by Dan Bennett
Dan is a good friend of mine, a great father, and a fabulous writer. I love how he captures raw emotion and invites you all the way in. Enjoy his post below. You can follow Dan on twitter here and read his blog here.
Can you feel it?
All you have to do is step outside and your senses are surrounded with the signs of spring. The sound of snow melting. The happy birds greeting the warming air with song. Wet, sloppy driveways. The constant drip drip drip of water winding its way down your gutter. The light feeling of warmth found in the sun’s light.
Feels good doesn’t it?
Winter is beautiful and necessary, but it can also be brutal. Especially this year. Sure it wasn’t the coldest ever (although it was close), and it wasn’t the snowiest either (close again!), but according to my charts, it was definitely the grumpiest.
I can’t tell you how many times I woke up over the last two months, peeked outside, checked the temp and died inside.
Every. Single. Day.
It was almost as if I started every day with a closed heart.
I hated it. It affected my mood, my productivity, my attitude, etc… and chances are, unless you live in So Cal, it affected you too.
But in all honesty, winters happen all the time in life.
We all go through times when our heart gets closed off for some reason. Maybe your winter is financial, spiritual, relational, or circumstantial. When we repeatedly close our hearts, love can’t get in. And when this becomes a pattern, our hearts start suffocating. And that’s when anxiety and depression start to build. It’s almost as if anxiety and depression are the side effects of a heart that’s trying to reopen it’s doors.
So how do we avoid this? How do approach life with an open heart when everything around us want to close the doors and hide inside?
One way is to take our cue from nature as winter gives way to spring.
For example, the snow-covered ground greets the spring and bears everything it has to the sun. As it does this, the snow begins to melt away and the runoff prepares the earth for growth and beauty.
We can do the same thing. If we embrace the warmth, the things that make us excited, the things that fill us with love and life, our hearts will open and sun will melt our ice too. Sure it’ll be cold. It will definitely get messy, but just like the ground, our soul will benefit from the runoff as it prepares us for growth and beauty.
Now before we move forward, there is something we need to understand about embracing the things that fill our hearts with love and life, and it is this:
If we make lists of how the world must be for us to be open, we limit ourselves to those conditions. (Michael A. Singer)
It’s the old A+B=C thing that our brains always try to rope us into, and we need slay this dragon again and again. If we don’t, our happiness will be limited by our own prescribed formula, and that can be just as damaging to our soul as a tough winter can be.
For example, if success is what makes you happy, if peace and quiet are necessary to make you happy, then what happens if you aren’t successful? What happens if life isn’t peaceful or quiet?
Does that make any sense? The only way we can approach life with an open heart, the only way we can truly live in the moment and enjoy the life we’re given, is if we consciously encourage our hearts to stay open, no matter what the circumstances are.
It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.
So how do we keep our hearts open despite our circumstances?
Again, we can lean on nature, only this time, we’ll use the birds as our guide.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Birds don’t sing because they’re happy. They’re happy because they sing. It’s true! And better yet, it’s true for us as well. When we sing, we’re opening our hearts to life. Now I know what you’re thinking. Sometimes you don’t feel like singing! And I get that. There are times I don’t feel like singing either, but I’ve found that the secret to staying open is to sing. And I’d argue that it’s even more important for us to sing when times are tough than when times are good.
Now, I’m speaking metaphorically of course, but the point is, we need to keep singing, we need to stay open, regardless of the season, regardless of our circumstances. Because the more we can stay open, even when it’s cold, rainy, dark and difficult, the more prepared our soul will be for the amazing things love has in store for us.
So my advice to you here at the end of winter is this: Embrace the warmth. Start singing. Stay open and let everything in life be your mentor. Because, in the end… Life is a gift and best way to accept a gift is with an open heart.