How do you know when your heart’s in the right place?

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“Go through me, pick me.”

It seems like wherever I go, there’s always someone asking me whether they’re doing the right thing, with the right person, or in the right place.

So I do what any good friend would do. I ask them, “What does your heart want?” And of course all I get is a glare back that says, you’re not helping.

But it’s true. I think all of our hearts are very good at telling us what we want. Many of us just simply hasn’t learned to listen or refuse to.

I’m a big proponent of the idea that all of our bodies have intuitive compasses that tell us what to do and where to go. A few years ago while I was trying to decide what to do with my graduated-unemployed self I picked up a book called “Find Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. In her book she explains that we all have internal compasses, and that all we had to do was to learn to read it and follow it. It sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly not natural to many of us. Why? Because we’ve been taught from a very young age by society not to do many things out of fear. Fear of instability, fear of failure, fear of rejection, and the list goes on.

I wasn’t any better at reading my compass than anyone else, but I learned to be better at it through practice, and I know I have because my life is much better and happier for it.

When I first moved across the country by myself, one of the biggest signs to me that I was in the right place was when I noticed how light and free I felt. I was meeting all the right people effortlessly, people who sort of just fell into my lap. I became friends with the girl who responded to my housing inquiry even though we didn’t end up living together. I became friends of friends who told me “you two should meet,” I became friends with people who simply just crossed my path. These friends are what Martha Beck calls your “tribe.” They are people who propel and inspire you to be your better self. They cultivate your interests and ambitions, and they connect you with resources that would help you. They are genuinely interested in your causes and want to help you succeed. I feel very fortunate to have met many of them.

Another prime example of how I know I’m in the right place, is that I feel much more motivated to do the things that I’m interested in. Back at home I was very comfortable with where I was. I was too comfortable in fact and I became very unhappy with the ennui of everyday life. I kept having this feeling that I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what or how. I would ignore it, feel better, and then the cycle would repeat. I was unhappy because I was not feeling challenged nor growth.  I had many ideas of what I wanted to do- yoga, visit more places, cook more, eat healthier, write, read poetry, learn about social justice, participate in activism, but they never really went further than a dabble. In contrast to now, I actually practice or take action to do or learn about one or more of these things frequently. My moving across the country was the force that I needed to change the inertia of my complacency.

So the next time you’re wondering whether something, someone, or some place is right for you, ask yourself this: Does it make your heart feel light and free? Do you instantly say “YES!” and a big smile would spread across your face? Or does it make your body feel uneasy? Does your teeth clench or your chest tighten?  Does your head shake “No” involuntarily? If you can answer yes to either of these questions, then you may have found your answer.

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