Four Tactics to Cultivating an Open Mind

Being human is messy. There’s no other way around it. However some of us embrace life and the people around us with this knowledge, while others take this notion for granted. The greatest irony amongst the living is that the more life we live, the more closed off we become.
I urge you to think about this for a moment. Remember the last time your heart broke. Whether it was because of a severed relationship, the loss of a close friendship or even an illness and then ask yourself did that heartbreak prompt you to be cautious the next time? Did that heartbreak close you?
It happens every day. Every time our heartbreaks we feel the urge to close ourselves from the world. We develop defense mechanisms to protect us from future pain. We laugh instead of cry. We hurt others before they have the opportunity to hurt us. We even keep our distance and limit how vulnerable we will become in front of others. Sometimes we decide to never let anyone get close to us again. We fear life and all the pain that is has brought, so much so that closing off becomes the only way to continue on with life.
But what happens when we don’t close ourselves off? What happens if we do the exact opposite —stay open?
When we stay open we are happier. I know that right now this may be hard to believe, but it’s true. When we stay open we carry less baggage (you know the kind that slowly eats us up inside), we judge others less, we accept that with the good must come the bad and we love life more. Being open allows us to continue to get up every day with excitement for what may come being closed does the exact opposite.
So are you ready to let go of resentment and move forward and face the new day? If you are I have complied a small list to help you on your way.
Practice Mindfulness
The easiest way to lower anxiety and quiet the mind is to live in the present moment. It is when we get ahead of ourselves and over plan for the future that we begin to set unrealistic expectations that create anxiety. When we spend time in the past we overanalyze life that has already happened, life that cannot be changed. But when we exist in the here and now, we are happy. The present moment is the place to be.
Replace Every No With a Yes
Being closed off forces us to be rigid. We see life as linear and we never see that there could be other directions. But guess what there are numerous directions.
Start living your life and start by saying YES.
To be open is to be wholeheartedly open to opportunities and chances, as they exist around you. And yes, often when we are asked to do something that is outside of our wheelhouse we immediately say no, but what would happen if we started saying yes. Say yes to life. Say yes to new experiences, opportunities, belief systems and even a new way of thinking. You never know what saying yes may bring.
Practice Listening
How many times have you been in a conversation with someone and before you’re finished they’ve already barked an answer at you? How does this make you feel? Before we seek to be understood we should seek to understand.
The art of listening to others (I mean really listening) has fallen to the wayside. But when we cut people off before they’re finished not only are we being rude but we’re also buying a one-way ticket to judgment city. This is not where we want to be. To remain open we need to listen to others, thoughtfully and intently. We never learn if we never listen.
Stop Judging
Wow. This is so hard. I can remember a time a few years back where I judged as often as I took a breath. Not kidding. But that was probably my biggest indicator of how unhealthy I was. If judgment has become automatic for you, then let it be your indicator as well that there is something deeper going on inside of you. Not with the person you are judging, YOU.
When you judge I encourage you to pause, take a moment to understand, accept what is (as it is) and love. Remind yourself that judgment is a defense mechanism that is used to block the mind from something deeper that is going on within. You are not meant to be perfect, you are just meant to be.
Having an open mind can be as simple as reminding yourself that life is never as it appears to be. When we remain open we embrace others for why they are rather then whom we see them as. We embrace authenticity. Not only within others but also more importantly within ourselves. The open and honest life is that I aspire to have. How about you? Will you remain open to life as it comes?
Let me know in the comments below.

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