By Brian MacKenzie
“There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.”
— Gautama Buddha
Heart, grit and passion all are subtle shades of the same character, with tangled and intertwined intentions. We talk about training and competing, about using grit and willing yourself. Heart, its meaning and what it looks like all depends on who you ask. If we’re looking at athletes and examining the truth and clarity of their heart, we see grit, the ability to push through, and the aversion to quitting. As athletes and as humans we fight for what we want and for what we believe, and those struggles are deep. They require heart.
Heart tugs on ego as well, because if your heart sings for something you’re passionate about, you’ll set aside ego to learn more about what you’re doing. Passion, with its mixture of love and hate, means you love something so much that it frustrates you while simultaneously driving you to learn more. And that’s what heart is – the passionate drive to understand what you love on a deeper level. While there are no clear downfalls to being a human with heart, there are downfalls of being an athlete with an ego, especially coupled with a lack of self-awareness. An athlete with an ego is a danger to him/herself if they cannot sense that danger. The danger stems from the sacrifices one will undertake to feed their passion.
Happiness is the Path
That heart-driven, single-mindedness is where we see ego poke through, and where there is the greatest chance for happiness. We all have ego, but those of us who can make the best of any situation and still be happy are even more fulfilled when we can do what our heart calls for – whether it’s an outside run, a turn through breaking waves or whatever else makes you soar.
Happiness is the path, but you can’t follow that path unless you’re true to your heart. You’re either happy with what you’re doing or you’re not. So many of us solve our happiness equation by the results of a workout or a race. If we expected to run outside and it’s snowing or -20 degrees, I might have to adjust. I might run outside anyway and get frostbite. Or I might find something to do inside. No matter the decision, the heart of the journey is just that – how you choose to move your body. Heart is not disappointment borne by false expectations. Surfers are another example; athletes in constant search of strong swells that will soon disappear. Most surfers drop everything to surf. Anyone who’s been married to a surfer knows that to be true. There’s sacrifice, whether it’s waves or golf or a run or a bike ride. That’s your happy place.
No Such Thing as Procrastination
There is no such things as procrastination. There is only “I’m interested” or “I’m not interested enough.” I heard this not long ago by a guy being interviewed and it stuck! When you’re interested in something enough that your heart becomes involved, there are many things you’ll set aside so that you can accomplish what you want. You will pass through obstacles and failures along the way, and continue forward.
So how do you live with heart? Learn. Learn from your failures and be open to change. The journey is not a straight path. Take what’s useful and get rid of what doesn’t work for you. Get rid of what doesn’t make you happy. Yes, this may seem a little bit too good to be true, but the fact is the people in your life and the things you’re doing right now may need to change. And that is where understanding heart vs ego begins. Good thing is none of us are perfect.
Your personal path to enlightenment can be running, food, cars, even a typewriter. But whatever it is, make sure it’s enlightening for you. Make sure it’s true to your heart.