At the Crossroads of Heart vs. Mind
July 30, 2010 2 Comments
It was the summer of 1981 and I was a college student on a tight budget standing in a German train station. I stood at the crossroads of heart versus mind over a $35 train fare.
The words from President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech denouncing communism echoed in my heart:
Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.
All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin . . Ich bin ein Berliner. . .
That day, as on many days, my mind railroaded my heart. I should have followed my heart.
Although I saved the $35, I lost the immeasurable wealth of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Berlin Wall.
How many times has your mind led the way, led you down the logical, reasonable, safe path? How many times has your self-talk told you that you “can’t,” you “shouldn’t” when your heart told you “go for it!” Do you have regrets?
Most research on regret shows that people will decide not to act when they think that they are likely to regret that act in the future. This, of course, can be a good thing! If the negative consequences are likely to outweigh the positives, then the reasonable mind can block the path of the passionate, but ill-advised heart. However, other research shows that older, retirement-age people “almost exclusively regretted inactions.”
Looking back at my own life, I regret not what I have done, but what I haven’t done. It’s too late for me to do some things (like see the Berlin Wall), but every new day is a new opportunity to choose a new path.
The small, self-talk we have with ourselves can have the biggest results in our lives.
When you are at the crossroads of heart and mind, of action and inaction, try to look down the roads and see what you might regret not doing. Most of the time, just follow your heart.