“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” – Nelson Mandela
For most of my life, I have lived under the impression that my actions will follow my heart – that the things I valued the most would be reflected by my life investment. That is, my money, time, energy, and mindfulness would be directed towards the things I valued most.
All while there is still some truth in that statement, over the past few years of pursuing minimalism, I have begun to notice that the inverse is also true. That my heart appears naturally drawn to the places where I have invested most – not that my investment follows my heart, but that my heart tends to follow my investment.
This principle was profoundly etched in my mind the day my family went grocery shopping and left the store to find a fresh, large, white scrape across the passenger side of our maroon mini-van. The mini-van was far from new. Yet, there was an immediate pit that emerged in my stomach over the wrong that had been committed. The driver kindly left us with no insurance or contact information… just a large noticeable scrape down the side of our vehicle. The distress was strengthened by the fact that we both knew I was far too cheap to get it repaired. The unsightly scratch would likely remain over the course of the van’s life.
As we drove away from the store in silence, I began to reflect on the scratch and more importantly, how the incident brought about such a gut level response. I found it interesting to consider the fact that if this same scrape had been left on my bicycle or my son’s skateboard, I would not have been nearly upset. And I couldn’t help but wonder why that was the case. Why did the action cut so deep into my stomach and heart?
And it occurred to me, I was so upset because our vehicle was such a large investment. I had invested money, time, and care into it. I wouldn’t mind if my son’s skateboard got a new scratch because… well, I didn’t have nearly as much invested into it. But my vehicle was a huge investment and because of that, my heart naturally gravitated toward it.
Our heart will always follow our greatest investments – whether it be our car, our house, our career, or our investment portfolio. We literally tie our hearts to certain things by the sheer amount of investment we put into them. And too many of us are tying our hearts to the wrong things. We are devoting our lives and tying our hearts to material possessions that will never last or bring us true joy. Lasting fulfillment can never be tied to things that are temporal by nature.
Instead, we ought to invest our money, time, and lives into things that are truly important. Invest into your family, your friends, or the causes that you believe in. And as you do, you’ll notice your heart naturally begins to be drawn to them more and more.
The spell of materialism can be hard to break. As long as we live on earth surrounded by material possessions, keeping them in proper perspective is going to be a struggle. But we can begin to break its fascination in our lives by reminding ourselves that we are investing more than our dollars into them. We are tying our very hearts to them as well.