Monday, June 30, 2008

Think with your heart

I am back home after a few days in the beautiful high country, with rivers full of water from the snow melt. Some snow still persisted as we increased elevations on the trails. The nights were cold and the days were glorious. I really value time away, time to leave my routines behind and live in the moment. When I got home, I kept myself "on vacation"for several more days, avoiding phones and meetings.

While catching up with my life and working my way through a stack of papers, I came upon some suggestions about how to take good care of ourselves. Many of these are obvious things that we know and still find difficult to actually do:
1. Have more fun.
2. Remember to get some sun (just enough and not too much).
3. Enjoy good, healthy foods.
4. Get plenty of rest.
5. Move your body.
6. Focus renewing energy on your relationships.
7. Think with your heart.

Number seven is the one that gave me pause. Of course, all of the other things are important, but if we don't think with our hearts, we may be missing a critical essence for a full, healthy life. Thinking with the heart is about considering: What do you love? What really brings you joy? What do you care about? Studies have shown that when our positive emotions are "in charge", guiding our daily choices, our immune system is strengthened. We have more energy to sustain us through difficult times. Our outlook continues to focus on the possibilities and we are motivated to get things done. We are willing to try new things. Our attitude is more hopeful.

What a gift this can be for children! When we think with the heart, we are more likely to consider all of a child's needs, not only physical needs, but emotional ones as well. We don't focus only on what they are doing, but how they might be feeling. The goal isn't to get the best grades, but to feel energized by learning, especially learning about those things that excite.... dinosaurs, space travel, computers, friendships, writing stories, whatever. Yes, we want children to be kind, cooperative, and respectful. But sometimes we ignore the inner child as we focus on behavior. Children seem to think with the heart automatically, and yet we do our best to make them unlearn this. Stop! A person's EQ - emotional quotient - is at least as important as their IQ, maybe even more so.

The world would be better served if more of our leaders, if we all would think with our hearts!

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