Listening to the Heart: A Key to Happiness
By Elliott Robertson
“The open heart is a portal to Heaven and the gateway for your Spirit to enter your body,” Sonia Choquette wrote in The Answer Is Simple.
According to Choquette, the key to keeping the heart open is expecting “good things from life even when its challenges are overwhelming” and knowing that “positive things are always in store for you.”
You may have lost your nest egg due to an economic nosedive recently. If so, you may be tempted to close your heart immediately in reaction to the misfortune. As humans, when times get rough or when an unexpected loss surprises us, we are apt to decide that life will never again be as pleasant as it once was. If you’ve been ambushed by an unfortunate turn of events and if you’ve closed yourself off from expecting good things from life, your first priority needs to be the opening of your heart even in the midst of threats and chaos—to move out of reaction into response. In other words, your priority needs to be to release the fear that fuels the desire to control and to simply trust instead.
A life lived from a place of fear is vastly different from a life lived in trust. The contrast between the two is highlighted by observing the difference between expectancy and expectations:
- Expectancy invites. Expectation demands.
- Expectancy can move with the rhythms. Expectation asks the rhythms to conform to a perceived need that may not be real.
- Expectancy cultivates the soil for celebration. It readies us to embrace whatever arises. Expectation only celebrates after conditions have been met (after a friend starts arriving on time, for example). It leads to frustration.
- Expectancy sets the stage for intimacy and takes us to a place where we can dwell in the truth that giving and receiving are one. Expectation fosters an “if/then” conditional approach to thinking and living.
- Expectancy leaves the door open for this moment, this hour of worship, this gathering to be fresh and new as never before. It opens the way to seeing the gates of heaven everywhere. Expectation begins not with asking to see the gates of heaven nor with an interest in God’s will, but with the preferences of one’s false self.
- Expectancy invites people to be who they are. It comes from the starting point of believing every soul brings something good and every heart is worth of being heard and honored. The buoyant, joyful energy of expectancy calls out, “You matter! You count!” This opens the heart’s eyes to behold the other. Expectation assumes that rules are needed and hence it brings tunnel vision that is not inclined to behold. (Instead of beholding what is encountered or experienced, expectation compares and contrasts to see if the rules have been adhered to.)
- Expectancy rejoices in each person’s authority and sets each person free to choose. It is infused with “I want you to be you.” Expectation is too concerned with rules to have any interest in what people might choose.
- Expectancy invites the mind into the heart. Expectation address the mind but not the heart.
- Expectancy honors the whole person and invites a dialogue. It wants to listen from a place of I-Thou. Expectation thinks first and foremost of letting one’s rules and wishes be known. (It thinks doing so will create safety, but it is a mistaken; doing so creates nothing more than separation.)
- Expectancy trust that everyone has a gift to offer and that the moment now is pregnant with a good gift. Expectation is rooted in a lack of trust causing a need to control. It refers back to the past for evidence justifying as reasonable a lack of trust.
Begin the day by bringing your attention to the One with a spirit of expectancy of good things. When you brush your teeth or wash your face, say, “I wonder what good things are on their way to me.”
Expectancy is the “inner posture” of the open heart. When going through life with this posture, you are available to living life fully and receptive to the gifts that come your way.
Elliott Robertson is a Spiritual Growth Coach. His book Say Yes to Life: Seven Keys to Living Full Out from Within is available at Amazon. Contact Elliott at [email protected]