What Does “Living From the Heart” Really Mean?

Kamogawa Dancer by Paul Crouse

“Living from the heart” is one of the those phrases used in self-help circles that borders on cliché.  Unfortunately, excellent ideas often get lost when phrases like this are overused in a Stewart Smalley-like fashion. 

Yet, the idea of “living from the heart” is profound and beneficial. Like all symbolism, it is open to interpretation and can evolve over time. 

Moving Past The Mind

In our secular world, we are taught that intellect is supreme and that we should live from our minds. Everything is based on our thoughts, which rule us -- either consciously or subconsciously.

Yet anyone who has ever been even the slightest bit neurotic knows the tricks that your mind can play - it can mess you up. It is fallible and is susceptible to all different kinds of obsessions, compulsions and addictions.

I believe that “living from the heart” means moving away from living totally from thought. Our soul is our core and the reason we were born. Our minds (including our emotions) are layered on top, superimposed. 

The key is learning to move our minds off the side and to live from this deepest place. The heart is our center and is an access point to this deep place.

A New Role Model

All of this is fine and dandy, but we need role models to help us see how we can apply this sort of idea in real life. I have a new role model for you: Forrest Gump.

I am sure you are having a bit of a laugh about that one right now. But I am serious. 

Forrest Gump on Bench.jpg

Forrest was a simple man who genuinely lived from his heart. And he lived an amazing life, just by showing up. He didn't care what other people thought. He knew that he was not as intelligent as other people, but it didn't really matter to him.

"I know that I'm not a smart man,” said Forrest while proposing to his lifelong friend Jenny. “But I know what love is."

Forrest just was. He didn't think much about things; he simply lived.  And that was fine. He had his ups and downs, like we all do. 

He was guided by his heart and he always did his best. When they gave him the football, he just ran. When his fellow soldiers were in danger in combat, he went back and saved them. When a jerk punched Jenny, he beat the crap out of him. And in the end, he showed love and devotion to his son.

And all along the way, miraculous things happened. 

"And I had to go to the White House…. again,” pined Forrest as he told his life story to strangers at a bus stop.

We can all learn a lot from stories like this. Wisdom does not have to be revealed in the ancient and the exotic. The wonder of the universe is right in front of us right now, in its entirety. If we can learn how to turn off our jabbering minds, move past our fears, worries and prejudices, and act more than little bit like Forrest, we’ll all be better off for it.

Remember, your mind can mess you up, but your soul always knows what’s right. One of the access points to the soul is through your heart. 

Your Homework

You have a two-part homework today.

Firstly, watch the movie Forrest Gump again. This time, watch it with the idea that Forrest is your teacher. See how he lives from the heart, while other characters may not. See the effect he has on others and how his life magically flows from one phase to another.

The second part of your homework is to try to emulate Forrest, even just a little bit. Do your best not to try to think yourself through situations, like we are trained to do. Just be and feel your way through. Ask yourself: “What would Forrest do?”

Of course, this does not mean that you should abandon your reasoning altogether. But more times than not, living from that knowing on the inside is the best path.

Life really is like a box of chocolates. You don't know what you're going to get.

But you do have to go out into the world and live your life. And you never know, you might even get one of those cherry-filled chocolates, if Forrest hasn’t eaten it already.

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Paul Crouse

Paul Crouse is a spiritual teacher and advisor, life coach, writer, speaker and photographer based in Kyoto, Japan. He helps people who consciously want to change their lives for the better. He helps people build a strong inner foundation, while helping them to clarify and achieve their goals. He works with people worldwide via video calling or face-to-face in Kyoto. He also leads workshops and seminars, both online and in person, for organizations and companies.