“Wherever you go, go with all your heart,” so Confucius said some 2500 years ago, and his wisdom still holds true.

But how often do we heed it? How often do we go about our lives, our loves, our work, our friendships, our families, with all our heart?

This Valentine’s Day, what if you approached all of your life with all your heart? What if, even better, you didn’t reserve the precious gift of all your heart for your significant other, but gave it freely, willingly, to every aspect of your life?

I look at my dogs, my beloved animal companions, and whether they are eating, sleeping, chasing a leaf, riding in the car or snuggling by my side, they put all their heart into it. They are 100% engaged, enthusiastic, eager about whatever it is. How our lives would change if we would follow their example, their instinctive joy.

I know that there are moments when I feel myself listening, really listening, to a friend not just with my ears, but with my whole being, and somehow the interaction becomes charged with meaning, a depth it didn’t have before. There are moments when I lose myself in my work, in the most positive sense of the word, when the connection between the work and me is so strong, so powerful, that I surprise myself with what I’ve achieved. It’s not that I’ve suddenly turned super-star brilliant. Oh, no, I’m still the same old me, warts and all, but for a moment, when I put all my heart into that project, that piece of work, magic happens.

When you put all your heart into something, you set aside all doubts, all fears. More than that, you momentarily forget them, because you are so engaged, so present with the experience that there’s no room for self-questioning, self-doubt. You’re too busy focusing with laser-like intensity on whoever or whatever is in front of you. In those “all your heart” moments, you are confident without thinking about it, you are courageous without asking yourself if you could be brave, you are the best of who you are naturally, without effort, without strain.

I say “moments” advisedly, because putting all your heart into something or an interaction with someone takes intense focus. It takes being present with every fiber of your being, which frankly, isn’t the easiest thing to maintain. How dogs do it all the time, I have no idea. But what I do know is that one moment added to another moment and to another results in a span of time that can increase with practice. As with anything else you want to get good at, commitment, practice and persistence are the key.

Unless, of course, you’re a dog. Then, oh lucky you, you were just born with it!

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, consultant, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of over a dozen best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. She is the author of “Happy Healthy…Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right” (MindLab Publishing). You Matter. You Count. You Are Important. Visit www.noellenelson.com, https://www.facebook.com/MeetTheAmazings, #MeetTheAmazings, @drnoellenelson