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How to Get Everything You Want In Life

continued...

What further complicates this process for me and all women, I think, is our capacity for empathy, our penchant for caretaking, the way we can't seem to be truly satisfied unless we are doing something for someone other than ourselves. Our generous nature is the best of things about us, but we run into trouble when generosity turns into martyrdom and resentment, when our good intentions toward those we love deafen us to that quieter call of our own desires.

Over a breakfast of strong coffee, dried apricots, and granola, I asked my hiking companions how they knew when their truest voice was speaking. Tami, the owner of a marketing agency, has come to the Utah canyons from Sonoma, CA. The energy she feels around a heart's desire is completely different from what she feels about a "should." She feels a genuine pull, the excitement of what if, and also the fear. Following a heart's desire involves risk: starting her own business, falling in love, writing fiction, running a marathon for the first time. She has to try it, and she has to be willing to fail. When she is in the realm of the shoulds, she is 100 percent in her logical brain, and she has total confidence in her abilities-she is doing what her head knows she is good at, rather than what her heart longs to try. And the shoulds can be an important part of the process. "Sometimes," she says, "the confidence you build up from all the shoulds is what allows you to reach for your heart's desire."

I have an extremely competent analytical brain, so I've been told by the standardized testing people, and in many situations it serves me well. I am an excellent chess player, I usually know what is about to happen next in the movie, and I have been able to win most of the arguments with most of the men who have lived with me, without crying or slamming doors. But my overactive (some would say obsessive) analytical brain can be the biggest impediment to listening to my heart's desire. In fact, sometimes I have to trick my logical brain into looking the other way for a minute to give my intuitive brain the floor. I look into the short stories and novels I write to see if my heart's desire is hiding in their plotlines, and into my dreams, and into the most passionate advice I give my friends. I pay attention to what my body is doing when I talk or think about a new life path. Is my chest open or closed? Am I standing straight or slumping? And most important, am I breathing? And how deeply? If I can't remember the last time I filled my diaphragm with air, I am probably making the wrong decision.

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