Indulge me here—think of 1 or 2 of your most vivid memories. It could be something really great or really tragic. Perhaps it was getting a job you like, a first date, having a child or perhaps it was a car crash, a traumatic health scare, or the like. The reason these experiences are so vivid to us, even years later, is that the events surrounding them momentarily interrupted our normal operating patterns. Whether it was fantastic or horrific, the event gently pulled or forcibly dragged our focus to the present moment and the unexpectedness of it dissolved our notions of what to expect from it thus making us completely vulnerable to all the possibilities—in terms of emotions, lessons and thinking—packed within the experience.
To live the good life, we need to operate from this state of being fully present and completely open. For some the good life is about having passion. You may have told yourself that it is the key to a good life. Others may yet have thought that it’s being adventurous, having great relationships, being at peace with yourself, and a whole host of other ideas. All of these qualities play a role in having a rich meaningful life, but I don’t personally believe that it is any of these. The number one quality I have found that will truly create that deliciously good life is absolute openness to the experience of every moment.
Now bear with me a bit as I break it down a bit. A good portion of us probably consider ourselves open-minded, but how often are we really and truly operating in a state that is open? We may say that we are open to meeting new people, exploring new places or trying new foods. But when it comes to the brass tacks of taking that first-step to do all these things we say we are open to, most of us are perpetually frozen in a state of complacency. And then we wonder why are lives do not move forward, why we are unhappy and why nothing excites us in a powerful and positive way.
You see I believe that our lives and who we are is the sum of our experiences and what we learn from those experiences. When we truly embody openness, we unlock ourselves to treasure troves of experiences that have the potential to challenge, inspire and define who we are in amazing and beautiful ways. So what does having an open operating state look like?
When you’re working from an operating state of being truly open, it means you are open both in your mind and in your heart to the total vulnerability of experiencing something you haven’t and to the vulnerability of the change—good or bad—that can occur within you as a consequence of the experience. Being open is a state of total surrender to an experience that involves the complete dissolution of any notion of how it is or could be.
Often times we decide to be open to an idea, thought and experience based on our notion of what we think it’ll be like. If we think it will feel good or not threaten us too much, then we engage. If otherwise, we shy away from it. But at a fundamental level this not a healthy way to approach and process an experience. I’m not saying to not assess risks or to just say yes to everything. What I am saying is that if our interest is peaked in doing something, we ought to give ourselves the total clarity that being completely vulnerable to the experience brings.
When you totally dissolve any notions of how you will feel through the experience then as you go through it you will find that your level of engagement with the experience is heightened in an almost unnatural way. Your five senses will be functioning on an intensified level and your mind will be curious about what you are going through and you will be fully in the present moment. And when you are completely in the present moment that is when you are truly starting to live.
All this will occur when you completely surrender yourself to the total vulnerability of the experiences you have. That is what being truly open means. And the really, truly neat thing about this is that when you commit yourself to going through every day’s experiences in this state you begin to notice and learn things you haven’t, every conversation and interaction you have with others becomes a fascination unto itself, and you are emboldened to seek out new experiences. You find that you are able to connect on what feels like a cellular level to the experiences and the people in your life because you are fully living in the present and awake in every moment. And when you look back, you will look back fondly on how rich the experience was.
How does the application of this concept translate into the good life? When you approach every moment with curiosity and fascination and with total surrender to the experience of each minute you breathe, then every second becomes an adventure. Your thought, feelings and senses are magnified and every conversation and action carries greater significance because you are completely immersed in the experience of it. In short you are living life awake and aware and living in this state will allow you to be there for the experience of everything else that comprises, per say, the good life. You could already be having the good life but if you’re not open and present to the experience of it you wouldn’t be living the good life. How amazing it would be if at the end of our journey on this path, we could all look back and say I was there, I was present in every moment, and I felt every second of it. That to me is the good life.