Attempting to understand what makes men feel happy or sad may be a lifelong journey. Listening to your heart, though, brings many surprises.
My heart beats with joy and happiness while writing most of the time. It is a way that I can express inner emotions through words. It also allows me to connect with that healing and whole part of the ventricles and chambers that are a part of my own human heart.
You, too, have these same pieces within your heart space. Yet how much do you and I pay attention to it? Keeping it beating at a solid pace while not letting stress, anxiety, fear, addictions and other people’s “stuff” interfere can become a challenge.
When I see a couple in love, there’s something almost magical about the quality and ability of their lives to comingle. It has happened a few times in my own life where that “being in love” emotion flooded my senses. While the present moment is there, I also can have this yearning sensation crop up for something that I once had.
Some internal message kicks in and wants me to believe that funny feeling will never happen again. My heart almost subconsciously pushes a “red alert” button to keep me away from taking risks around healthy love and compassion.
All of us have periods in life where we are individualistic, rugged and tough. That machismo or “I can conquer the world and do not need anyone’s help” mentality takes over. What does that really serve? A starving ego looking for attention or some unmet emotional need?
The other side of machismo is neediness. “Help me, please!” and “I really need, need you!” are clarion calls from this area. To be clear, there are definite times and places where having needs—in a healthy way—are wonderful. There is no shame or guilt in these moments. Yet there are people who seemingly live their lives in a perpetual state of neediness and never grow up.
A man’s heart can only take so much “macho” attitude. At some point, it all breaks apart and slams against rocks along the seashore. There, a man may meet his true heart for the first time.
Brokenness and loss are two powerful, painful ways to comprehend heart matters. Understanding one’s own imperfections, and embracing them, is also empowering. They may not feel that way when first appearing on a soul’s scene. That heart-searing pain can lead to moments of sadness and shedding tears. When was the last time you, as a man, had a good cry? Don’t believe the hype that crying isn’t for men. That’s a myth and a lie. One way to enhance your own heart’s health is through those misty eyes.
There have been times where looking inside at my own heart and how to take care of it provide quite a jolt to my consciousness. When I feel like I’m doing such an awesome job, there always seems to be something that pops up in the middle of my happiness and says, “Hey, you are not looking over here.”
At times, it’s like that ancient “shadow” that I do not want to see. It lingers around and pokes my heart with great abandon. It wants to teach me a lesson, I guess. What that lesson is, well, takes time to ponder and figure out.
It might have to do with a person or situation that happened a long time ago. It also might involve seeing more clearly that I don’t have all of my stuff together as much as I hoped.
A healthy heart is always in touch with its intricate surroundings. I can tell you that the path my life has taken in recent months was one I consciously did not plan out. My heart has hurt a lot and I’ve suffered and struggled through times of doubt and fear.
Many different people who have shown care and concern for me have offered encouraging words or kindnesses. Through their examples, I’m able to see that our hearts can actually bear a lot more than we give them credit for at times. Mind you, there comes a limit and surrendering to whatever is taking place in life also offers a path to freedom.
I wonder if you ever take the time to sit down and feel your own heart beating. Maybe you just put a hand over that space around your chest and see if it’s still beating. Obviously if you are reading these words, then it’s still beating.
The heart needs support and care, too. How many words or articles have been written over many decades on taking care of that muscle inside our bodies? A lot. Fitness magazines can talk about building up muscle mass or getting those biceps and triceps in better shape. It would be rather sweet if one of them just put up a picture of a heart and simply said “Take care of this first. The rest is commentary.”
On a recent Saturday morning, I went out for a run around Town Lake here in Austin. I happened to look up and over at a father with his son while I got some water. The father was drenched in sweat after his run. His son was in a chair, the type that runners use when taking their children outside with them.
The father’s son had some type of physical malady and I didn’t inquire as to what it was. In that moment, I realized that the father was my hero for the day. It touched my heart to see a father so loving to his son. The mere fact that I could feel that emotion and recognize it let me know that my heart was in pretty fit condition, and that was before six miles of a healthy run awaited me.
Let me encourage you to look for those heartfelt moments in your life. You and I can definitely use them as inspiration. Share them with other people who may be feeling downcast or sad. Give their sagging hearts a boost. It will boost yours, too.
Photo: Getty Images