Look for the open doors

April 11, 2021

I went looking for inspiration today by Googling “Inspirational Quotes”. One response from Google was a series of ten great quotes, mostly by famous or well-know people. Most may be familiar to you, but they all beg some comments or expansion.

Today’s quote is from Helen Keller  – “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

I think we’ve all seen or heard the similar quote that “when one door closes, another door opens”, but the Keller quote is really good advice about not dwelling upon the door that just closed.

I’ve posted a few times here about moving on from adversity, a loss or just disappointment. Each represents a door that has just closed – a defeat or setback, a loved one lost or maybe an opportunity not seized. They are all the same in the fact that they are in the past. Those doors have closed. Many of us get caught up in looking at those closed doors and agonizing about what we could have hone differently to perhaps influence or change those outcomes. Yet there is no way to change what is passed. We only have the ability to control how we react to the that past event and to look ahead for the door that has just opened.

Another aspect of Keller’s quote is its use of the word “happiness” to describe the doors. One might substitute the word contentedness for happiness and come away with the same meaning. We all get content with things the way they are and discontented when things change, especially of they change unexpectedly. The loss of a loved one is especially disconcerting because a big hole is left in our lives and there may seem to be nothing that can fill that hole. The loss of a job or a disabling illness or accident also result in changes to the way things were that leave us discontented and unhappy. Events like the COVID-19 pandemic have such a dramatic impact on our lives that many can’t cope with the disruption of how things “used to be.” They just sit and stare at that closed door.

The beneficial aspect of Keller’s quote is that is challenges us to look for that newly opened door. Yes, life is different now; however, that does not mean that it cannot be as good or even better than it was before. One might even discover that they can be happy with what they have instead of spending all of their time working for, or towards, things that they don’t have. An ending to something presents the opportunity for the beginning of something else. Perhaps you realize that the high-pressure  and high-earnings job that you worked so hard at for so long wasn’t as rewarding as you once thought and that m ore time with family and loved one is more important. And, the loss of one opportunity, not matter how disappointing, always presents another opportunity that you have a fresh chance at – just don’t stare at that old door that closed for too long or the new opportunity may pass you by.

There is little that can reduce the pain of the loss of a loved one; however, the memories that you have accumulated of them over time do not go away and offer some comfort. The door that opens for most is the opportunity to grow your love for others family members or perhaps even new partners. Your memories of the lost loved one means that that particular door is never completely closed and you can still peek in whenever you need to “see them” again.

So, stop staring at the doors that might have closed in your life and instead look for the new doors that have just opened. Contentment and happiness come to those who look for them and go through those new doors. What doors have closed in your life? Are you dwelling too long at those closed doors? What new doors might have opened in your life? Are you looking for those new doors?

As the old TV game show “The Price is Right” used to say – “what is behind door number 2?” You have to look for the newly opened doors and then you have to go through them. It turns out that your new life is behind door number 2.

Grow up, be happy and look for the open doors…

June 20, 2017

Recently I was rummaging around the Internet looking for something and came upon one of those sites that featured someone’s list of 50 great quotes. The two quotes below were not together in that list, but they seem to naturally go together.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” —John Lennon

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” —Helen Keller

There are some people whose natural state seems to be unhappiness. They are the sad looking manperpetually disgruntled nay-sayers that you run into from time to time whose mission in life seems to be to try to bring all of those around them down to their level of unhappiness. If these people held the winning ticket in the lotto they would be unhappy that the prize wasn’t bigger when they won.

Then there are those who seemingly have nothing and are still smiling and happy, just to be alive. When we are very young, most of us didn’t know what unhappiness was, other than that frightened feeling when we lost sight of mom or when we fell and hurt ourselves. The kind of unhappiness that many adults feel is a learned response to the world around us. It is a feeling that somehow others have more, were given more or took more than we have. It is a child’s response to understanding the word “mine” and having whatever it is taken away. We learn to stare longingly at the door that has closed, instead of looking for the other door that Helen Keller reminds us has just opened.

We tend to look at our relationships with others in life that way, too.  All relationships eventually end, some due to circumstances and mistakes that we make and some due to death. While it is certainly OK to harbor fond memories of the times and relationships sorry 3gone by, it is not good to fixate on those closed doors rather than looking for the open doors and relationships that are still available. Ruing the day when a mistake that you made caused a relationship to go bad will not change the fact that it has changed and perhaps ended forever. Learning from that mistake will help you avoid souring other relationships in the same way in the future. Learn and move on through the open doors to happiness that are still available to you.

The thing that I like about Lennon’s quote is that is has nothing at all to do with possessions or success in business or winning at some endeavor. It is really about maintaining a state of mind throughout life that promotes being happy with what you have and where you are in your life.  I suspect that the people who live in that state of woman-prayinghappiness have first come to understand their relationship with God and have accepted that He has a plan for their lives that will take care of them. They have surrendered their egos to the will of God and have found happiness in His embrace.

Too many of us tend to measure ourselves by what we have or don’t have in relationship to others. It is this comparative measurement that causes us to be unhappy. Oprah Winfrey put it this way – “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” For many there is never enough, because they are always comparing themselves and what they have against others and their possessions. The open door that God always keeps open for you is to share what you have with others who have even less.

So, grow up and be happy. Share what you have and let God show you the open doors.