The Heart, Head And Hands Approach

What are the activities where you use your heart, head and hands? Your heart feels you want to do the specific activity. Your head understands what you are doing. Your ‘hands’ bring something into being. Let’s explore where you do such work.

The Heart

What are the activities that make your heart sing? You may love gardening, painting, teaching, cooking, solving problems, climbing, writing, inventing or whatever. You feel entranced and carried-away.

Christopher Alexander, the author of The Timeless Way of Building, explains why it is important to follow this spirit when, for example, creating buildings. He wrote:

Each one of us has, somewhere in his heart, the dream to make a living world, a universe.

When you first see a pattern, you will be able to tell almost at once, by intuition, whether it makes you feel good or not: whether you want to live in a world which has that pattern in it, because it helps you feel more alive.

A man is alive when he is wholehearted, true to himself, true to his own inner forces, and able to act freely according to the nature of the situations he is in. To be happy, and to be alive in this sense, are almost the same.

Of course, a man who is alive is not always happy in the sense of feeling pleasant; experiences of joy are balanced by experiences of sorrow.

But the experiences are all deeply felt; and above all, the man is whole and conscious of being real.

Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific activities where you use your heart. You love doing these activities and they make your heart sing.

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The Head

What is the specific activity that involves both your heart and your head? Your heart really wants to do it. Your head has a model for making sense of what you are doing.

Entering a situation, you go ‘A, B … then leap to … Z’. You have a strong feeling – or perhaps have a picture – about the desired goal.

Starting from this destination, you work backwards to the present. You rehearse different strategies to see which is most likely to help you reach the goal. When you feel ready, you pursue your chosen strategy.

Sometimes there will be challenges. You will then use your knowledge to find creative solutions and maybe even redraw the route. You will keep your eyes on the goal, however, and continue until you reach the destination.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking at the activities you mentioned previously, which are the ones where you use both your heart and head? Try completing the following exercise.

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The Hands

When do you use your ‘hands’ to bring something into being? By ‘hands’ I mean, in some cases, literally your hands – to paint, build, fix, type or whatever. But in other cases it may be using your whole being – your experience, body, voice or whatever to produce a result.

You may be cultivating a garden, encouraging another person, teaching a class, implementing a solution or whatever. Translating intention into action, you do something that aims to improve the world. It is about creating, rather than consuming.

When does this happen for you? Describe the activities where you use your heart, head and hands. Try completing the following exercise.

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How do you feel when doing these activities? One person said:

“I am so involved that I forget myself but, afterwards, I feel more real, more myself.”

How can you do more of these things in the future? If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific activity you would like to pursue where you use your heart, head and hands.

Describe the specific things you can do to pursue this activity by, for example, translating it into doing a specific project.

Describe the specific benefits of doing the specific project where you use your heart, head and hands.

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