories, being helpful and kind, self-respect, family, friends, what we do to give back – not how we look, how much money we make or what size we wear.

The time has come to be honest with ourselves about the dishonesty of the consumeristic society in which we are living. We must be the ones who change this by educating ourselves, so we don’t fall for the next tonic salesman who pulls into town.

Think for yourself because when it comes to selling, advertisers, newscasters, and politicians all have swamp land they are eager to unload. We must be smarter than to think miracles come in the form of sexy, or fast, big and shiny things. The time has come to stop selling ourselves so short.