Filling Your Heart Instead of Your Pocket

Originally Published in the Huffington Post

Life is a series of choices, a journey and not a destination. When is the last time you made a major life decision/choice based on whether it would bring you joy? If you are like me, about August this past year I came to the shocking realization that the answer for me was never. All of my major life choices had been made around having purpose, life fulfillment, life bucket lists, accomplishments, but never joy.

I write to you from the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, and this piece has been 9 weeks in the making about a journey that feels like 9 years in the making. It took being stripped completely of things for years I had worked very hard for, and being broken open MANY times over for me to finally have no other options, but to go and find the courage to leave what wasn’t serving me and creating time to just be and reconnect with joy. Joy- this thing that I was never taught to use as a measuring stick for success or as a basis of decision making. I was never taught this at home with my family from Central America, at school from grade school through my masters degree, or at any job I ever had in the corporate world, or any workshop or talk I went to for entrepreneurs. The word or concept of “joy” was absent from any teachings that came into my life.

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Yet on this journey of self care, solo travel, and curiosity through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Bali, along came the best life advice I had ever been given. In late November I visited Koh Tao, Thailand to get my advanced PADI diving certification and had been encouraged to meet with a French Reiki Master living on the island for 40 years. Needless to say she was one of the most insightful and incredible women I have ever met, but she shared these words with me, “Change your eyes-see the world with your heart.” If I actually listened and did this every single moment, life would instantly be different.

Up to leaving on my journey November 8th 2017, so much of western influence had taken control over my life with more focus on what I put in my pocket versus my heart. By 36 turns around the sun, life had also taught me again and again that what we put in our pockets can be gone in a flash. Believe I know, and have lost my entire net worth 3 times to be exact! Not due to irresponsibility, but due to market conditions, life curveballs, and taking risks to pursue dreams like starting a business. I’ve also learned that if we only fill our pocket and not our hearts, the fuel filling the pocket becomes almost like a poison and we know there is going to be a lifelong quest for more because more in our pocket is never enough in life.

A pocket as the tool for measuring success in most of the western world is the standard, but no, no the measuring stick should be how full and light our heart is. Are we full of love, radiating love and joy to ourselves and those around us, making a positive impact on our planet? These things my dear friends are success. I’ve lived on both sides, a full pocket, and a very empty pocket with a full heart. A full heart will win every time and put you in a position to find the means to create and rebuild that pocket or anything else you want in life.

Coming to the realization that my life had been so absent of joy, but full of accomplishments, trials, failures, and epic experiences, it was clear something major had to shift and quick. In these situations we have a choice, to either listen to our internal voice screaming at us to make a change, or to power through and keep going down a direction our heart knows is fundamentally wrong. While it might seem simple, follow your gut, that in this case would come with the complexity of dissolving a life built with a lot of effort and grit. It was one of those moments in which leaving was scary, but the idea of staying on the same path was even scariers. So off I went and gave away or got rid of 80% of my belongings, my nice San Francisco Twin Peaks apartment, put whatever little I chose to keep (mainly my beloved outdoor gear) in storage, left my cat Oliver with my dad, set a date in my head to close my company that I had poured my entire life’s savings into, and a date to buy my plane ticket to leave for a while with the intention to rebuild and reconnect with joy. It was like ripping off a very painful bandaid at the moment, but once all the “stuff” was gone, it was clear as day the right decision had been made. In closing one company, I would fortunately be keeping a second one I had started, but knew I needed time and space to grieve my loss and get inspired to create again.

I called this my joy and love and trip, a reconnection with everyday joy and self love. It’s the easiest thing in the world to beat yourself up for everything and anything after you’ve experienced failure in life. The hard part is acknowledging the failure, taking in the lessons, and honoring yourself for picking up the pieces and getting up stronger than ever before. I am incredibly grateful for all the beautiful souls that were a part of this journey-old connections, new connections, and those that just passed through. There were so many incredible moments of synchronicity that somehow made all the chaos make perfect sense. More importantly, I am living a new way, with new eyes on my heart, and knowing a pocket is important to surviving, but not to success and thriving, for that you have your heart.

When you have nothing to lose, you realize you have everything to gain. You start to assess what all those “things” you lost actually meant. You then look around at what you have left, both literally and inside of yourself, to determine how you will now rebuild. It’s a look at your pocket and heart so to speak.

How do you choose how you want to live and make those big life decisions? Are you filling your heart this year or your pocket? I am not saying you have to choose one over the other, but I hope for you, like I do for me, that my heart and joy takes every priority this year and every year to come thereafter.