Virginia Hinckley Pearce wrote a book called “A Heart Like His: Making Space for God`s Love in Your Life”. I first learned about her book a few years back when I was invited to hear her speak and in her talk she issued a challenge for all of us to try an experiment that turned out to be really powerful. Here it is:
In the ordinary course of your life notice how your heart is feeling toward others and be sure to keep it open to them in your normal course of your day. That’s the experiment No extra activities required, no added visits to people or having to go out of your way for anyone – all you have to do is to be more aware of the condition of your own heart as you go throughout the normal activities of your day and keep it more open to others. You just notice how your heart is feeling toward others and be sure to keep it open to them throughout the normal course of your 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 rather than at people, or when you see someone looking sad and you pretend you don’t notice because you don’t want to get sucked into a conversation about their woes – when you have those situations arise, 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 open your heart enough to notice them, validate them, and encourage them. That is it. Then continue on with your day.
Throughout the day stay very aware of anytime you feel your heart snapping shut or shriveling up toward someone and 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 can be as simple as a kind word or a smile or a quick comment or note…it won’t take you more than a minute to do it.
She warns that once you start the experiment you will likely be surprised at how many times in a day you’ll find yourself having a knee jerk reaction to snap your heart shut that you’ll need to stop from letting it happen. The more you catch yourself the quicker you’ll find how easy it is to change your feelings toward the other person and look at them with an open and softer heart.
She shared that those who do this experiment find they stopped judging others, and even more so, they change their attitude toward others. And as they change their heart toward others it allows them to feel more of God’s love for themselves, which made them happier and even more excited to love others more. The effect grows stronger and wider. And it all happens by just opening your own heart.
Some quotes from those who tried the experiment in her book are:
“Opening one’s heart creates energy. Closing one’s heart depletes energy.”
“We cannot help others feel God’s love when we are: irritated, critical, discouraged, annoyed, self-absorbed, angry, indignant, or filled with self-pity, hostility, or bitterness.”
“When filled with God’s love, we can do and see and understand things that we could not otherwise do or see or understand. Filled with His love, we can endure pain, quell fear, forgive freely, avoid contention, renew strength, and bless and help others in ways surprising even to us.”
“When we experience God’s love, we feel: acknowledged, accepted, validated, noticed, cared for, supported, encouraged, uplifted, motivated, inspired, comforted, healed, nourished, nurtured, changed, more confident, more able – precisely the ways we want others to feel when they are with us!”
Try the experiment for yourself 🙂
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )