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Following Your Heart

November 23, 2010

Feeling happy is about following your heart rather than trying to fit some arbitrary ideal. Often, the major mental blocks to living the life we want are concern over other people’s opinions and our tendency to catastrophise future events. We place so much importance on these projections that we stifle our souls and sacrifice our dreams to avoid negative judgment and criticism.

Perception

Does it feel stupid to you to be concerned about the perception of others when it is your own life and happiness at stake? To live the best years of your life letting your soul, love, passion, and purpose rot in a putrid, festering pile of mediocrity? To wait until you’re too old to enjoy what you always wanted to do, but never made the time? To waste the best years of your life following tradition instead of living your dream? To bypass the fun and opportunities in your life, then look back and wonder, “What if…” instead of embracing the opportunities and living them?

It feels stupid because it is stupid! You already know what you want to do. You aren’t waiting for the resources. You aren’t waiting for the time. You’re waiting for someone else to give you encouragement and permission. Stop it. You’re an adult, not a five-year-old. You don’t need anyone’s approval to live the way you want except your own. Quit fabricating excuses and just do what you want already!

I know what that fear of judgment feels like. I’ve felt it too. Recently. So recently in fact, that it’s taken me three weeks to decide to post this article for fear of perception. I recently returned from a month-long holiday around the USA. That trip gave me a good kick up the arse. It challenged some of my core beliefs, and I came face-to-face with the harsh realisation that I actually cared far too much about what other people thought. It changed my perspective on pretty much my entire life, but especially on Love…

Love

Love is one of my favourite subjects. It’s also the area of my life in which I harbour the most cynicism.

To quote George Carlin, inside every cynic is a disappointed idealist. I’m a romantic idealist at heart, but the experience of abuse has hardened my heart. As a result, I close myself off from positive and loving relationship possibilities. My cynicism means I approach love from a primarily logical standpoint. I analyse and rationalise my relationships until there is no mystery or beauty left.

At least, that was true until about a month ago.

I started my holiday by touring part of California with a platonic friend. This friend turned out to be the Love of my life – a truly beautiful soul who opened my heart and showed me how to Love again. He made me think, feel, question, grow, and want to be a better person – single-handedly blowing my model of viewing love as a function of time, effort, and social convention to smithereens.

The idea of loving and being loved so quickly and easily was certainly not an easy concept for me to accept and integrate. My heart and ego were screaming back and fourth like banshees:

Heart: “Yes! This person is perfect for you! Travel and learn languages with him! Do it. Do it! DO IT!”
Ego: “Yo, Princess Brainfart! Planet Earth is this way. Get your head out of the clouds. Haven’t you learned by now that love isn’t a fairytale? How about money? Security? Your career? By the way, has the minor logistical inconvenience of this connection managed to escape your attention? Here’s a straight-jacket and matching mouth gag in exactly your size. Put them on, shut up, finish your holiday, and take your place back in the rat-race.

The incongruence between my ego and my heart meant that I was wallowing in a perpetual state of indecision. Instead of showing appreciation and gratitude for the gift of Love and happiness that had entered my life, I was regarding it with wariness and suspicion. My heart was telling me one thing, but my ego kept focussing on all the reasons it wouldn’t work.

I was flipping the proverbial bird to the Universe.

I had found someone who was everything I had been searching for and more, and although my heart could accept that I could Love that quickly, my ego was struggling with the idea. It couldn’t see how it could work logistically. It feared that the feeling was one-sided. It feared that other people would think I was nuts.

My heart and ego played way too many exhausting sets of emotional tennis before I finally realised that my ego’s life strategy sucked. My heart knew what I really wanted to do was travel and learn new languages, and I wanted to do it with him.

It took me a while to admit that to myself. It sounded random, volatile, and just plain crazy, even by my standards. Who the hell decides to quit their job and just trot off to some random country where they don’t speak the language with someone from the opposite side of the globe that they’ve only just started seeing?! Apparently, that would be me. 🙂

Love is not nearly as complicated as we make it out to be. We rationalise love as being difficult and time-intensive because we need to cater for our ego’s insecurities. Love is simply a choice. The path you should choose is the path that makes you most happy. Following your heart is a simple concept, but one that is so hard to apply to your own life.

Career & Travel

Prior to my trip, I was planning to transfer to the UK for work next year as a means of funding travel through Europe and Egypt. I wanted to live in Berlin, Germany for a few months, immerse myself in the culture, and attend language school until I achieve conversational fluency. I wanted to tour Egypt because I’ve always been fascinated by Egyptian mythology.

Logically, moving to the UK to work made sense. I saw an overseas opportunity within my company that would fit my skills, be a good move career-wise, and maintain a good relationship with my employer whilst ensuring I maintained the security of a stable income.

The only problem is that I don’t just want to travel to work another full-time job. I really want to totally immersed in a new culture, embrace location independence and abolish the time famine that goes hand-in-hand with the traditional full-time work week.

My ideal solution would be to create sources of passive income through both technology and investments, while working flexible hours on a contractual basis without being bound to a particular location. I want to maintain the parts of my job that I love whilst extricating myself from the parts of the job that I don’t enjoy.

Living and working in the UK is certainly more appealing than maintaining my current trajectory, but it’s still not quite right for me. What’s right for me is choosing a language, choosing a location, and completely immersing in that culture. So that’s what I’m going to do – income or no income.

During my time away, I also felt a pull to help people understand themselves and assist them in nurturing positive, loving, and emotionally supportive relationships. When asked about my job, I told people about the work I do here on Climb the Rainbow instead of about my day job. I noticed a powerful shift in how people responded to me immediately. People were more energetic, positive, and genuinely interested in the value I had to offer. People opened up to me about their relationships very quickly – not just friends, but people I met randomly on public transport. I even had one person request a consultation with me to discuss his relationship within our first minute of conversation! I feel a connection with this path, but somehow I feel that the time is not right to pursue it just yet.

Clarity

This trip has achieved exactly what I had hoped – clarity on what I should do in order to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

For me, I’ve realised that happiness is having the freedom to follow the spring and the summer around the world – immersing myself in new cultures and languages with the person I Love and helping people to understand and see their relationships and themselves from new perspectives. This is what my heart calls for me to do over and above anything else…and for once, I’m going to follow it.

Are you?

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5 Responses to “Following Your Heart”

  1. Taz! I’m so glad you published this post! I love your writing, and the things you write about.. well, I feel like you’re taking the thoughts out of my head, basically. Keep doing this, by all means, it’s a crime to the world if you don’t 🙂 And reading here also reminded me of how awesome you are and how much fun we had. *huge heart-to-heart hug*

  2. Freakin awesome.

    I saw a gift card in Byron Bay last week…

    “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”

    Well done on getting the hell out of the race.

  3. Truly awesome to see you stepping out my friend. Keep it going. You have an amazing life ahead of you!

  4. We are sitting here in San Diego and have just read your blog. We are very happy to read you have announced your decision to follow your heart and pursue your dreams; to hell with the restraints of convention. The doors of personal growth, love, happiness, adventure and fulfillment are now open. Enjoy!

  5. Thanks everyone, I’m excited about this new path and I appreciate your support!

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