Starting the year 2021 with the letter H has got me wondering whether we needed more HOPE or HEART in our lives.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an Instagram post by influencer and vegan activist Ellen Fisher, which read:

“You wouldn’t expect to see results just by hoping to be healthy, would you?
No, you gotta put in the time and make living healthily a priority: you research, work on yourself, buy healthy foods, start getting to bed early, start exercising, work on your emotional health, read books for inspiration, try new healthy recipes, and so on.”

Same goes for everything else we wish to cultivate in our lives, doesn’t it?

What about sustainability?

Can we just ‘hope’ for sustainability to happen organically? I don’t think so.

Thing is, sustainability is not an interest we can choose to prioritize – or not – based on individual will. It’s not a preference; it’s an obligation, a duty that should be at the top of everybody’s list by now. Because it concerns us all. And while each of us should do what they can within their means, we shouldn’t forget that we need to operate as a whole. We’re in this together.

From Individualism to Collectivism

Thanks to Veronica Marquez, co-founder of the Confident and Compassionate Conversations Program, I’ve recently been exposed to the concept of ‘Resisting Love’.

Can we pay attention to the times in which we’ve resisted feeling, listening, acting with our hearts? I found that, many times, resistance occurs as a response to our own fears and insecurities.

Pushing back, creating barriers – rather than healthy boundaries – are defense mechanisms and sometimes ways for us to avoid going through the ‘real’ work. A work that asks so much more from us because it requires diving deep within ourselves – and that can feel particularly uncomfortable.

So we’ve become accustomed to creating divisions and separations. It makes us feel more in control. Yet what we actually need is connection. As artist and poet Cleo Wade beautifully expresses in her poem “Rooting for Eachother”:

“Do you think Mother Nature
cares that any of her
beautiful flowers
grow in an array
of shades and sizes?
Or that one grows
in this direction
and one grows in
that direction?
she puts all of them in her
magnificent garden
so they may
be together
and root for
each other.”

We humans are part of the same ecosystem; the same beautiful garden. We need one another and should learn to support each other.

As Wade goes on explaining in her book, Heart Talk: “We are here to connect, not compare. There is a reason we are not in this world alone. It is because we are all connected and need each other to function peacefully, purposefully, and powerfully.”

That is the only way we’ll manage to serve a better world. We can’t do the work on our own.

How many brains do you think we have?

According to Frédéric Laloux, author of Reinventing Organizations, “We turn out to have three brains: the one in our head, but also an autonomous brain in our heart and in our guts, as the latest research shows.

We’ve only found them in 1995. We could have discovered them earlier – it only took a coroner, a corpse, and a knife.

But in our world view – we believed that we need one boss for one system to operate.

Three brains with distributed intelligence for one whole system was unthinkable. Around 1995 though, when the internet emerged, we started to consider multiple, collaborative intelligence.” We are beginning to understand that embracing chaos and complexity is key, yet we still have a long way to go.

Let’s listen to the very heart of time!

Heart it is – I ended up concluding.

An open heart is definitely what we need for sustainability to become a way of life. And yes, tapping into our hearts involves some level of effort superior to hope. It doesn’t come as naturally to us to show up with open hearts because we’ve been taught to do exactly the opposite of that. We were taught to save our hearts for intimacy, for the few we love and trust in fact; the heart is vulnerable, the heart is weak, too much heart is dangerous. We have so much unlearning and relearning to do.

So to start 2021 with the mindset sustainability is asking us to adopt, I wish to leave you with a poem by Tara Mohr:

“New year. It will not be
what you plan or what you chart.
Remember, dear? It never is.

The lines will not run straight
or the surfaces be smooth.

After all, the curriculum
is given, not chosen.

New year.

Today, do not resolve
anything for yourself.
Resolve something for all of us.

The very heart of time
is begging us to never
wish for I again,
to ask only for us.”

Journaling Questions:

Notice when you resist having an open heart (competing instead of finding ways to collaborate, comparing and minimizing instead of encouraging and getting inspired, pushing away instead of welcoming and being curious etc.) How could you soften instead of giving into the resistance?

Bi-weekly Experience

Whenever you feel yourself shutting down try to envision what it would look like to show up with an open heart? What do you notice?

1 Comment

  • Dayna
    February 4, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Another great read Julie 🙌 and a very interesting question.

    As an optimist, I always thought ‘hope’ was the key to sustainability. I hoped that people would prioritise sustainability in their lives – and then we’d see things improve. But wishful thinking alone won’t get the results we need.

    Don’t get me wrong, hope has its place in the sustainable equation – our vision of a better world is what inspires us and gives us direction. But, I agree, heart is the driving force. Connection puts hope into action, encouraging us to open up and work together to achieve our vision for a better world.


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