There are three facets of openness that we must embrace in our lives in order to have and enjoy a truly great life.
The first is experiential openness. By remaining open to the joys and passions of life, it's unforeseen discoveries and its predictable ebbs and flows, we are able to include and enjoy all the joyous treasures that this life has to offer. However, in order to be open to the good, we also have to risk leaving ourselves open to the bad, the hurtful and the unhappiness as well. It is fear of this side of openness that encourages many of us to close off and retreat from the full experience of life. But that way lies death, of the spirit if not of the body - although science has show again and again that the presence of a rich and varied life, complete with highs and lows, is a strong and pervasive indicator of long life and strong health.
A second facet of openness is the openness of the mind, the ability to think clearly, to see all sides of an issue and to remain capable of understanding, respect and tolerance even in the midst of disagreement and debate. Of course, there are some who claim that an open mind risks "losing the brains it holds" and there is some small grain of truth to that maxim in that you don't want to blind yourself to critical thought and perception in your desire to remain open. But that is rarely the case if you have taken steps to cultivate a strong mind and good thinking skills. In reality, this statement is born of fear, often given as an excuse by those too afraid to see the other side of an issue (or to even be seen considering it) for fear that such questioning and consideration might injure their status, their standing or even their identity as a person. Some of us are just too tightly attached to, and too personally invested in, our stand on certain issues to risk a change of heart or of mind. Do not fall into this trap, for it gets snugger and more strangling the more we fidget in its grasp. Keeping an open (but well-trained mind) at all times is just good mental hygiene.
The third facet of openness is that of spiritual openness - being open to the Divine everywhere and at anytime, being capable of losing yourself in the embrace of spiritual ecstasy and being able to see the core of the Divine in the mundane or even the profane around us. When you are spiritually open, you can feel the hand of God in the light streaming through a stained glass masterpiece - or through a broken and dirty window in a bullet-riddled flophouse. You can recognize the face of the Creator in the beatific smile of a child - or in the haggard and degraded grimace of a drunk in an alley. You can embrace the Divine will in a sudden unexpected boon - and in the face of unrelenting tragedy and inescapable pain. The Spirit is everywhere - there is no place (and no face) where God is not. All such pretensions to the contrary are simply the artifacts of the limited and poorly attuned human mind unable to make that last final leap of faith.
Where are you open in your life? Where are you closing off or filtering life? Open your life to all that it has to offer and you will trade in a so-so life of safe and predictable flatness for a ride on the thrills-and-spills roller coaster of a truly great life.
by Soni Pitts