Many years ago I wrote about something called “The Open Your Heart Experiment”. This experiment stemmed from a challenge suggested by an author named Virginia Hinckley Pearce, who wrote the book, “A Heart Like His: Making Space for God`s Love in Your Life”. Here is what I shared about The Open Your Heart Experiment:
“The experiment is not a difficult one to participate in and it doesn’t require that you do anything out of your way even. The experiment is that everyone, in the ordinary course of your life, without putting any extra activities into your day, no extra visits to people, no taking dinners to anyone or going out of your way to do a task for someone else, without requiring any extra activity at all, all you have to do is to be more aware of the condition of your own heart as you go throughout your normal activities of your day. And as you stay aware of the condition of your heart, you keep it more open to others. That is it. You don’t have to do anything special, you just have to notice how your heart is feeling toward others and be sure to keep it open to them in your normal course of the day.
When you see someone and you normally might try to hurry by them because you are in a hurry, or when you get in an elevator and you normally look down because you are embarrassed that you don’t know the other person’s name, or when you see someone looking sad and you pretend you didn’t catch it because you don’t want to get sucked into a conversation about their woes…When you have those situations arise throughout your day, which they always do, instead of hurrying by or looking down or avoiding a glance, notice your own heart and open it to the other person. You don’t have to make the other person your “project” and you don’t have to adopt them as your child or make them your new BFF – no you just have to open your heart enough to notice them, validate them, and encourage them. That is it. And then you can continue on with your day.
The aim of the experiment is to open your heart, and when you do you will find that you stop judging others, and most of all, you change your attitude toward others. And when you change your heart to others it allows you to feel more of God’s love for you, which makes you happier and even more excited to love others…it’s a circle effect that just keeps growing stronger and wider. And it all starts with you opening your own heart to others. As you go throughout the day you have to stay very aware of anytime you feel your heart snapping shut or shriveling up toward someone and then you have to stop it. When someone irritates you, stop yourself from feeling irritated by opening your heart and choosing to look for the good in them. When someone looks sad, take a moment to let them know that they matter -it could be as simple as a kind word or a smile or a quick comment or note. It won’t take you more than one minute to do it, but the effects it will have in your life will be tremendous.”
This experiment is a powerful one and its, without question, worth trying! I’ve tried it for myself and it definitely works. And the result of keeping an open heart toward others is everything Virginia suggested it would be. Trying it for yourself you will find, just as I did, that opening your heart helps you to avoid negative feelings such as being irritated, critical, annoyed, discouraged, angry, bitter, hostile, and self-absorbed. You will also find that opening your heart toward others creates ENERGY! It also makes you more confident, it keeps you motivated, it causes you to feel more capable, it inspires you to want to be better, it enables you to endure hardships with far more ease, it leads to stronger relationships with others, and simply put, IT MAKES YOU HAPPIER! And heaven knows we could all handle having more HAPPY in our lives!
Try the experiment yourself and get ready to BRING ON THE HAPPY!
~Amy Rees Anderson