In order to talk about staying open to life, we should first go over what causes us to close. We have likely been closing our hearts since kindergarten, maybe even before that. We close to protect ourselves - or rather the idea of who we are - the ego. We close ourselves off to people, situations and internal experiences that threaten the idea of who we should be. We close because being open and vulnerable is hard. Sometimes this closing is necessary to stay safe. But more often than not we are closing unnecessarily and in the process we are creating shame. We are hindering our chances to repair relationships with others and grow a deeper understanding of self. The next time you feel yourself shutting down, turning away or closing off - you might ask yourself, "What am I trying to protect? Is there an opportunity here to foster a new part of me?" If the answer is yes, stay open. Stay present in the moment. Breathe. Connect to your values and act from that place rather than from a place of fear.