As a result, everyone reacts differently to the events and opportunities they encounter. Being open-minded can help you so much, giving you the chance to learn at every turn in life. You can see what others choose to shut out. Many people fail to discover new things because they think they know all the answers. What it comes down to is this: Avoid making decisions based on beliefs, obvious logic, and even science. Scientists are also human beings. That means they have their own cognitive biases. They are notorious for finding evidence for their preconceptions. The solution to making better decisions is not more knowledge. Instead, I've found that a pragmatic and neutral perspective leads to better-informed decisions. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as "the best decision." If that was the case, we lived in a perfect world full of people who made logical and practical decisions. I like to look at it this way: There are only good-informed and bad-informed decisions. It's very appealing to think we've got it all figured out because we've read a few books or studies. There's just one problem: You still can't trust your judgments, no matter how much knowledge you have. Being aware of that simple thought helps you make better-informed decisions. Every time I'm stuck in a thinking pattern, I try to break away by looking at the list of cognitive biases. It's free and easy. Just go to the Wikipedia for "list of cognitive biases." You'll find that most biases seem like common sense. And that's exactly the point. Cognitive biases explain our illogical behavior.

You may have intense discomfort with playing. You might think, What will someone think if I'm at home not doing anything? Or, What will it look like if my friend sees me at a picnic when she knows I haven't finished my part of the project? Or, What if all I did today was paint? Obviously, using your perfectionistic thinking, that would make you a loafer, a ne'er-do-well. It's that all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking again. Confront your critical thinking and move on to this next list. It'll be based on whatever it is you enjoy that's playful or creative or enjoyable. You might write, "I'll leave work thirty minutes early two times a week to make a yoga class." Or, "I'm going to get out my old piano books and play." Or, "I'm going to call a friend who always makes me laugh and plan something together." Now you go! Write a list of ten things that you would like to do that are creative or playful. Then pick the one that would be the easiest and do it as soon as possible. I can't wait for you to discover, perhaps for the first time, the joy of playing. Write about what you discover along the way. And don't forget the skipping. It feels wonderful. Letting other people in so that they really know you is something you've not done. This is a chance for you to allow people who care about you to discover their own talent for giving. Allow your loved ones to know how good it can feel to be leaned on, to know that you value their opinion, or that your relationship with them can survive and thrive even given conflict. The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm. "Locus" means "location," as in place.

Locus of control is concerned with where you tend to assign causation for the events in your life. It's your accustomed viewpoint about where you perceive control to be. As things happen from moment to moment and day to day, your locus of control identifies and describes who or what you think is responsible. It's how and where you assign blame for your difficulties and credit for your accomplishments. In fact, your locus of control tells you not only what you think are the causes of your problems and your victories; it even determines where you tend to look for those causes in the first place. Everyone, without exception, carries around this "perceptual set," this way of interpreting and assigning causation for the things that happen in his or her life. You may not be consciously aware of it, but it is there. It is down deep, at the bedrock of your self-concept. That's why we've got to address it first, before any of your other internal factors. Your belief about what or who you believe is in control of your life strongly influences the self-talk you have about yourself and the world you live in. It is a powerful and durable factor in how you interpret and react to events and opportunities. It means you are answering certain simple, but critical, questions in a predictable way. Kahlil Gibran was famous for writing that we should `Travel and tell no one. Live a true love story and tell no one. Live happily and tell no one. People ruin beautiful things'. While his final four words here could be read as a comedic addition, they could also be a painfully accurate portrait of the often conflicted relationship that we can have with our own human condition. Sadly, as we count the comments and likes rolling in from the ether, we are taken away from our here and now. We expose ourselves to all manner of energy from the outer world - good, bad and in between. Even though we seem to seek it, none of us needs to feel beholden to others' good opinions or approval of us.

If we are living loving, authentic lives, we needn't exhaust our energy reserves wondering how liked or likeable we are. Our lives needn't become showreels, and needn't necessarily be publicised to such an extent. The role of social media in our modern lives is no small or frivolous matter. Our addiction to our devices is creating distance in our relationships with ourselves, each other and the natural world around us. Next time you have a precious experience, close your eyes and channel your energy inward. Dive into the sensations you are feeling in your body, the magic that you feel circulating within and around you. Notice small details and be present. You'll find a whole new level of magic and fulsome delight available to you when you shift your focus away from all other distractions - away from the need to report back and have others bear witness - and immerse yourself right back into the immediacy and intimacy of your very own life and senses. Herein lies a simple, wonderful way to nurture your inner happiness in daily life. I shudder to think of what my life would be like if I didn't have open-mindedness and what I would be now be missing. My life certainly would not have taken the course it has without my wife's love and support. Most important, I've learned that open-mindedness leads people in beneficial directions that can enhance their opportunities. Faith is a natural corollary here. When you realize every experience in life is a potential learning experience, then you can draw comfort from the fact that life unfolds with purpose. I've found that in the larger scheme of events, it is as if there is a plan waiting for you to discover. It fills me with gratitude when I ponder the many blessing that come my way as life's path unfolds. Struggles, obstacles, and setbacks are part of the journey, but there is great joy and contentment to be had in focusing on the here and now. On the other side of the coin is closed-mindedness. Some people don't want to experience new things, have their views challenged, or learn from other perspectives. Like the turtle that withdraws into its shell, some feel it's safer to remain walled off from novelty.

However, there is so much you miss out on when you close yourself off from new things and life. I hate assumptions. And yet, I assume things all the time. When someone doesn't answer my email, I assume they don't care. When someone apologizes, I assume it's not genuine. When I have a headache, I assume I'm ill. I know I'm not practical because assumptions are not facts. If you want to think straight, you discard all assumptions, and only look at facts. William James said it best in one of his lectures about pragmatism: "The pragmatist clings to facts and concreteness, observes truth at its work in particular cases, and generalizes." I like to avoid assumptions as much as I can. I prefer to look at facts and then draw conclusions. What if you can't rely on facts? Well, sometimes you just can't find facts, or you have to make a quick decision. In those (very rare) cases I prefer gut feeling. Whatever you do, never waste your thoughts on other people's ill-informed opinions and guesses. Pick three opportunities to open up. You might decide, I'll choose to talk with my partner about something I would like to change in our relationship. Or, Today I'm going to talk to my supervisor about my mom's illness. It's been affecting my work, and I've been trying to cover it up. Or, I'm going to call the friend who saw me a few days ago and asked, "Are you okay?" I smiled and brushed her off. Today I'm going to tell her she was right--I'm not okay.