Choosing Between Your Heart and Mind – How to Tell the Difference

Mind v. Heart:

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

They are part of life. Each day requires us to make them. Some decisions are made rather easily, without much thought, and others take time, forcing us to think of all the ‘what if’s’ as a result.

You can make some decisions, and your life will remain nearly the same. However, there is also a chance that a decision could be life altering, forever changing your course and direction.

Regardless of whether or not you make a decision quickly or slowly, in good reasoning or bad, something will happen. As Ralph Waldo Emerson states, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” It’s a cause and effect reaction that can be altered.

Arriving to the point of committing yourself requires thought, sometimes reframing your expectations, and developing patience until you are confident with your choice. Once committed in your heart or your mind, the next, most important step is to actually move forward with what you feel is best.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do it nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Then, the final step is to move forward with the confidence knowing that you have made a decision you believe to be best, and you will stand by that decision. If it goes as you would hope, then all is well. If it doesn’t, then all is still well, because it allows you to learn, develop, and grow.

Are there decisions you need to make today?

Do you need to prioritize and choose which tasks are most important on your growing list?

Will you decide how to approach a difficult conversation with a friend, family member, mentor, peer, co-worker, or supervisor?

Does a decision need to be made for something more simple, such as what to make for dinner?

Perhaps it’s something much more difficult, such as whether or not to keep a family member on life support? Or, possibly walking away from a career in pursuit of something greater?

No matter how you arrive at your decision, it’s important to understand that the decision will be rooted in one of two places – your heart or your mind.

The Differences Between Decisions of the Mind and Decisions of the Heart:

I don’t always believe that the heart and mind are aligned. A lot of times, there never seems to be congruency between the two – as if the heart’s passion is in serious conflict with the mind’s analysis.

The challenge is that life forces you to make decisions that require both types of decisions, but it’s your responsibility to make that choice. When faced with a decision, the heart and mind will each have their own agenda, pushing and pulling you one way or another. At the end of the day, only you can decide the right move to make.

Do you prefer to listen to your ‘gut’ (mind) or to follow your heart? Both paths provide a different set of realities, truths if you will, that contribute to the process both before and after the decision is actually made.

When you can identify what these truths are, then it makes it easier to determine whether certain decisions would be best made with you heart or your mind.

That being said, the following ideas are a few of these truths, or differences, that help discern whether a decision is made, or is going to be made, using something deep inside us that provides life or something that speaks to us directly:

1. Decisions of the heart are processed over and over again. Decisions of the mind are analyzed and made reactively.

2. Decisions of the heart take into consideration the journey Decisions of the mind think about getting to the next step.

3. Decisions of the heart have a tendency to involve passions, purpose, and pursuit of something greater. Decisions of the mind are often times fixated on immediate gratification, and fulfilling a desire to want something.

4. Decisions of the heart take into consideration the impact that decision will have on others. Decisions of the mind are somewhat narcissistic – thinking about oneself.

5. Decisions of the heart open up doors of opportunity for help from other people (refer to numbers 1-4). Decisions of the mind have the ability to shut off help from others (refer to number 4).

6. Decisions of the heart are absorbed in long term investments. Decisions of the mind are immersed in short term gains.

7. Decisions of the heart exhibit feelings of doubt, frustration, hope, and peace. Decisions of the mind display feelings of excitement, thrill, enthusiasm, and exhilaration.

8. Decisions of the heart can have moments of remorse when the decision doesn’t go as planned. Decisions of the mind move on as if nothing ever happened.

9. Decisions of the heart provide a deep level of growth and learning – something to draw from for future choices. Decisions of the mind create a reminder of what happened the last go around.

10. Decisions of the heart challenge the status quo, they aren’t sexy, and you will likely be asked to explain yourself. Decisions of the mind are logical, easy to justify, and ‘make sense’.

In thinking about these ten truths, take a minute to think about a decision you are in the process of making – today, this week, in the next month or year. Based on these thoughts, are you more inclined to make a decision based on what your heart feels or what your mind is telling you?

The life you live is a crazy, beautiful and challenging adventure. It requires you to make choices. And, tough decisions are made by tough people.

There’s no right or wrong path to follow. As an individual you will likely fall on one end of the spectrum or the other – driven by your heart or influenced by your mind. However, the most important thing to remember is that, in life, you need to use both.

When you’re not sure which route is best, then take a glance at the ten ideas listed above. Then, ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish; what is my goal in making this decision?”

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