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!