How Do You Live a Life with Heart?

valentine family illust 001

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I work with E to diligently write the names of each of his class members on Valentine cards to celebrate the holiday this Friday, it raises a larger question. How am I living a life with heart? And how can I encourage my son to live a life with heart? As I reflect on individuals I admire, a “life with heart” helps describe them. I notice those individuals choose integrity, have a clear sense of purpose and strive for significant contribution. They also demonstrate empathy, love and care and value service. They have a strong sense of who they are, how they can use their strengths, understand their limitations and boundaries and advocate for what they need. Self-reflection and self-expression are present. Maybe it means having the courage to face your fears. The “life with heart” may mean not running from emotions or considering some “bad” or “negative” but accepting all emotions as facilitators of self-understanding and tools for decision-making and growth.

When I did a search on “life with heart,” website after website arose focused on heart failure, illness and disease. And although heart is the name of one of our vital bodily organs, it also remains a broadly accepted symbol representing love, emotion, passion, worth, empathy and more. Together, let’s give meaning to a “life with heart.” I’d like to hear from you.

How do you live a life with heart?

How do you encourage your children to live a life with heart?

Reply by this Friday, February 14th and I’ll post your responses on Valentine’s Day. My best to you and your loved ones as you go about living your lives with heart.

4 Comments on “How Do You Live a Life with Heart?

  1. I demonstrate open-hearted love, compassion and empathy with my granddaughter by being really and truly present with her. I think there is no better gift of love than to role-model complete presence with another.

    Tom Rausch *Leadership Beyond Limits, LLC* Leader and Coach to Leaders http://www.linkedin.com/in/tomrausch http://twitter.com/tcrausch ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ We help top leaders of organizations engage their employees to create sustainable success. Learn about the latest advances in employee engagement at: http://www.leadershipbeyondlimits.com

    • Yes! Being present and listening with empathy and acceptance is one of the greatest gifts we can give children. I agree! It’s also particularly powerful when it’s an adult other than a Mom or Dad. Kids need other adults who can be role models in their lives too. Thanks, Tom! Lucky Grandaughter!

  2. I agree with the need for complete presence. I have been building mindfulness practices into my life and my interactions with my children to try and model this. It seems like such an easy approach to life for them to pick up in the early years (4 and 7 years old).

    I also spend a lot of time modeling positive intent. I want my children to assume everyone is trying their best (including themselves!), and by bringing this up everywhere I see it, …I hope to train their inner selves to see the world this way too. When we see someone doing something we might want to judge, we talk about what might be getting in the way of that person being their best selves….despite striving for this.

    • Shannon,
      I love the idea of being conscious about how you view the people around you and whether you are observing their actions with a negative judgment or open-mindedness with an eagerness to learn and understand what they are going through. E has mentioned that a person or type of person is “bad” from seeing movies. It opens a door to conversation about the belief that all are good and are just motivated differently. Teaching mindfulness to little people is so important too — and challenging, I find! There are so many distractions competing for attention and such limited time for school age children after school. I do notice that being calm and quiet with my son helps both of us stay focused.

      Thanks for your terrific insights!
      Jennifer

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