Our heart or our mind.
Which should we listen to?
One enables us to feel, connect and relate with others while the other forces us to judge and critique others’ actions against our own beliefs.
Which should we trust?
One is blind, fragile, bruised and vulnerable while the other is wise, cautious, proactive and protective.
Which do we follow?
Growing up, and even now, I have the interesting experience of having parents that each supported a different approach to life. I constantly question how they agree on any decisions they make, always coming to a quick consensus with very little arguing. I never really understood how they worked so well, with such vastly different personalities, they shouldn’t have been able to agree on anything, whether it’s where to go for dinner or how to raise their children- they shouldn’t have been able agree, but they did. They were able to discuss and agree on huge initiatives, such as to leave their families and lifestyles in India and move to Canada just because they felt it would give me, their only child at the time, better opportunities to be successful in life.
My mom is spontaneous and outgoing- always jumping at opportunities to try something new, constantly striving to add a spark into everyday life. She’s the type of person to try something different just because we drove past a sign advertising it a while back. She’s type of person to jump head first into a situation, believing that no problem could get solved unless you started- the type of person to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.
My mom instilled in me her ambition, passion and desire to be living life to the fullest every single day. She instilled her heart in me.
My dad on the other hand is very systematic, logical and a strong perfectionist- believing that any and all problems could be avoided with adequate proactive planning and preparation. He rarely stepped out of his comfort zone naturally, but if requested to, he was willing to try new things. He would spend three weeks planning out a two-week vacation, checking the weather, travel time and cost for every activity we planned to do. He left nothing to chance. If there was even a five percent chance of rain, you could guarantee that there would be an umbrella packed. He attempts to anticipate every possible misfortune that could occur and make an appropriate countermeasure in case it does.
My dad taught me the importance of proactive planning and a perfectionistic’s mindset. He imparted with me his mind.
Some of my favourite childhood memories are going on long drives and sitting the in back of the car and watching my parents discuss the plan when we arrived at our destination. My dad would have a list of everything that we should do during the trip to ensure that we covered all of the major attractions around our new location during our time there. My mom would read his plan and would constantly try to add to it, trying to ensure we were using every second of our trip to try something new. She would suggest things like rafting and helicopter trips, which would tend to stress my father out, due to it not being proactively planned out, and they would continue to go back and forth on the plan, with me laughing in the back. These discussions were never serious, usually a lighthearted banter, one that they participated in mainly for my enjoyment during the long trip.
In my youth, like most children, I realized that one of my parents might be more likely to say yes, or give me the response I was looking for, in a certain situation. Being young, I thought that I was being clever but as I grew I realized that my parents would discuss my requests with each other, so it didn’t really matter who I asked. But, the fact that I believed one parent would give me the ‘better’ answer due to their unique identity is significant because it illustrates that I felt more inclined to use a certain approach in different situations. By asking my mother, it meant that I was looking for a more fluid response, one where emotion, ambition and a sense of risk would factor in. An answer that would be driven by the desires of the heart. While asking my father meant I was looking for a more rational, unbiased logical response. An answer that was motivated by the instincts of the mind.
It surprises me, how the innocent actions of a child can display so much about one’s instincts as to how to react to a situation. With all the decisions I have had to make recently, in terms of courses, career possibilities, and universities I ask myself, “Who would I talk to?” And that response dictates to me whether I feel more comfortable making the decision following my heart or following my mind.
I have also come to understand how my parents have been able to get along so well, always being able to agree unanimously on any decision. Previously I have looked at the heart and the mind as polar opposites, each leading the individual down a different path- but in reality they are in sync with one another. The heart giving the individual the desire to move forward and take risks, while the mind focuses those desires on practical, reasonable goals, and if the individual’s ambition ever ends in failure the mind is able to refocus and energize the ambitious heart. That’s how my parents were able to prosper; their different outlooks in life did not divide them, as I had initially believed, rather they were unified by their distinctions, each complimenting and completing the other. They were able to build on each other’s identities and create a healthy relationship where both sides were able to live by their own personalities while not disregarding the other’s or their children’s point of view.
So which should we follow in our everyday lives?
Our heart or our mind?
The answer is simple: both.
No ambitious person has ever been successful without a focused vision and no intelligent person has ever been successful without motivation. The heart is a wild mustang, chasing everything it sees with little control while the mind acts as the reins, leading the steed, guiding it in the right direction. Neither the horse nor the reins can prosper alone. Neither can cross the finish line without the other, but together they can flourish, leading the individual to limitless possibilities, capped by only the extent to which they wish to dream . Only when working in unison, can the mind and the heart can lead a person to the happiness that they desire.