A year into the pandemic, we’re reminded of how important it is to guard your heart.
Here we mean our metaphysical heart, our sacred center. Parker Palmer said it beautifully:
“I’m using the word ‘heart’ as they did in ancient times, when it didn’t merely mean the emotions, as it tends to mean today. It meant that center in the human self where everything comes together—where will and intellect and values and feeling and intuition and vision all converge. It meant the source of one’s integrity.”
So many of us these days have suffered anxieties, losses, hardship, or tragedies. All added on a baseline of busyness and burnout. With frazzled days and heavy loads. With negative self-talk judging harshly. With fear and uncertainty.
This year, our hearts have taken a beating.
The effects on our health, relationships, and work can be devastating.
So we must guard our hearts, preserving every ounce of hope, wonder, awe, gratitude, and love we can muster.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” -Proverbs 4:23 (King Solomon)
Why does heart matter so much?
We need it in our lives. We need it to stay grounded and faithful that we can survive, that we can learn the lessons life is offering.
We need it in our relationships, often frayed or neglected during hard times.
We need it at work, with opportunities to connect with colleagues also facing ghosts or demons.
We need it in our leadership, especially during hard times. In his adaptive leadership framework, Ron Heifetz of Harvard University encourages us to maintain a “sacred heart” and avoid numbing our soul with cynicism or defeatism.
How to guard your heart?
For starters, develop resilience through disciplined self-care. There are many possibilities, so choose the ones that resonate with you:
- Writing or journaling
Some of the most powerful heart defenses come bottled in larger themes: Live purposefully. Preserve your vitality. Stay connected to people. Serve others. Take time for renewal.
If your heart is asleep, dormant from years of neglect, reawaken it.
If your heart is closed, crack it open.
If your heart is cold, bring it warmth.
If your path forward is hazy, ask your heart to light the way. We see things with our heart that we can’t see otherwise.
Guard your heart.
Take the Traps Test
We all fall into traps in life. Sometimes we’re not even aware of it, and we can’t get out of traps we don’t know we’re in. Evaluate yourself with our Traps Test.
More Articles in this Series on the Common Traps of Living
- Breaking the “Trance of Unworthiness”
- Getting Good at Overcoming Fear
- Burnout and the Great Resignation
- Beware the Disease of More
- Golden Handcuffs—Stuck in a Job You Don’t Like?
- Are You Trapped by Success?
- The Conformity Trap
- Is Your Identity Wrapped Up Too Much in Your Work
- The Mental Prisons We Build for Ourselves
- Do You Have Margin in Your Life?
- The Trap of Deferring Dreams and Postponing Happiness
- The Trap of Caring Too Much about What Other People Think
- Tired of Settling? How to Light Your Life and Work on Fire
- The Problem of Going It Alone
- Feeling Behind? It May Be a Trap
- Choice Overload and Career Transitions
- The Comparison Trap
- Are You Drifting through Life?
- Are You Playing the Long Game?
Gregg Vanourek is a writer, teacher, speaker, and coach on personal and leadership development. He is co-author of three books, including LIFE Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives (a manifesto for integrating our life and work with purpose and passion) and Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations (called “the best book on leadership since Good to Great“). Take Gregg’s Traps Test (Common Traps of Living), check out his Best Articles, get his newsletter, or watch his TEDx talk. If you found value in this article, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps!