Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

You Gotta Have Heart

When we refer to the heart we are speaking of the organ in our body that pumps all the blood.  when we refer to having a heart or having heart we are speaking about something much more personal.  It’s clear to all of us that we need a heart.  Even the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz knew he needed a heart.  What he came to learn is that he didn’t need the organ, he need the experience of having heart.

Where is this all leading?  Let me say that there is more to having heart then merely a feeling.  Because the heart is at the center of our life force it holds a prominent place in our lives.  In addition, the experiential part of our lives is often also given credit to the heart.  So you see, the heart is not only necessary, but very impressive.

If I asked you to remember something from twenty years ago where would you experience that memory?  Is it something you dig out of a file in your brain or is it something you remember as an experience in your heart?   The brain may be the keeper of facts, but the heart is the keeper of experience and wisdom.  (hard to believe I haven’t mentioned illness yet in this post, but don’t despair, here it comes)

Having heart needs to be a crucial component in your wellness plan.  Think of a pleasurable experience you had as the younger you.  Don’t think about the facts, the who, what, when, where, how; think about the experience and how it made you feel.  How can you hold on to that memory and that feeling.  Capturing the pleasure of that experience can produce effects in the body similar to a runner’s high (without all that running).

It’s like the Christmas cartoon, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, the Grinch has an awakening and his heart grew to be three times its size.  Now we know that the creators of the cartoon weren’t explaining that the physical heart grew because that would have killed the Grinch.  They were saying that the feelings of good, kindness and compassion made his heart swell, kind of like re-hydrating his own goodness.

I know it’s hard to let go of the harsh experiences, but when you experience your heart, not from its beating side, but from its emotional side your body will begin to relax.  You’ll see that although the health challenge is unwanted, inconvenient, frightening, and energy draining; there are opportunities for respite in the oasis we call, the heart!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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