It was my college orientation phase last week—a preamble to the next three years of my life. A lot of inspirational speeches were given, rules and regulations were dictated, and mountains of promises were made. But among all that talk about responsibilities and more importantly, being a ‘grown-up’, a line spoken by one of the teachers caught my attention, ‘Open your heart,’ the teacher said to the crowd of excited students. The minute she said this, a million questions popped up in my head.

Open my heart to whom?

How do I open it?

Is this some kind of medieval torture technique?

 

It took me a while to figure out what she was talking about. And finally, it hit me that it was something I’ve been trying to do my whole life.

 

When your heart’s open and ready to try out new experiences, you learn way more than what is simply being taught to you. You take in a lot more from the universe than just the things that someone else is trying to put in your brain. Most people, especially those who have gone through difficult times, often keep their hearts closed off because they think it’s easier that way.

Open your heart! Sure, it may seem easier to not put yourself in an emotionally vulnerable situation, one where you could feel disappointed or upset. But, by doing so, you also miss out on the most wonderful things this world has to offer. By not putting yourself out there and by not taking any risks, you are preventing yourself from stepping out of your comfort zone. And that is the region where the most transformative, and therefore, beautiful experiences of life are usually found.

The reason I’m part of The Reading Room crew today is because I had the courage to get out of my safe zone during a difficult time, to meet new people and live out new experiences. Had I not done that, I would’ve still believed that I couldn’t write well or even hold a normal conversation with people. And more importantly, I would’ve never met so many open-minded people—people who have become my friends, confidantes, and guides—making me more confident than I ever was. It took me a while to unlock my heart, but in the end, I was able to become a better person because of it.

So, for those of you racking your brains wondering how to open your hearts, I suggest a self-devised and very easy method which I call, ‘A Step A Day’.

What to Do?

First, keep a diary or a journal. At the end of each day, write down one new and exciting thing you did. Open your heart, and write. It could be as simple as treating yourself to a nice meal, trying a new cuisine or dish, or having a first-time conversation with your neighbour. Or, it could be something like joining an NGO or giving that audition you have been dreaming about.

Each day you will celebrate one achievement of yours—fear you conquered, a problem you solved. Some days, you may have more than one, and that’s great! By writing it down, you’re basically giving yourself a pat on the back. Soon, you will realize that taking up new challenges seem to get easier each time—a sign that your heart and your mind is opening wider each day, with each new entry.

This is what worked for me. And this is what made my transition to a college and hostel life much easier than I thought it would be. I just thought to open my mind and put this thought out to the world, in case it helps anyone else.

The Reading Room: Open Your Heart

Writer: Madhuri Rajkumar ([email protected])

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