Today I took a field trip to one of my favorite places on the planet: Barnes & Noble! (I realize that answer may be more than underwhelming to most of you, but thousands of books and a Starbucks under one roof turns me on...don't judge me!) Anyway, I picked up a book called "The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die" by John Izzo, Ph.D. At first I just picked it up because the title sounded slightly intriguing, but once I started flipping through it, I couldn't put it down. The first secret the author mentions is following your heart and being true to yourself. Initially, I found myself thinking "Duh, who doesn't know that in life you should follow your heart?" But as I continued reading and reflecting I realized that while I had heard this nugget of wisdom time and time again, I couldn't honestly say I was applying it to every aspect of my life. According to the author, the key is to "live with intention" and consistently and regularly ask yourself three critical life questions:
1. Am I following my heart and being true to myself in every situation?
2. Is my life focused on the things that really matter to me?
3. Am I being the person I want to be in the world?
Before I could answer any of these questions, I had to pause and think about exactly what "following your heart" means. It could mean doing work that suits your deepest interests, being true to yourself in the kind of life you choose, being honest about what you want, and taking time to listen to the small, inner voice that tells you if you are missing the mark of your deepest desires. After pondering all these things, I realized that for the most part, I am being true to myself and focusing my life on the things that really matter to me-making a difference in the lives of young people, giving back to my community, and challenging myself to grow physically, mentally and emotionally.
While I can definitively say that I'm being true to myself in all these areas, my personal relationships could use some work. I find that in my relationships with others (family members, friends, and romantic partners) I'm not always true to myself. Many times, I've found myself settling for situations that ultimately don't line up with my deepest desires for myself, because I'm trying so hard to satisfy the other person. Somewhere along the line, my psyche adopted the idea that it is better to ignore what's in my heart than risk having someone walk out of my life. But the more I think about it, the more I recognize that following my heart is an urgent journey, and the people who really belong in my life will gladly go along for the ride; the ones who don't will eventually be left behind in the dust.
And to think, this whole epiphany began with a book and a cup of coffee...see why I love Barnes & Noble? ;-)