Being Open Hearted

I was recently writing a difficult letter to a friend. I thought a quote would make it easier to understand what I was trying to say,

“A guarded heart that protects from sadness, also protects from love.”

Thinking there are no original thoughts, I figured I heard the quote somewhere, so I googled it. And then I was really sad.

There were so many quotes about a guarded heart. And the quotes weren’t telling me to open my heart, instead that I should have a guarded heart. I should keep it protected. I should shield it from other’s hurt and be closed.

I admit to having my fair share of heartache and I know it freaking hurts!

Thankfully I got through it (a few times) and eventually the memory of the pain subsided with time (and therapy – the girlfriend and professional type).

But sitting there seeing quote after sad quote – I was simply sad. It was a vivid reminder of how many people in the world are hurting in their heart, and we don’t know it, because we can’t see it. I had this urge to run around New York and hug people just to spread some love (but I’m actually sort of shy to do something so bold). Don’t worry, this isn’t a letter asking you to stand on the street corner with a “Free Hugs” sign (although kudos for you if that’s your MO).

This letter is a reminder. A reminder that we all have a lot of crap going on and much of it really messes with our hearts, and most people aren’t in tune with it. Regardless of how we might judge other people’s crap… “Is that really a big deal?”… “Get over it already!” – it’s important to that person. Their heart really aches; that’s all that matters.

The next time the “jerk” at the (fill in the blank… coffee shop, grocery store… stop sign) pisses you off just consider for a moment that they might be dealing with a lot of heartache and not acting like the person they want to be. I think we’ve all had at least one moment of stupidity, and maybe even meanness, when our heart felt crushed.

I believe that if we all gave each other the benefit of the doubt, the world would be a little bit sweeter. Conflict will never go away. My wish for everyone’s sake is that we learn to work through conflict with an open heart – from a compassionate place. A place that assumes the other person means well, an empathetic place. We all could use a little empathy.

My challenge to you: be super kind. If it’s just for a day, that’s a start. Do whatever you can to shift the world a little bit towards being a sweeter place. Smile a little more at people, acknowledge store clerks by their name, bring the office curmudgeon a coffee, go out of your way to help someone… whatever you can do, do it!

I intend to keep my heart open; I want to fully feel the love knowing it might get a little bruised occasionally. What about you?