By Jennifer Garza
I’ve always considered myself an open person. I’ve loved meeting people from all walks of life and sharing experiences. But as we get older, we learn (sometimes unconsciously) to protect ourselves, to judge other people’s motives, and that connecting sometimes results in hurt. We develop shells without realizing it.
I recognized my shell after my brother died. He was a bartender at a seaside resort in South Carolina. After his death, my parents were inundated with letters from patrons – some who knew him for a few years, others who only saw him twice a year on family vacation. So many people were crushed to hear the news. Some even orchestrated services in other states to memorialize his life. Why? Because he took every opportunity to connect.
My brother was not shy about sharing the details of his life and his love for his family. One lesson I’ve learned from him is that connecting with others is a gift. I am surprised at what has happened in my life as result of this lesson. By being open to others, others have become more open to me. People smile more often, say hello, and tell me their stories. These connections and what we learn from them enrich us and become woven into our lives.
So how do you begin the process?
1. Set an intention to be open. Let the Universe know that you are willing. Don’t force connections – just allow. Once you allow, take action if your instincts prompt you.
2. Look for signs. Signs will guide you toward relevant experiences. The more you are open to signs from the Universe, the more signs you will see. Look at chance meetings and opportunities as more than coincidences – they are.
3. Learn from the positive and negative experiences that result from being open. Cherish wonderful connections, but learn from betrayals as well. If a person takes advantage of your kindness, perhaps they were sent for you to learn to assert yourself. If you allow someone to consistently lie to you despite knowing better, perhaps they are a vessel for you to learn to trust your instincts. The obstacles in life often give us the most opportunity to learn. Sometimes, they are an even bigger gift than the blessings.
Here’s to living a beautifully open life!
Jennifer Garza, M.S., has a master of science in counseling and psychology. She is a former therapist and has taught life enhancement classes at venues including college campuses, state conferences and prisons. She is the author of the inspiration journal “365 Days to Happiness: Use Your Strengths, Thoughts, and Dreams to Manifest a New Life.” Garza has been featured in Natural Health magazine, AOL, BusinessInsider.com, Young Entrepreneur.com, and on FTNS radio. Visit her website at www.authorjennifergarza.com or connect with her.