“The intimacy that arises in listening and speaking truth is only possible if we can open to the vulnerability of our hearts.” —Tara Brach

As a mindful heart doctor, the heart has always intrigued me—not just as a physical organ but as a symbol of our emotions, the seat of our soul, and the essence of our humanity. After decades of medical practice and personal reflection, I’ve come to understand that healing and health are not solely matters of the body. They are deeply rooted in specific habits of the mind and qualities of the spirit.

These habits and qualities are what I’ve come to call “the seven timeless traits of the heart” that we all possess, waiting to be nurtured and developed. They offer everyone the opportunity to lead a more enriched and fulfilling life. I’ve dedicated myself to various mind-body practices, embarked on silent retreats, engaged with wisdom seekers and teachers, and immersed myself in diverse spiritual traditions to uncover these traits. The traits consistently emerged throughout this journey, transcending cultural and religious boundaries, and are common among my happiest and healthiest heart patients.

These seven traits are steadiness, wisdom, openness, wholeness, courage, lightness, and warmth. They serve as personal strengths and boundless inner resources for facing life’s difficulties with poise and skill. They manifest in my interactions with patients, helping them navigate life’s challenges and uncertain diagnoses effectively.

Steadiness allows us to remain calm and resilient in the face of adversity, providing a stable emotional foundation. Wisdom enables us to make choices that are best for our overall well-being, integrating both intuition and learned knowledge. Openness involves maintaining an attitude of curiosity and flexibility, which is essential for personal growth and understanding. Wholeness is about embracing all aspects of oneself and striving for a balanced life. Courage encourages us to face our fears and challenges with bravery and integrity. Lightness invites us to let go of burdens that weigh us down, fostering a sense of ease and joy. Warmth is the genuine compassion and kindness we extend toward ourselves and others, which is vital for building strong relationships.

Why Focus on Traits?

Pursuing a fulfilling and meaningful life has been a timeless human endeavor. From ancient philosophers to modern thinkers, the quest to define the essence of a “good life” has been central to our existence. By aligning our lives with health-promoting beliefs and behaviors, we naturally gravitate toward choices that foster resilience, flourishing, and fulfillment. These traits lead to a more profound and enduring personal transformation in a world that often prioritizes speed and instant gratification.

Why These Traits?

While I have yet to conduct formal research to validate this particular set of attributes empirically, they have resonated deeply throughout my journey as a heart specialist and a seeker of wisdom. Among the numerous virtues and positive characteristics, these seven have stood out across various cultures and religions, steering human character and behavior toward empathy, kindness, compassion, and love.

Here are some questions to ponder:

1. Which of the seven traits do you feel strongest in, and how has it influenced your life?

2. Is there a trait you would like to develop more? What actions could you take to cultivate it?

Here are some tips to help you nurture these traits:

  • Steadiness: Cultivate inner calm by practicing meditation or deep breathing techniques daily.
  • Wisdom: Keep a journal to reflect on your daily experiences and decisions, helping you tap into the wisdom of your heart.
  • Openness: Challenge yourself to try something new each week, such as reading a book outside your usual genre or starting a new hobby.
  • Wholeness: Create a balanced schedule that includes time for work, relationships, personal growth, and rest.
  • Courage: Set a small, achievable goal that pushes you out of your comfort zone, and take the first step toward achieving it.
  • Lightness: Identify one thing you can let go of, whether it’s an old grudge or an unrealistic expectation, and work on releasing it.
  • Warmth: Make it a point to perform at least one act of kindness each day, whether it’s giving a simple compliment, making a thoughtful gesture, or helping someone in need.

These suggestions will help you reflect on and enhance your practice of these seven timeless traits. By fostering these timeless traits, we pave the way toward a more fulfilling and balanced life, embodying the essence of true health and happiness.

Excerpted from Just One Heart: A Cardiologist’s Guide to Healing, Health, and Happiness, by Jonathan Fisher, Manuscripts Press (April 7, 2024)


  • Dr. Jonathan Fisher is a cardiologist who focuses on healing the heart in the broadest sense, encompassing both the physical and emotional aspects of cardiac care. Educated at Harvard and Mt. Sinai, he is a mindfulness meditation teacher and organizational well-being leader. Reflecting on his journey, he shares, "I took care of 20,000 other hearts before taking care of my own.” His experience with anxiety and burnout has transformed his approach to health. Dr. Fisher has designed programs for an organization with 38,000 team members, reducing stress and enhancing well-being. He has delivered keynotes, workshops, and retreats for organizations globally across various industries. His efforts in addressing burnout in healthcare have garnered international attention, including co-founding the Ending Clinician Burnout Global Community and organizing the world’s first global summit dedicated to ending clinician burnout, with over a thousand participants from 43 countries. His best-selling first book, ”Just One Heart: A Cardiologist’s Guide to Healing, Health, and Happiness,” is about harnessing the power of the mind-heart connection.