Have you noticed how no one asks us to open our hearts and minds to unpleasantness? No one says, go on, embrace the pain of divorce, the grief of death. Revel in the identity uncertainty and financial
insecurity of job loss. No one asks us to speak of how, barring a miracle, a person’s life is ending within weeks. We don’t talk in polite company about the poor decisions that lead to a company closure, the immoral ones that lead to an economic recession, or the dishonest ones that jeopardize our future.
When it comes to bad news, we find ourselves tongue-tied. When forced to speak, we turn to platitudes.
Life doesn’t have to be this way.
We can make life easier for ourselves when we open our hearts and minds to unpleasant truths. Openness is a way of living that can be learned. It starts with making the choice to live with an open heart and an open mind.
Open Your Heart
When we live in openness, we are genuine in our approach to others. We speak the truth as we see it, with honesty and respect. We both hold and share our trust and our love. We are willing to receive as well as to give, to take care of others and ourselves. When we live in openness we choose to make ourselves vulnerable to unpleasant truths, to experience uncomfortable emotions.
It is difficult for us to be in openness with a person who is experiencing painful emotions. To have an open heart requires that we put ourselves in other persons’ shoes. To feel what they feel, to recognize that what they’re experiencing could happen to us.
Yet when we can be open to others’ feelings, with empathy, we play an important role in helping them heal. We take charge of our own healing from the emotional pain we have experienced in our own lives.
Likewise, it is difficult for us to be in openness with a person whose point of view is diametrically and emphatically opposed to our own. To have an open mind when information threatens us requires that we pry open our own mind to consider the merits of another’s case.
Yet when we can be open to others’ thoughts, without judgment, it is easier to remain calm. It is not necessary to make those ideas our own and change our lives, but with an open mind, we can be thoughtful and respectful when we engage with others. We exhibit the acceptance that we need others to exhibit in the face of our own strongly held beliefs.
Choose to Open a New Book in Your Life
Openness is not like eating vegetables – something that we should do because it is good for us. Openness is a choice.
Just as we cannot pour more water into a glass that is already full, we cannot put more words into a book that is already written. Our lives are not like a glass of water. Our lives are like a book filled with many chapters. From time to time, we need to bind together some chapters into a volume, close the book and open a new one.
If you want to begin living life with openness, close the book that is your life up to this point. Push aside your old thoughts and your old habits and adopt the desire to make a change to the way you are living.
You can open a new volume and keep writing your life story. With practice in a new way of thinking and feeling, of embracing new thoughts and emotions, will come a new way of living.
“When writing the story of your life,
don’t let anyone else hold the pen”
~ Harley Davidson
Openness is so important to me that it is my Seventh Amendment. I have the right to be open to all thoughts and emotions.
Life Is Honest, Open and True
If you want to change the story of your life, bind together the chapters that have already been written and start a new volume. Buy a journal and begin writing about how making some changes might benefit you. Next time you encounter a difficult situation, write your thoughts into your journal. Not a writer? Turn on a tape recorder. Talk to yourself in the shower. The thoughts are within you, you can learn what you think and what you feel when you express yourself freely.
Related Post: Respect
If you want to learn more about how to do this, Byron Katie offers four simple questions that she calls “the Work” and that are profoundly useful in letting go of the beliefs that make us miserable.