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Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: renaissancechambara
I just couldn’t resist the photo/word play… But seriously folks, as you think about the people, the situations, the opportunities, and the disasters that make up the fabric of your life, do you feel deeply and earnestly? Or have you slipped into a mindlessly dispirited ennui?

Recently I was invited to join a group called Heartfelt Leadership. And, of course, in addition to accepting the wonderful invitation, I also thought, “Great idea for a post!” But of course, much like the Heartfelt Leadership group’s founder, Debra Boelkes, I also wondered – what the heck does “heartfelt” really mean? Technically, here’s the answer and some nifty rhyming words just in case you’re poetically inclined:

HEARTFELT: deeply felt : earnest

Synonyms: sincere, unfeigned

Rhymes with HEARTFELT
black belt, Frostbelt, greenbelt, hot-melt, jacksmelt, Krefeld, lap belt, rust belt, seat belt, self-belt, snowbelt, snowmelt, Sunbelt, web belt

Hmmm – an awful lot of belts in there, kind of makes me nervous… which brings me to the crux of my wondering-conundrum: Heartfelt isn’t a simple state of being. Anything that’s so-very-earnestly heart-felt can and will provoke a myriad of emotions from joyous elation to grief… Obviously, it’s great when you’re at one end of the spectrum; not so great at the other. But even at the extremes, I do believe that heartfelt feelings all have some element of hope at their core – especially when it seems all hope has been dashed, a tiny kernel of hope for future goodness prevails. Adler and Ross said it well in their lyrics:

You’ve gotta have hope! Musn’t sit around and mope.
Nuthin’ half as bad as it may appear, wait’ll next year and hope.
When your luck is battin’ zero, get your chin up off the floor…
You’ve gotta have heart!

Miles and miles and miles of heart!
Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of course!
But keep that ol’ horse before the cart!
First you’ve got to have heart!

— Adler and Ross
Damn Yankees

Heartfelt Demands Courage and Stamina

As I said earlier, heartfelt isn’t a simple state of being – it demands courage and stamina… The courage to embrace what is, to hope for more and better, and to reach out with hope.

Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

And the stamina to persevere even when hope dwindles; stamina to find a new focus, or even a new lens that lets us see the world of possibilities that surround us. Whether we’re talking about leadership or life, “heartfelt” is really about how we see our world.

If you and I, once in a while, sink into an ennui of weariness and discontent, then it’s up to us to change what needs to be changed so that we can recapture our hopes and dreams – it’s even possible that our very survival depends upon it:

Cardiac patients with optimistic expectations about their recovery were 30 percent less likely to die over the next 15 years than patients with less optimistic expectations, regardless of the severity of their heart disease, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

“This study is unique because it shows that a patient’s attitude toward their disease not only impacts their ability to return to a normal lifestyle but also their health over the long term and ultimately their survival,” said John C. Barefoot, PhD, the study’s lead author.

Much like cardiac patients, when we find that the strength of our “heartfelt” vibes is waning, regardless of the severity of our ennui, we must work to build ourselves up – our happiness depends on it.

It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.

— Dalai Lama

Eight Ways to Rebuild Your Heartfelt Vibes

For the day when your heartfelt vibes begin to wane, I offer you eight prescriptions for reviving them. And, simply because other people have already said it so well, I turn to folks more eloquent that I:

  1. Optimism: Hold onto your hope…

    Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

    — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. Humor: Sneer at your hardships, find a way to laugh life’s cruelties in the face…

    A sense of humor… is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.

    — Hugh Sidey

  3. Play: Energize your life with fun…

    I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.

    — Leo Buscaglia

  4. Prayer: Keep the faith and let your heartstrings sing…

    Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.

    — Mahatma Gandhi

  5. Friendship: Hold your friends close…

    In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

    — Khalil Gibran

  6. Hard Work: Do what must be done…

    Of life’s two chief prizes, beauty and truth, I found the first in a loving heart and the second in a laborer’s hand.

    — Khalil Gibran

  7. BIG Dreams: Make them so…

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

    — Mahatma Gandhi

  8. Life Lived Well: Feel the gusto…

    These, then, are my last words to you: Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create that fact.

    — William James

Resolve to live a heartfelt life. Live deeply and earnestly…

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