Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Follow Or Not To Follow Your Heart

We always refer to "heart" when we make our decisions emotionally and "brain" when we follow some instructions mechanically. It is quite obvious from the saying, "Follow your heart, not brain" which tells us to make our decisions emotionally based on our liking rather than following the herd.

Throughout the history and in various ancient cultures, heart is treated as the intelligent force behind all our thoughts and feelings we experience intuitively. In one of the oldest books of Egypt on wisdom "Ptah-Hotep" ('The God Ptah is satisfied'), it is said "Follow your heart during your lifetime; do not do more than what is commanded you." Old Testament of Bible says "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he". "Let your heart guide your head in evil matters" is a very old and famous Spanish saying. The New Testament of the Bible has a reference to a reasoning heart, "What reason ye in your hearts". Bhagavad Gita talks about the intelligent/ignorant heart, "Sever the ignorant doubt in your heart with the sword of self-knowledge." The Chinese, Hebrew and the followers of Islam also have their interpretations of thinking heart.
Brain vs. Heart (Source: Tumblr)

But, did you ever try to logically think if these statements and interpretations make sense scientifically? Rather medically? I've not and now that I'm thinking in this direction my mind raises this question. Didn't our high-school science teacher tell us that heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood and maintains circulation to all parts of the body until we breathe for the last time, and it's the brain which has the ability to think and make decisions? And, it is quite possible that throughout this history, this attributed thinking ability of heart is a result of lack of understanding of our body's functionality or incorrect translations/interpretations of actual manuscripts written in various languages.

But, looks like I shouldn't have doubted the thinkers of the past and my high school teacher is not all that correct. Documented by scientific evidence, the heart communicates with the entire body neurologically, biochemically and bio-physically. Neurological communication happens through the impulses of nerve cells. Biochemical control comes through hormones and neurotransmitters. Bio-physically the heart can also send out pressure waves when it pumps the blood. Recent studies show that heart's innate capability to control the brain comes from electromagnetic interactions between them too. The heart generates body's strongest electromagnetic field which is 60 times stronger than what brain could produce. The rhythmic patterns of our beating heart changes with various emotions we go through. The experimental data also backs up the fact that positive emotions give out distinct mode of psycho-physiological coherence which leads to increased efficiency and harmony in the interactions of our entire body. Maintaining this harmony inside our body is important for being healthy, and this is why it's important to follow our heart.
Source: Link

Often, due to the challenges the society we live in poses, our decisions are not based on what our heart says. This leads to dilemma when our heart opposes the mind not only in the life changing career decisions but also in the simplest of the cases when we want to decide what to eat. Listening to heart might give satisfaction, but following the mind might lead to results and success. When I talk about results in this modern time, it is money. Because, mostly the measurement of success is in terms of the money we earn, the house we live and the cars we drive. And if you are a person of heart, I know it hurts. But, here is why you should follow your heart.

Do you know why most scientists lock themselves in labs and invent things they do? They work for their passion, they follow their heart. What would happen to all the innovation if those passionate entrepreneurs don't push the boundaries risking their careers? Bhagat Singh would have never started a revolution had he done what his brain said. Gandhi would have never cared for our freedom had he not followed his heart. Martin Luther King need not take that bullet had he not followed his heart. But, things would have been different had these great people followed their minds.

Remember how many lives changed when only a handful of people fought for what they believed and risked their lives despite knowing about the imminent hardships. What happens to this world if everyone follows their hearts and works for their passion? Why don't we do that?

Tyler Durden (Source: Toonz)
Because, it's not simple! It requires us to move out of your comfort zones. How many of us can stop caring what other people would say for some action we do? We live in a hypocritical society and in constant fear. And because of this fear, we are not what we want to be. We live under a facade, an attractive one for the sake of the society. We are worried about following our heart. May be this is the reason why I adore Tyler Durden. Tyler believes in being content at what we do. He believes in being true to self. "Sticking feathers up your butt doesn't make you a chicken". We are not the job we do, not the money we have, not the car we drive, not the assets we own and not the contents of our wallet. The stuff we own doesn't define us, it's what we accomplish. I'm not saying to risk your family and everything. Follow your heart; but don't lose your shirt.

If you don't know the Tyler Durden I'm talking about, he's the character of the movie Fight Club which was made after the novel by the same name written by Chuck Palahniuk. When people ask me why I like the movie so much, I tell them only about the rush the movie gives. But, there is more than the adrenaline rush to it. It's not about just fighting or creating chaos. To me the movie is more of a preaching throwing some light on the way we live now. People do it every day, they talk to themselves… they see themselves as they’d like to be, they don’t have the courage to just run with it. Tyler, in the movie, helps the protagonist by taking him down the path of enlightenment. For those of you who have seen the movie, do you remember the scene in which the penguin echoes "Slide" when the hero enters his secret cave in his mind? The power animal in that scene asks the hero to slide all those things that truly doesn't matter. To let go all the fear and distractions from being what you truly want to be. But, it was not easy for our protagonist to let go, and this is where Tyler helps him.

As Tyler said, "This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time." If only we have our own manifestations of Tyler Durdens in our life too, for those of us who want to follow our hearts but cannot.



  1. wow vee.....i don't like fight club movie that much......Now it makes sense in your perspective....DEW

  2. Hi Vee, I have commented here already but I could not see? where is it? was it lost?

  3. Complicated post but you pulled it off well

  4. Yes, I posted a comment yesterday Vee, but would do it again since it was lost!

    Re: To follow or not to follow??? Sometimes if we follow heart, we are a happy fool but when we follow mind, we are a sad romantic...:(

    But best is a check and balance, heart should be checked by mind and vice versa... :-)

    A very meaningful and well-thought of post Vee...thanks for sharing, however, I will remain a hopeless romantic, so my heart rules over head not the other way around... :-)

    Btw, I already corrected the lapse Vee, you can now check on your guest post and of course please leave a comment!!!

    Have a nice day!

  5. Vee,

    I was mesmerized reading your post! Many a times, u spoke my words.

    didn't about the scientific backing of the power, electromagnetic, of the heart. Thanks for sharing that.

    A very well researched post Vee, connection of heart to various religions was amazing.

    All this time, I believed that heart means our inner voice and I have mostly followed it.

    With age, you understand the balance between heart and mind, and then u choose to take decisions from heart, unlike in ur immature years when you unknowingly and instinctively take decisions from heart... and get heart ache! you know what I mean?!

    Hey I read, u have a guest post, will surely read it :)

    Vee, do write things like this, your loud thinking had a logical flow and always I love to read ur writings!

    keep it up!


  6. Do create a link on ur blog to ur guest post, am not able to find it.


  7. Dew -
    I love that movie. it has got lot of influence on me, and traces of it can be found in my blog posts throughout.

    Srikanth -
    Complicated in the way the ideas are presented or the post itself is a complex one?

    Amity -
    Thank you very much for your comments. I wouldn't say I'm a romantic with heart taking over the mind, but I can see the change in myself. Sometime back I used to take the safest decision or choice by thinking with mind. Now I want to do what exactly I like whole heartedly but looks like that's not an easy thing in reality. And you rightly said it, best way is to maintain a balance.
    Also, thank you for the guest post opportunity and for patiently reposting your comment here.

  8. I'd rather let my heart do the thinking. Don't our mistakes define us?

  9. I have learnt through trial and hard errors to arrive at a balance between the heart and mind. And today I juggle between the two as the situation demands and most of the time I am right.

    Well researched post. Enjoyed the cerebral read.

  10. What happens in a man's brain is all self-created. His logic, morality, attitude is all conditioning of the society. With a man's death all of this will disappear in a moment.

    One emotion which I can connect to heart is pure passion. By pure passion I mean something your attitude is intense, focused and relaxed at the same time. I feel this aspect of life is eternal.

    Watch this -

    Thank you.

  11. Restless -
    Thank you very much for those encouraging words. Even I have considered heart as my inner voice, but as I researched more it turned out that there is some scientific backing to it.
    Hmmm, I understand what you meant when you say about the balance between heart and brain. May be time will tell me more about that right balance. Sometime ago, I used to be totally the mind person but now as I get a better perspective of things happening around every decision seem to be motivated by money mostly and that hurts me.

  12. Purba -

    That's intelligently said. Our mistakes do define us and make us a better person. But, it depends if the mistake is worth the risk or not and that is where we want our mind to take control of the decision making process rather than the heart.

    Thanks for dropping by my page.

    Zephyr -

    I think that is something we learn with experience and I hope to learn that as time goes by. Thank you very much for your comments

  13. Anonymous -

    Thank you for sharing your views. And that's a wonderful statement about passion. If we are intense, focused and relaxed while doing something, it definitely means we want to do it out of interest. Wholeheartedly. And that's what is important to us. isn't it! also, thank you for sharing that informative video.

  14. Wow! v interesting n informative post...gr8 research done, can say one of my most liked posts of urs!

  15. Wonderful Research.
    I too try my best to strike the balance to make decisions.

  16. yeah..!! u are right man..!! Tyler Rules..! It's my favourite movie as well because it sends a very strong message.:)
    In fact, at one time I was about to name my blog as Tyler Durden's Blog..!! :D

  17. Pravee -
    Thank you, very glad you liked. :D

    Sowjee -
    Well, some decisions cannot be taken with that balance. It either has to be from heart or from your mind. Some of those are the defining situations.

    Aniruddh -
    Indeed, Tyler rules. :)


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