Amy Rees Anderson

The Open Your Heart Experiment

A few years ago I was invited to hear a talk being given by author Virginia Hinckley Pearce. In her talk she shared with us an experiment that she did that led her to write her book called “A Heart Like His: Making Space for God`s Love in Your Life”. It was awesome. And as part of her book and in her talk she issued a challenge to everyone to try an 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.

Then the last step of the experiment is to come together and honestly report what happened or hadn’t happened.  If any of you reading this want to try the experiment over the upcoming week and then share your experiences, please feel free to do it by sharing your stories on this blog post.  It would be awesome to see the impact this little experiment will have in all of our lives this coming week. I have a feeling that the impact of this experiment will be more than any of us could ever imagine.

The following quotes from the book she wrote explains some of the things her group discovered in doing this experiment:

“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.” – John H. Groberg

“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!”

Hearing her share the results of this little experiment made me so excited to try it myself. My kids and I tried it after hearing her talk and I can honestly tell you that we saw amazing results. It’s truly incredible how many times you find yourself having a knee jerk reaction to snap your heart shut during the day without even realizing it – until you start the experiment and you begin to catch it happening. I found my heart snapping shut over and over throughout the day and I would immediately go “hold up chica – you have to open your heart here!” and I would quickly change my feelings toward the other person and look at them with an open and softer heart, and the change in the situations was nothing short of incredible. It’s hard to describe, but as each of you choose to join this experiment you will see firsthand what I am talking about!

Have an amazing weekend everyone and remember to OPEN YOUR HEART!

~Amy

5 Comments

  • steve says:

    “It’s truly incredible how many times you find yourself having a knee jerk reaction to snap your heart shut during the day without even realizing it…”

    I cannot tell you how palpable that statement resonated with me, Amy. Just a tremendously powerful yet simple message you deliver in this post.

    Just fantastic… all I can say is thank you.

  • henry says:

    Can you open your heart? Can you give something of yourself that is beyond time, treasure and emotional energy? Can you give your heart to a hurting world, openly, honestly, without regret?

    It is inordinately difficult, this giving of our heart and often painful beyond bearing. Parents understand this; lovers understand it; husband and wife understand it; and at least once upon a time, at the moment of salvation, we Christians and our Savior understood it. The gift of the heart is a gift given from person to person, one person at a time. It always includes time, treasure, and emotional energy, but it is always more than that.

    It starts with our own self. Can you, can I accept myself, just as I am, just as Jesus accepted me? Can I extend a blessing, a blessing to be well, happy, and fulfilled to my own person? It is harder than it sounds. If we can not love ourselves, how can we love our families, our neighbors, strangers, or even our enemies, as our Lord commands?

    Would we do anything possible to spare another from pain, from suffering? I have known parents, grandparents who honestly would go through anything to spare their children or grandchildren from suffering and pain. Can we open our hearts to another in that same way? No matter what the risk. No matter what the cost.

    Can I find unconditional joy in the success and happiness of another, even as I suffer failure, disappointment, or betrayal?

    It is very dangerous this gift of the open heart. To expose ourselves that completely to another, to open ourselves to pain, disappointment, betrayal, and even death, is dangerous beyond words.

    If we open our hearts to another we will experience pain. It is inevitable. The center of the human heart is tender beyond imagination. But ultimately, this gamble is what makes us human. In seeking freedom for others, without conditions, without limit we ultimately become free.

    Some Catholics and a few Orthodox practice a meditation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In this devotion they come to understand that Christ’s Divine Heart and his love for a fallen hurting world, His love for you, and His love for me, are inseparable.

    John 3:16 (NIV)

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    In picturing this meditation on the mystery of the incarnation, Jesus is showing his heart and the wounds he suffered on the cross. The perfect model of the love of God the Father and the love of neighbor is portrayed as a heart on fire surrounded with a crown of thorns. If that makes no sense to you, ask the parent of a teenager; ask a lover; and above all ask your own heart.

    It will answer you.

    His ministry here on earth cost Jesus in terms of time, treasure, and emotional energy. I imagine He found His life here on earth extremely painful and disappointing, even before His crucifixion. Can we expect anything different?

  • Doug says:

    Hello Amy~

    I think there is a ‘good’ bottom line to all that you are saying here and it is -in a word-simply this:

    “Blessed are the PURE IN HEART: for they SHALL see God”-Matthew 5:8

    I agree. Kind of ‘sums it all up’, pretty nicely, wouldn’t you say?

    God Bless You !

  • Karma says:

    magnificent points altogether, you just won a new reader.

  • Anibal says:

    You made some really good points there. I checked on the web for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Now Available
What Awesome Looks Like: How to Excel in Business and Life
by Amy Rees Anderson
Order Your Copy
Recent Posts
Archives
Follow Me
Subscribe

Get Amy's Blog posts sent in your inbox




Subscribe to RSS Feed for Amy's blog



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers