O is for Openness

Punta Sur, Cozumel Mexico Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Punta Sur, Cozumel Mexico
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I try to be open to new experiences and ideas.  There was a time when I was such a know-it-all that I thought I was open minded, but I really wasn’t.  I would listen to the other person and then tell them why they were wrong.  Or, I would automatically discount something because I thought I wouldn’t like it.

As time went on, I realized that the people I admired were the ones who listened, and who would change their minds if something convinced them.  I admired the people who considered every point of view.  And I admired the people who were willing to try anything.

So, I decided to be more like them.  It’s not always easy.  There are times I find myself relapsing into my know-it-all ways.  I just try to catch myself at it, and move on.  Over time, I’ve realized that I don’t have to be right, and I certainly don’t have to have all the answers.

I feel like I keep being presented with life lessons, and I try to be open enough to learn them.  For instance, because I’m a writer, I tend to make up stories about strangers.  The problem is that there’s sometimes a fine line between “creative story exercise” and “being judgmental.”  The reason I say this is that there are times when I find myself jumping to conclusions about someone based on how they look, and then they end up proving me wrong.

I used to feel ashamed of myself for these times when I found myself being judgmental, but now I’m just glad that I’m open enough to be continually learning lessons.

Everyone has something to teach me.  It’s up to me to be open to it.

Life Lessons

On Wellness Wednesdays, I post about a topic related to wellness.

“I have learned silence form the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind, yet strange, I am ungrateful for those teachers.”

-Khalil Gibran

San Tan Mountain Regional Park, Arizona Photo Credit: Doree Weller

San Tan Mountain Regional Park, Arizona
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I believe that we’re all presented with the same lesson in life, over and over, until we learn it.  People and situations may annoy or upset us, but the truth is that everything can be a learning experience.

It’s difficult because we don’t get letter grades for these experiences.  No one marks up our experience with a red pen, showing us exactly what we need to improve.  Instead, we have to figure it out.

The best way to figure out how you’re doing in learning about something in particular is by how it makes you feel.  If it upsets, angers, frustrates, or makes you afraid, you may have more to learn from it.  The more intensely you feel, the more important the lesson.

People who won’t shut up irritate me.  They talk and talk, repeating themselves, and usually end up saying very little.  I recently had yet another encounter with one of these individuals.  He was a member of my writer’s critique group, and he gave good feedback, but it was buried within a speech to rival the length of War and Peace.  I tried to let him know, gently, that it was difficult for me to hear what he was trying to tell me when he repeated the same thing over and over.  I think I hurt his feelings, and soon after, he dropped out of the group.  I still feel bad about that, wondering if what I said made him want to leave.

I have two lessons to learn here.  I’m honestly not sure what the first lesson is; I’m still trying to figure it out.  Perhaps that I need to listen, even when I don’t want to?  Or perhaps how to give better feedback?  The second lesson is most definitely that the world doesn’t revolve around me, and if he chose to drop out of group, that was his choice, and I didn’t “cause” it.

If I insulted him, he could have spoken to me about it.  He could have ignored me or told me to go to hell.  I’m not responsible for the choices he made, and likely his choice to leave group didn’t have anything to do with me at all.

What lessons are you still working through?

Groundhog Day

On Motivational Mondays, I normally share something short to start the week.  I’m going to do that, but then you’ll get bonus content for Groundhog Day.

“Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.”

-Author Unknown

What I like about this quote is that it encourages us all to live today.  We’ve all made mistakes, and while we can’t undo those mistakes, we can move on with our lives.  Even if we’ve hurt someone, we can make the choice to take responsibility and move on.  So remember your past, but don’t live there.

th-1Speaking of living in the past, we went to see Groundhog Day in the Alamo on Sunday afternoon.  Now, that’s a great movie!   People gather annually on February 2 in Punxsutawney, PA to see Punxsutawney Phil.  If he sees his shadow, there’ll be six more weeks of winter weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

The 1993 movie Groundhog Day used this festive occasion as the backdrop for the story of another Phil, a TV weather reporter and modern day grinch.  Phil is one of those guys who nothing suits.  He mostly just wants to be miserable but have people admire him and look up to him.

Spoilers ahead!  You’ve been warned.  (The movie is from 1993; if you haven’t seen it by now, don’t you think it’s time?)

For some reason, Phil ends up living Groundhog Day over and over in an endless loop.  At first, he wastes his time, eating junk food, drinking a lot, and doing whatever he wants.  After awhile, he decides to start killing himself.  When that doesn’t work, he works on bettering himself through knowledge and hobbies.  In the final phase of his development, he works on being a better person, helping out people in the town and generally making himself loved.

I like this movie because it shows a transformation of the man from total jerk to really great guy.  I believe that in life, we’re all presented with the same lesson over and over until we learn something.  Of course, I’ve never lived the same day over and over, but that’s essentially the message I take away from this movie.  Phil had something important to learn, and it took him a long time, but he eventually did.

When life presents you with a challenging circumstance, you have options on how to handle it.  My favorite way is to ask myself: What am I supposed to learn from this?  When I turn a bad situation into a learning experience, it seems to make it easier and more manageable.  After all, the sooner I learn that lesson, the sooner I can move onto the next lesson.

Have you seen Groundhog Day?  What are your thoughts on the movie, or on life’s lessons?