The Power of Openness – Say ‘Yes’ to Life

Computers, and indeed all electronic devices, function using a mindbogglingly simple principle. The same principle is used by your local stores, by all women (and men, but it’s more obvious with women) with regards to sex, and by all humans with regards to learning and lots of other things. In fact, the same principle is used by your body, your mind, by many Western societies, and on the grandest of scales by life itself.

The Incredible Principle

Well, what is this wonderous principle, then?

It’s this:

Open … or … closed.

Photo of handmade "open" versus "closed" signs

I said it was simple, right? In computers we call it binary and in humans we call it free will and choice.

Open … or … closed. It’s like: yes or no. Yes means open, and no means closed. Open means go, and closed means no-go. Either there’s a flow (open, yes, go), such as when you flip a switch to open and the current starts flowing and powering your lamp, refrigerator or vibrator. Or you flip the switch the other way, and there is no flow, and your fridge, lamp or vibrator stops doing its thing.

Simple, but deceptively so, because look at all the things we can make computers do using simple open or closed commands. It’s a lot, and it’s becoming more by the hour. We’ve even got something called the Internet of Things which many believe will evolve into the Internet of Everything. All based on that one, simple principle.

Open or closed; yes or no; go or no-go; flow or no flow; apart from the wonderous world of computers, lamps, fridges and vibrators, what’s so interesting about that? Well, for us humans it’s mostly the consequences of each choice. But it’s also which one of the two choices that is life’s default.

In computer programming (and elsewhere) the concept of ‘default’ is the standard setting, the choice that’s made if you don’t make another, different choice.

Life’s Default Setting

Well, life’s default setting is ‘open’, ‘yes’, ‘go’ and ‘flow’.

Given even a smidgeon of a chance, life will actively manifest itself. And create something.

It’s what life does.

Maybe we humans should emulate life …

How About Opening Up?

For you specifically being open is needed to recieve the very important impulses that life, your intuition and your higher self / your soul sends you. People who are really good at staying open like this live in flow, which is more or less the same as “being in the zone”.

Living in flow a lot of the time is gratifying and wonderful. And extremely efficient, since things seem to work out all by themselves with a very low level of planning and an often-not-very-high level of effort – case in point being synchronicity. You can see Deepak Chopra talking about synchronicity in this video:

(If you want to know more about flow, try reading books by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (who invented the term) or Abraham Maslow (who called it peak experiences). For an easy-to-read version, try the book “The Power of Flow” by Charlene Belitz and Meg Lundstrom).

Young Kids Have Got It Right

But on a more everyday level: Have you noticed how open and unbiased young children are? They haven’t been socialized yet, and so they are completely, naturally open; they are curious and they are effectively saying ‘yes’ to pretty much everything that doesn’t have negative consequences for them.

But some things do. And so they say ‘no’ – in the only way they can, very loudly.

And this is the point of ‘closed’, ‘no, ‘no-go’ and ‘no flow’ – setting boundaries to avoid overload and other unpleasantness.

The Meaning and Purpose of ‘No’

But that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only purpose of ‘closed’ and ‘no’. It is not meant to be used for anything else, at all, ever.

And it is completely useless as a default setting (called e.g. negativity or pessimism) – more, it’s decidedly dangerous as a default setting. It can, quite literally, kill you.

Neon sign "open" in the night

The flow of openness is life’s default. Always.

You, me, and everything else, we’re all meant to be ‘open’ almost all the time.

If something is threathening to overwhelm and hurt us, THEN, and only then, we say ‘no’. And move away from it, thus effectively eliminating it from our lives.

Why move away, why eliminate it from your life?

Because having to continually say ‘no’ to something goes against the grain, it inhibits the flow of life, it is (so to speak) unnatural, not to mention unhealthy.

‘Flow’ or ‘No Flow’ – So What?

And so we have arrived at the consequences of ‘open’ vs. ‘closed’ a.k.a. ‘yes’ vs. ‘no’ a.k.a. ‘flow’ vs. ‘no flow’.

'Yes' versus 'No' equals 'open' vs. 'closed', 'flow' vs. 'no-flow' and 'go' vs. 'no-go'

They can both be healthy or unhealthy.

Being open, in the flow and saying ‘yes’ is healthy in large doses and most of the time – too much, though, is unhealthy. Which is where the alternative comes in.

Being closed, out of the flow and saying ‘no’ is healthy and necessary in small doses at the right intervals (i.e. whenever the default openness becomes a problem) – but in large doses (incl. repeated too often) it becomes extremely unhealthy.

Most people, of course, don’t realize this, and so we have “incurable” pessimists, and other people who spend much of their time being:

– stressed
– depressed
– bitter
– angry
– fearful
– anxious
– lonely
– jealous
– shameful
– blameful
– hateful
– or feeling unworthy, defective (broken), not-good-enough, wrong, disheartened, disappointed, doubtful, cynical, worried, irritated, bored, etc.

All of the above are versions of ‘closed’ a.k.a. ‘no’ a.k.a. ‘no flow’. They all inhibit the default, natural flow of life, and when indulged for more that a brief period of time they all cause damange, some of them very serious damage.

What Can We Do?

However, even if people DO realize that their emotional state and/or ther mindset, beliefs, thoughts and habits are damaging, they may not know what to do about it. The good news is you can change all those things simply by (step 1) noticing them and (step 2) choosing/willing a change. Or you can use some of the excellent self improvement tools and techniques that exist, e.g. The Journey by Brandon Bays, The Work by Byron Katie or The Let Go Method by yours truly (Soren Lauritzen).

Yes-Challenges and No-Challenges

Learning to stay open and in flow (saying ‘yes’) is a challenge, and something we need to train before we can master it. (For fun, see the 2008 movie “Yes Man“, starring Jim Carrey).

Exactly the same is true with learning to say ‘no’. We need to be able to close ourselves off. We need to be able to politely refuse any and all things that aren’t right for us. And we need to be able to ‘walk away’ from all sorts of overload.

Walking away from overload does not just mean “temporarily avoiding exposure” … it actually means physically, mentally, emotionally and permanently removing the source of the overload from your life (or removing yourself from it). Nothing less will do, scary though that might seem.

The present time period represents a particular challenge in the area of overload, since most people (at least in the industrialized world) are constantly flooded with information, offers and demands – more so today than any other periode of time in recorded history.

Overload and Stress Make Us Stupid and Sick

Prolonged overload and stress make us weak, stupid and sick. Case in point: the stress hormone of cortisol, which is useful in small quantities but which becomes pretty deadly if you allow a stressed-out condition to continue for too long.

Thus, learning to say no and cut off things that overload us is rapidly becoming … a survival skill.

And yes, when we start turning off the smartphone and closing down the computer most of the day, as well as cutting down on work, culling our list of friends and acquaintances, avoiding all types of ads and throwing out our television, we might experience some withdrawal symptoms for a while. Those aren’t very pleasant, but the very fact that we’re experiencing them is testament to why we needed the change. And the good thing about withdrawal symptoms is they’re temporary.

Life's default setting is 'yes', 'open' and 'flow, so it manifests creatively. (Photo: Open pink flower).

Final Words

I often talk about creating a better life (calling the process life alchemy), and one of the basic skills we need to cultivate in life alchemy is staying open and saying yes to life’s impulses, so we can live happily in flow and synchronicity. This becomes not only difficult, but dangerous if we don’t cultivate the sister skill of saying no to all sorts of overload and permanently removing the stressors from our lives.

Not only do we NOT need to keep our smartphones, computers, radios and televisions on for as long as we do, and not only do we NOT need as many material things, working hours, friends and acquaintances as we currently have … we actually NEED TO CUT DOWN on all of it until we reach the point where we can feel ourselves and life again.

It’s entirely possible. I know, because I have done it. Now … it’s your turn. 🙂

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