If you’re anything like me, you’re a bit of a head case. I mean this quite literally.

Here’s a sort of funny example. Once upon a time, I thought I liked Shakespeare. Considering external influences, it was something I thought I should like: everyone in the circles that I ran in liked Shakespeare, there were so many free outdoor Shakespeare-in-the-park festivals, and popular culture quotes the guy so gosh darn much.

Yes, my head decided that it would be a very good idea to like Shakespeare. It sent my heart a memo instructing it that it should love the guy. As I sat on my picnic blanket, sipping root beer, watching Lady Macbeth plotting her evil plans, my head told my heart “see how great this is? Boy, you really like this.”

My heart dutifully tried to obey, mustering as much interest as it could in the plot, the costumes, and the funny look on the face of that guy in the balcony.

But the truth is, my heart doesn’t really dig Shakespeare’s works all that much. I can completely see how genius his plays are and understand why people like them. But I just don’t personally enjoy them all that much. Can you relate to something like this in your life? Something you feel that you should like, but you don’t? For years, my head thought I should like Shakespeare, and my heart just wanted to please my head.

It turns out that this head-heart dance wasn’t just limited to Shakespeare but to other areas of my life, too. I had a Ph.D. in a “hot” engineering field, was engaged to marry a “great” man; my head made decisions based on what it thought was optimal, and my heart tried to follow along. The result? I was living a life that looked good on paper, but I wasn’t actually very happy at all.

Then I had a revolution. Literally. My oppressed heart decided it was tired of taking orders from the all-powerful head and rebelled. The ultimate result, after a good deal of change, was a happier state of the union. Fast-forward a few years and now here is the routine: my heart decides what it likes, and my head figures out how to make it happen. This feels much better. My heart is able to do what it is good at—deciding what is fulfilling and joyful to me—and my head is able to do what it is good at—giving a reality check and then problem-solving.

I now live in a different world. A world where I ask myself what I like, what makes my heart giddy, and that is the direction in which I go.

When I found that my heart really loves working with people more than science, I became a life coach. When I found that my heart was not in love with my fiancé, I broke off our engagement. These decisions and changes were not without their challenges and emotional rollercoasters, but the ultimate result is that I am truly, madly, deeply happy in my life today. Even my head is happier because it gets to spend its time figuring out how to make things work: how to change careers, how to find love. My head does love a good challenge.

Where is your head holding you back? Where do you need to give your heart the microphone? Write a note and share.


As President of Handel Group® Life Coaching, Samantha Sutton leverages her analytical skills and deep care for others to anyone who is ready for change. She leads and manages a team of twenty talented Handel coaches who teach that the path to fulfillment comes from overcoming limiting thoughts and beliefs and designing new ones that work better. Prior to joining the Handel Group in 2008, Samantha earned a Ph.D in Biological Engineering from MIT and uses her structured engineering outlook to help clients engineer better lives for themselves.

Interested in focusing on what a “happy life” looks like to you and getting it? Check out our Design Your Life Weekends this fall in LA, NYC, Menlo Park, Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto.

*Image courtesy of Ap.