Keys to an Open Heart

08/17/2016 11:29 am ET

The world is increasingly becoming a dangerous place. We are not learning our lessons from history. As one that is observing civilization as a patient, the pulse is beating rapidly and unless we begin addressing the causes for such unrest (around the world), we may find ourselves in a position of great conflict not unlike the mid twentieth century.

One way to help our progression, at least on an individual basis, is to look at ways to encourage ourselves to use our hearts as well as our minds. I have learned that there are secrets to opening and expanding our heart center, which is a storehouse of energy for our soul. The following two words, acceptance and tolerance, if mastered properly, will assist us in reducing conflict and creating more harmony in the world.

Acceptance

Mastering acceptance is a potential road to finding inner peace. If we hold on to heartache and disappointment long enough, this inhibits us from loving and accepting ourselves and, by extension, others. Having experienced this many times, I have learned that it is best to acknowledge the pain we have experienced, learn from mistakes, and move on. Other than fueling our own ego, there is no point in being stubborn and holding onto negativity when we can flow with life’s energy rather than resisting it.

Acceptance needs to start within us and then move outward. I know people who are enormously successful in the business world yet are not accepting of themselves. Ironically, it is the lack of acceptance and inner discomfort within themselves that pushes them minute by minute, day by day. But, they can lack fulfillment.

People are caught up each day focusing on imperfections in themselves (and others). Yet the truth is that we are all imperfect . . . period. For that matter, my understanding is that the universe is imperfect, meaning that there will always be ways we can grow and evolve to better express our divine purpose. So why spend so much energy focusing on imperfections when we could be putting that energy into making a positive contribution to the world?

Do not ever put yourself down when comparing yourself with others. Lessons take many forms, as we all are at different stages of development. We are all unique, so our challenges and predicaments will always be different. This is why we should never judge another person. We cannot begin to understand what it is to be another person and walk in his or her shoes. We cannot understand from our human perspective where another is in life. Whether you are rich or poor you may find lessons of compassion and faith along your path.

 Appearances on the outside can mask problems people have underneath it all; we often see examples of this in the news. We may have found ourselves a bit envious or jealous at first, only to ultimately be thankful for what we already have. We are each on a unique path, and we should live it as fully as possible, rather than trying to imitate others or believe that their life is more meaningful than ours.

We also need to be careful about feeling superior to others. Too often, we believe that our views are more important than someone else’s, and so we feel there is little reason to be accepting of that person; this is our ego getting in the way of possibilities. We can see this operating every day in various situations, from those involving the common man on the street to large corporations and even big governments. Too many of us think that what we believe in is the truth and we allow little room for a differing point of view. Before we know it, we are in a fight with others over trivial matters.

Too many never come to terms with who or where they are in life and do not feel empowered to identify what might need to be changed. Instead, they find it easier to blame others for their predicaments. This can be a vicious cycle that is hard to break. We particularly see this when it comes to relationships. Men and women often blame each other when things do not go right, and, sadly, even children blame their parents for their own misfortunes when things do not work out for them later in life. However, we must each take responsibility for who and what we are. To be more accepting of another creates harmony; more importantly, it avoids disharmony within oneself. Some people believe that enlightenment is the acceptance of what is.

However, no one is suggesting that you become accepting to the point of being submissive. You do not have to accept all situations, whatever it may be; it can make sense to make improvements by pushing yourself further. Learn to be honest with yourself about who you are and whatever your situation is. This acceptance is a critical piece to begin the process of empowering change and becoming more tolerant of other people. It is better to build bridges with those around you rather than tearing them down.

Tolerance

As acceptance helps one navigate his or her heart internally, tolerance helps to navigate one’s heart outward within the world. As we become more tolerant of one another we create a space for creativity and eventually freedom for change. In addition, the qualities of acceptance and tolerance assist us in becoming more patient, which also enhances our relationships with others.

More tolerance in the world can lead to great strides in evolution, instead of the warlike behavior we too often see around us. You may not like everyone you meet, but you need to respect and honor other people’s rights. We all make mistakes and errors in judgment so let’s give ourselves and each other a little breathing room. Compassion for others may follow once you begin to soften your heart and become tolerant of your neighbor.

The lessons of compassion and forgiveness can more easily be assimilated and implemented once acceptance for oneself and tolerance for others have been embraced. It can be difficult having compassion for another if you have none for yourself.

At times, we are intolerant of others because we fear what we don’t know and because of our own egos. We assume we are right in one area of our lives because we know we are smart in other areas. Our personality may be well meaning so this behavior is unintentional, but it still persists, and as the ego continues to grow it causes us to get in our own way. Our own eyes tend to see things from our point of view first, which is not always the objective reality of what actually took place.

It is difficult to stay objective with others if we are emotionally based in our thinking. However, our ability to give others the benefit of the doubt and to stay neutral will create the possibility for more meaningful interactions.

We are not meant to be an island to ourselves. A lack of tolerance for others often becomes the seed for closing off and separating ourselves from the world around us. A person can be so influenced by his own his ego that he loses the common bond of humanity and cuts himself off from others. This is the exact opposite of our natural state as spiritual beings, which is one of connection to “all” on the other side of the veil. Connections with others are paramount for a meaningful existence. And, no one person or for that matter, even a country, ever got ahead in life without the help of someone else.

It is always easier making changes now rather than waiting until things are so stuck that there is just too much pain involved to break out of them. The longer we wait the more we invite hard lessons of compassion and struggle to correct our world.

Let us hope, that in the coming years, we take inventory of ourselves and for that matter leaders around the globe look at themselves and find a way to bring more harmony to a world that is badly in need of healing.

 

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