To live wholeheartedly is, to actively and sincerely devote yourself to living from a place of value, as part of community, a family, a relationship of any sort, even if it means risking great pain. It takes guts. It is as if, regardless of circumstances, you are truly, madly, deeply in love with the world and yourself. It means you show up in your life, in your work, fully. Sounds romantic, and it is, and like most romance it requires some elements to make it work.
Chiefly related to being wholehearted is your capacity to love and to be loved. This does not mean only romantic love, but can too be a love of humanity, a love of friends and family. This capacity to give and receive love is measured by the degree to which you value relationships with others marked by sustained deep feelings that provide happiness and foster healthy, respectful growth. As well as, how consistently you cultivate these relationships as a two-way venture. This capacity is a strength we each have to varying degrees and that can be fostered over time (M. Seligman, Authentic Happiness, 2002). If you can be loving and be loved you have a superb starting place to live wholeheartedly.
Wholeheartedness is a committed enthusiastic sustained series of choices and actions that unfold over time. It is emotional, adventurous, mysterious and easily idealized. And it is worth the courage and effort it requires.
Being wholehearted you choose to let go of what is familiar and show up in your life. You just show up in life, you don’t run away and you don’t grandstand, and you don’t judge when you show up. You screw up your courage and show up. Showing up can be as noble as sitting quietly with a loved one who is gravely ill. It can also be as simple as dancing as if no one is watching on a Tuesday afternoon in the yard with your kid. It means taking a breath, collecting your thoughts and actually listening to the meaning behind an other person’s words. It means doing (or trying to do) more set of reps at the gym than you believe you can. It means being willing to tolerate the ambiguity that comes from trying something new.
Brene Brown, a leading scholar of wholeheartedness, notes people are wholehearted live and love as they are, in the circumstances they are in, even awful circumstances, without losing zest for life or self worth. They take the time to rest, practice gratitude, and to play. They own up to what freaks them out or mistakes made, so that shame does not take root.
Wholeheartedly Showing Up
Can you show up without judgment in your life and others?
When you do what happens? In my experience there is a greater sense of ease that allows you to find you way through a messy, tricky situation. It is easier to learn from mistakes, something generally easier said than done. Taking risk in the future is also more likely which is great because moving beyond the familiar is where growth happened. Where you get to keep building and stretching your strengths. It is where you get better and can find that fine and ever-changing line between complacency and contentment.
Nothing ventured nothing gained, could almost be the tag line for being wholehearted. When you believe in your own merit- to know within yourself that you have potential, whether that potential has been expressed or not- it is easier to take a step into the unknown. Stepping into the unknown makes you simultaneously vulnerable and courageous enough to live and love wholeheartedly.
Approach Your Work and Life Wholeheartedly
What might you be able to do with greater ease because you know there is some breathing room built-in to your approach?
Could you more easily engage with staff or colleagues in a way they need so you can lead them but that you have been avoiding?
Would you be willing to take on a precious project that you have been waiting until the magical “perfect time” arrives?
Would quieting the yammering of your inner critic be easier?
Would you be willing to confront the “pink elephant” in the room in order to get past it?
Would you be able to more fully mentor someone who could really benefit from your wisdom?
Would you just feel better? Happier? Be more likely to smile like a Cheshire cat at the end of the day?
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Deirdre Danahar works with busy, creative, professionals who are looking to shift from what feels chaotic, disjointed or frustrating to a calm productive, spirited life. People she works with come away knowing how to do their best work without sacrificing their quality of life. She is the owner of InMotion Consulting & Coaching, LLC, based in Jackson, MS. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-362-8288.