I am open.
February 13, 2011 § 13 Comments
Sitting at my computer listening to another instalment of the Great Health Debate, I became aware of a value that rests at the very center of my (molten) core. This belief has always been present in some form, but it has suddenly begun to solidify like coconut oil in the early days of winter.
It is not that a 100% raw vegan diet is the ultimate nutritional nirvana or that communism will save us from our modern social woes, rather it is the utmost faith in the notion that we should strive to maintain an open mind at all times.
Yes, that naff old saying. ‘Keep an open mind’ (and let your brains fall out).
I was sparked to enter this philosophical reverie while listening to the opposing sides of various dietary arguments, as presented in the excellent health debate series hosted by Kevin Gianni. As Mark Sisson presented the facts on the Primal Diet and spoke with passion about the research and motives behind his take on optimum nutrition, I was struck by how valid such a viewpoint was despite it being far removed from my own. I have many friends who eat in a more primal, low-carb, high-fat, animal-protein-heavy manner and I respect their judgement immensely. Conversely, Frederic Patenaude’s account of the benefits of the 80/20/20, high-carb, low-fat raw diet also left me confident that this was a viable dietary option on which to thrive.
In the past, I’ve scolded myself for showing little commitment to any one school of thought and sitting decidedly on the pointy picket fence in terms of ‘picking’ a diet. However, I’ve come to realise that being open to a variety of options may in itself be a worthwhile frame of mind. Most philosophies (be it dietary or otherwise) have points of value and can contribute to a greater understanding of the subject in question. Excluding the opinions and arguments of others surely places you at a disadvantage, in which long-term happiness may be compromised in favour of loyalty to a particular mindset or belief system.
Is it so incomprehensible that one can happily nibble upon many delicious tid-bits from a plethora of plates? Survey a smorgasboard of ideas? (Take a food/belief-system analogy too far?)
Being open is a helpful mindset on virtually every front.
I am open to the creative genius of others; namely this amazing raw pad thai from Lindsay at The Kitchen Operas.
Besides the benefits of embracing multiple perspectives, you can also be open to challenging your ingrained thought processes. Even the smallest irritations can often be re-framed if you take the time to question your pre-programmed response. Why is it my default setting to become angry when a slow-driver meanders at snails pace ahead? Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the road, looking for an address, or simply being cautious. Haven’t you been in all of these situations, too? Being open to the feelings of others can help defuse the rage because you realise not everything is a personal affront. Creating a negatively charged response only serves to raise your stress levels and little else.
Be open to going with the flow.
I am also trying to be more open to advice and suggestion. For a long time, I would seek the aid of others without really engaging with it. I would know that this certain tactic would improve my athletic performance, or that certain habit could help me make more effective use of my time. But knowing is not always concurrent with doing, and breaking free of established habits to implement something new is a daunting task. Being open to, and acting upon the wisdom of more knowledgable parties has proven to be more effective than ever. Who would have thought that actually taking advice could deliver such profound results?
I’ve recently taken up swimming laps again, even though I have known the benefits for years but was too intimidated to try. D’oh.
Stemming from this is the ability to be open to change. This is perhaps my most cherished pursuit as I strive to live by the notion of ‘try everything’. I don’t want to leave any stone unturned as I move through life, and dismantling routine, intellectual focus and location is an invigorating way to ensure diversity. Even just rearranging my room, or upending my morning ritual carries the symbolic weight of change.
Lastly, being open to the signs as given to you by life is paramount. I don’t mean magical instances where fluffy white clouds arrange themselves in the shape of your future spouse, or a butterfly tickles you on the eyelids to tell you you’re on the right track. I mean more subtle anomalies from which you can draw inspiration and insight.
The only butterfly paraphernalia you will ever witness in my house.
I truly believe that lessons are presented to us to help us learn, become more self-aware and grow, and without attributing it to any specific higher power I feel this is a beautiful thing.
When my finances are low (like now as a student), I find it incredibly hard to deal. It’s tempting to wallow in the kind of thoughts that screech ‘life is unfair!’, ‘all my friends are better off than me!’ or ‘I’ll never get where I want!’. But compounding the misery is futile at best, so instead I try to appreciate that this monetary drought will make me more resilient, thankful for future comforts and empathetic with those who permanently have so little. It’s not always easy, but being open is something worth working on.
What are your thoughts? Do you try to embrace the unexpected and throw a positive slant on things? Are you open to other religions, diets, mentalities and trying new things?