Tools for Tough Times: Guard Your Heart

To thrive is to grow vigorously and flourish, to make progress and prosper.  Yes, it is possible to grow vigorously and flourish, make progress and prosper in our toughest times.  We can come out of difficulties with more than we brought into them.

It will come down to how we care for the heart – the mind, will, and emotions that underlie our living and responding. That means if we aim to thrive, the heart of the matter is indeed a matter of the heart. 

How can we move beyond simply trying to survive and into thriving?  The following are a few ideas and tips to consider.

Guarding your heart is a critical skill for remaining in good emotional health in times of difficulty and crisis.  What does it mean to “guard the heart?”

Guarding your heart involves training the mind to see good as well as opportunity in everything.  This means we make the choice to not be swayed by circumstances and people.  It is a critical skill we can all grow in our daily living.  The current difficulties are an unusual opportunity for this, for we can only effectively practice this skill in difficulties. 

Guarding the heart involves the firm belief that you will thrive.  People endure setback, disease, and disaster with calm and focus.  There are people who change jobs and move across the country with little emotional disruption.  There are people who get divorced amicably.  Others face into job loss, disease, injury, or financial setbacks with calm, focus, and the resolve to see it through to a good outcome.  

Guarding the heart is a daily practice of the mind and the emotions.  How can people grow and thrive even though things seem to be crumbling, and usually emerge stronger in heart at the end? Such courage and heart-strength come when we make habits that encourage the heart.

Pro Tip: Int he previous post I talked about the “One Minute Pause,” by which we stop negative thinking and choose instead positive thoughts and emotions.  The One Minute Pause is a tool to help you make good thought choices daily.  When you notice negativity, fear, anger, bitterness, fatigue, or hopelessness, stop the train.  Use the one-minute pause to reorient and send your thinking in a new and positive direction. 

Guarding the heart includes investing in positivity daily.  You can do this in several ways.  Make your work and home environments more visually positive with attract positive messaging.  Even positive messages on sticky notes can work. 

Pro Tip: Do the next thing.  When you seem down, overwhelmed, uncertain, or struggling to find hope, find what needs to be done next and simply do it.  Then do the next.  Then the next. Progress promotes positivity and encourages us.  Forward movement lightens the burdens and encourages hope.

Guarding the heart means committing to speaking positively with others and avoiding dwelling on negatives.  This is hard to do when things seem dark, but it can be done.  This is a learned skill that requires focus and practice, but you will be amazed how it lightens your outlook and encourages your heart.

What we are learning here is that endurance in disaster, difficulty, or crisis is a matter of guarding our own hearts.  When we are effectively guarding our own hearts, we not only thrive but are also able to encourage the hearts of others.

Now, let’s hear from the ancients on this.  King Solomon of ancient Israel gave us wise advice:

Guard the heart, for it is the wellspring of life

Image via Author, from Mt. Dana, Yosemite National Park.

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