Recently, I saw a great video retrospective on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic winter games. I can’t find a link for you to see it yourself, dang it, but one phrase that really stood out for me was, “We all like to let our hearts show.”

We do, don’t we? We all like an opportunity to be open with our emotions, and to share the emotions of others. It touches us, warms us, connects us. Even when the emotion is a painful one, there’s still something amazingly humanizing about raw, genuine feelings on display.

But it’s not always the safest thing to do. It’s not socially acceptable to be open with our emotions in every environment. In some workplaces, playgrounds, and even homes, showing emotion leaves us open for ridicule. It can damage our credibility, make us appear weak. It’s not always ‘cool’ to care.

That’s part of why we get so worked up about the things it is ‘cool’ to care about, like the Olympics. Or charitable work. It’s ok for a big-time business man to get teary-eyed about mentoring inner city kids, even if he could never show that kind of emotion in a business meeting. No one thinks less of the tough fireman for loving rescue dogs, although he’s expected to be made of steel at the scene of a tragic accident.

This is kind of nice, but is it for the best? Does it make sense to have designated sections of life where we’re allowed to care, and others where we’re supposed to do our best impression of ice sculptures? I’m not sure – maybe we wouldn’t want people in certain situations (like house fires) to be too touchy-feely and sensitive. But something strikes me as unhealthy about restricting caring and emotion to only part of our lives.

It seems to me that the world would be a better place if we could all “let our hearts show” whenever we wanted to. Thoughts?