Open Your Mind

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

His words stick with me until this day.  It was just prior to retirement, and I was attending a study council session at the University of PA.  Richard Shell, a Wharton Professor and author of The Conscience Code and Springboard: Launching Your Personal Journey to Success  had concluded his presentation and was now enjoying informal interaction with those who had attended the program.  I had the opportunity to speak with him for a few moments and shared that I would soon turn 65 and be retiring.  He smiled and said, “Me too!”   Then he added the words that I often reflect upon, “You know, I’ve come to understand what success and happiness are at 65.  I wonder what they will look like at 75?”  His comment served to validate my own belief that life is a journey, a quest of sorts, filled with ever changing experiences that shape us as we travel.  Happiness and success will not be found, rather they will be created and experienced at different points along the way.  The key is remembering to be open to new experiences and not having a preconceived notion of what constitutes success and happiness.

Unfortunately, most of us at one point or other, have succumbed to pre-conceived notions of success and happiness.  The ironic part is that these notions are not ours.  Too often they reflect the ideas and beliefs of those who surround us, and whose opinions and thoughts we value.  In essence our definitions of happiness and success are what worked for someone else.  The danger is that accepting these preconceived notions limits us; they can actually serve to compromise our personal realization of success or happiness.

Having an open mind makes all the difference.  Think about it, what if your life’s journey brings about experiences others could have never imagined.  What if those experiences elicit emotions different from those who went before you?  What if your life’s journey lets you experience success and happiness in places where others only experienced failure and despair?  By being open to the possibility that life will always have something better to offer, we enable our journey to extend into uncharted waters.

Success and happiness are not destinations, they are ports to be visited and enjoyed while on this odyssey.  I’ll be 72 next month and my voyage has included its share of storms, fair winds and calm seas.  The innocence with which I began the journey has been replaced with the wisdom gained over these many years.  This trip is far from over, I’ve got many ports yet to visit.  Embracing the power of an open mind, committing to personal growth and striving for self actualization should make the rest of this journey interesting.  Like Shell, I’ve come to understand what success and happiness are at 72.  I wonder what they will look and feel like at 92?

Open Your Mind
Embrace the Challenge