When I talk about following my heart and doing what feels right it may sometimes sound like life becomes a cakewalk, an easy and sunny path you walk down without a care in the world.
The reality couldn't be further from the truth.
Your heart wants you to grow, to be challenged, to face difficulties that seem insurmountable. It wants to nudge you closer and closer to the edge of oblivion, to hold your hand when you're unable to walk and then slowly let it go, challenging you to walk on your own.
It does this with love, the same way a mother holds her child's hand as she's learning to walk, guiding the her to grow to new heights and new potential, encouraging the child to risk what seems like everything, and doing so because the mother knows through experience that falling is part and parcel of living.
But not all difficulty is created equal and not all challenge is meaningful.
It's difficult to climb a hundred stairs, but the meaningfulness of that difficulty changes dramatically when you're climbing those hundred stairs to save someones life. You can climb stairs all day and night and they won't mean as much as that one sprint to save a life.
It might be stressful to manage a team of people and tackle a big project, but the meaningfulness of that project and the worthiness of that stress changes dramatically when the project you're taking on is aimed at accomplishing a goal that, when reached, changes someones life for the better or leaves the world in a better state than you found it.
No matter how many meaningless projects you accept and no matter how many pointlessly stressful situations you face, you can be sure that neither are making you a better person. They're not helping you grow and they're not helping the world become a better place, no matter how much pain you endure.
Your ego wants you to believe that all challenge and difficulty has meaning, that all sources of stress have value and purpose. Your heart intuitively knows that this isn't true. It knows that without spending your time doing things that actually have meaning and purpose behind them, you have no reason for existing.
Your heart is allergic to things that are meaningless, so wear your heart on your sleeve. Put it right out there for the whole world to see. Let it guide you. Let it take you wherever it takes you. Trust it no matter how risky or how illogical it may seem. A true heart calling will always bring you to a place that's worthy of the challenges you face.
If you follow your heart, if you give it your trust and let it guide you, it will lead you to your purpose for existing. Life won't be easy. You won't get through unscathed. You'll fall down and face challenges that seem insurmountable, but every single challenge you do face, every fall and every scratch, will be worth it. It will be meaningful.
If you follow your heart, every challenge you face will make you a better person and for that you'll grow to love your life.
Inspiring essay, Raam. Thanks! 🙂
You’re most welcome, Amrita. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it. 🙂
I used to see the difference between doing meaningful acts and meaningless acts. Now all I see is God in everything I do.
That’s a good way to see your actions, Sue. I believe that we’re responsible for our actions and therefore responsible to use our intelligence when deciding how to use our limited time.
I mostly have trouble relating to people on the surface, but since you live in the rabbit hole, I understand you completely, lol
Thanks for this one Raam. You echo my thoughts which is always encouraging me to, as my late great uncle put it, “stick to my guns.”
At this very exact persice moment my heart has pushed me into a very unique and unusual situation for me, where I have to cope with challenges I’ve always been curious about but never been brave enough to experience: a brief stint of street life.
It aint so bad, Singapore would have to be the best city in the world to do this, being a very stable and comfortable temperature and relatively crimeless. I have a little money and a ticket home, I’m just making it stretch by hanging out on the peaceful promenade in the early hours, sipping caffeinated acid in Starbucks and meditating under the bridge. I seem to be functioning well on very little sleep (it’s only two days so far, embarking on my second night tonight).
I walked out on my hosts when I found out they don’t really like or trust me, even though they were the ones who said I’d have a place to stay when I came over. I have a tendency to turn around and walk when I realise I’m not wanted or needed. In this case that’s what pushed me into the first night of wandering.
The point is I am very much following my heart right now. I know this experience is what I need somehow and I should avoid relying on friends for at least a bit. I’m longing for the comfort of the old life I left, where literally everything a person needs is magically provided – but I left that life for a reason. I even received an offer to return to an even extra magical “new” version of my old live (house provided until forever), but I’m not going there. Seems like a lot of people want me to do this or do that. They don’t understand what it means.
In truth I am a little worried at what the future holds. I believe the most important ingredient in creating a future is hope: that can push you into favourable situations and keep you smiling.
As long as I don’t smell.
PS Anyone need WordPress work/design?
Ali, I love the adventure you’re on, not only because you’re roaming around Singapore ‘homeless’ but because you’re recognizing the value of the ‘comforts’ you had (and have available to you, should you choose that) and that you can see your own choices through a clear (or clearer) lens of self-reflection. Your walking out on your hosts when you realized that environment wasn’t conducive is evidence that you know not only what you want, but what you, in your heart, actually need.
I’d say don’t worry so much about the future. If you’re truly following your heart and what feels right and true for you, the future only holds good things for you. The more you worry about the future, the more difficult it will be to allow yourself to walk the path your heart is asking you to walk. Trust in now, in the present, in where you are, and embrace the fluid, unlimited and unwritten potential of the future. You could be anywhere a year from now. Think about it… a few months ago, did you know you’d be in Singapore today? A few days ago, did you know you’d be wandering around Singapore sleeping in parks? And yet there you are.
You’re right in that the most important ingredient in creating a future is hope. I believe another ingredient is trust (some call it ‘faith’, but I feel the word faith sometimes implies a sense of hopelessness or lack of control over situations). Trust that the universe, left to its own devices, is preprogrammed to end well, to turn every ending into a good one, every event into a meaningful series of actions that leads somewhere better than where you were.
Such a wonderful post… Identifying the crux of what pulls us as humans to be forever entangled within each-other’s lives craving the meaning of existence out of every experience.
The important aspect being meaning… deriving meaning out of experiences being the nature of the heart…
At the end of Life of Pi, Pi says, “Which story did you prefer?”… and our hearts prefer the longer story because we crave the richness of our experiences as that’s what provides meaning… not facts.
So eloquently written and put Raam… Life is meant to be loved fully! 🙂
Ash, thanks so much. 🙂 Your reference to the ‘Life of Pi’ movie is perfect: I laughed at that part of the movie because I remember feeling how so very true it was. We’re designed to seek meaning from the things we do, even if that meaning is mundane (or non-existent and made-up!).
One of my favorite things to do when I’m people-watching (or car-watching) is to wonder where all those people are going, what is motivating them to do what they do? I think it’s easy to get caught up doing things not because they genuinely feel meaningful, but because we’ve given up questioning their meaning. (“They must be meaningful if everybody else does them, right?”)
Ahh… ” but because we’ve given up questioning their meaning. “. You’re right… essentially that means losing a sense of Awe and Wonder with the world. Losing a sense of understanding the Why. Awe and our abilities to crave cosmic significants in our lives was shown recently to be a biological advantage that evolved. I think you’ve seen this, but it’s a great video on that topic. The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck:
I love this: “Our desire to understand brings exquisite pleasure… and feeds our exploratory voyage, our scientific inquiry, our technological development, and even our poetic self-regard..”
The heart of everything is our motivations though right?… Which begins with our intention? Which begins with a thought?
I actually had not seen that video yet — thank you for pointing me to it! The heart of everything is indeed within the motivation, but it does all begin with thought. But where does thought come from? 🙂
Personally I feel like it originates in the energy behind them. The energy it took to create it in the first place. This is also why persistent thoughts tend to have more impact in our lives because we keep feeding those thoughts energy. It’s why positive psychology in many ways works… we can “clean” our minds one way by just endlessly filling it with positivity and not allowing anything negative in. Mantras in many ancient traditions I feel like served this same purpose. Because thoughts and the weight behind them with how much energy has been put into them holds so much value and impact in our world… there’s a reason why “Intentions” are so powerful. They’re basically action-oriented and direct thoughts as opposed to reflective/passive thoughts. Intentions allow us to accomplish something and be clear about where we’re sending out our energy into the world.
We’ll have to meet for tea somewhere on this planet and discuss this further something though. I have many “thoughts” about this running around in my head 🙂
But not all intentions are action-oriented. Intentions can be passive too, and I think perhaps most intentions are passive (which is why nothing gets done). One can have good intentions, even brilliant, world-changing intentions, but that’s not enough to follow through.
I’d love to meet somewhere in the world and chat over tea sometime. 🙂
This is a great one. Reaching the edge meaningfully is most important because that’s what makes life worth living.
Right. It’s like death: If you fell off a cliff because you were climbing a mountain to get access to a case of beer, your death would be seen as having less value than someone who died climbing the same mountain to rescue a stranded hiker. That’s probably a crude analogy (and I feel that all life has meaning) but the reality is that yes, reaching the edge meaningfully is important. If we push ourselves to the limits of our potential in selfish pursuits (money, power, fame, etc.), we’ll reach the end and realize that pursing different challenges that helped change the world instead (service, progress, humanitarianism, etc.) would’ve made our life that much more meaningful.