“Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.”--Phil Jackson
This quote has been the signature line on my email for many years. I still often get comments on that line, usually something like “I love your signature line!”
But I wonder this...and this is a big what-if…
What if people said “I LIVE your signature line!”
I have to keep pausing to consider how that could impact the world. I have to deconstruct the quote as an exercise. What does it actually mean?
ALWAYS, not most of the time, but always? And, in all ways? Is anyone really truly capable of always doing anything? I don’t think so. Many of us definitely try to do some important things always, but we’re human. Life gets messy sometimes. I could never say always about anything, except maybe I always love my children with all my heart, even when I’m angry. But, always is a goal for everything we want to achieve, and it is almost always a good idea to keep striving.
KEEP, hold on to, hold carefully, be persistent. Keeping something can be a very hurtful and harmful thing. When we keep a grudge it does us no good, and is harmful. It really depends on what we keep, and if we keep the spirit of the quote, that means keeping something good. Again, it’s a goal. Keeping something means never letting it go. Since never is the opposite of always, it is a challenge to never do something, but again, goals.
OPEN MIND, open to things that make us unhappy, uncomfortable, unappreciated. Open mind is non-judgement. It is often, but certainly not always, easy for me to be non-judgemental of others. I am curious and open to learning, almost always. Non-judgement? I can be snarky and use foul language, and I’m good at it, but it sometimes even helps me get to a place of open mindedness. I try to always remember that everyone, and therefore everything they do has a backstory. It helps to open my mind when I try to create that backstory in my head. We are all born with an open mind. It is a worthy goal to try to approach every person and situation with that same open mind. Return to open mindedness. Goals.
COMPASSIONATE is being understanding, concerned, and again, without judgement. I’m fairly competent at this one. I am understanding and concerned, maybe too much. I’m really good at compassion with friends, family, strangers, animals, even plants. I feel bad if I kill a plant. and I cry at silly things because everything touches me deeply. I’m not good at self compassion at all. In fact, I kind of suck at being compassionate with myself. I know I need to work on this. I try, but I’m always my worst critic. And, I’m not compassionate toward mosquitoes. I hate those suckers. And, I don’t care to change my attitude about mosquitoes. Maybe I can be compassionate with myself for hating mosquitoes?
HEART. The capacity for love. Having a big heart presents it’s own challenges, but it is a good thing most of the time.
So, for me, always keeping an open mind and a compassionate heart is a goal quote, and will be something I can always strive to achieve. It goes hand in hand with a well known quote from one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”