“The only thing that is constant is change” is a famous quote by the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Indeed, life is constantly changing and evolving. This means that from time to time, things just stop existing. Losing a job, ending a marriage or moving to another place are examples of changes that many people have experienced. We lose out on something important, a big plan collapses, or we are rejected by someone. Another way of expressing this feeling of loss is that a door is being closed. However, the end of one thing is always the beginning of something new. We have the option to stay focused on what is not present (the doors that have been closed), or become aware of the new avenues that unfold.
Optimism is about the latter option. It is about also seeing the doors that are being opened. It is about holding a favorable view about the future, taking closing doors into consideration and turning them into something beneficial.
Think about a time in your life where someone rejected you or you missed out on something important or when a plan collapsed. These are points in your life where a door closed. Think about what happened after. What doors opened after? What would have never happened if the first door didn’t close? Write down these experiences in the spaces below (write as many experiences as possible that come to mind).
The door that closed on me was:
The new door that opened for me was:
Reflect upon your experiences and respond to the following questions:
▪ What led to the door closing and what helped you open the new door?
▪ How long did it take you to realize that a new door was open?
▪ Was it easy or hard for you to realize that a new door was open?
▪ What prevented you from seeing the new open door?
▪ What can you do next time to recognize the new opportunity sooner?
▪ What were the effects of the door closing on you? Did it last long?
▪ Did the experience bring anything positive?
▪ Which character strengths did you use in this exercise?
▪ What does a closed door represent to you now?
▪ What did you learn from the door closing?
▪ Is there more room for growth from these types of experiences?
▪ Is there a closed door that you still wish to see open?
Now think of all the people that have helped you open doors in the past. What did they do to help you? And what could you do to help others?
The goal of this exercise was twofold. First, make you aware that the end of something is also the beginning of something new. The end of something positive is not only negative but can also create room for something positive again. You become aware that this requires a shift in perspective from focusing on what is not there anymore, to seeing the potential of the future.
Second, become aware of what currently prevents you from adopting a more optimistic outlook when doors close. This insight can be used to develop a more positive outlook for future "closing door events".