We all operate in two contrasting modes, open and closed. The open mode is more chilled, playful, democratic, adventurous, and humorous. Whereas the closed mode is the opposite, it is more rigid. Being open-minded is not easy because we are brought up with a set of beliefs and values that we uphold and try to live up to. That is why we also unintentionally find ourselves getting along with those who share the same values and beliefs. This makes it difficult for us to challenge our own thoughts. I am no different, like most people I do have values and views that I feel so strongly about and find it hard to sway myself from. However, through traveling and reading, I have found ways to keep an open mind.
In many ways, we close ourselves off to others, as a form of self-defense. It happens to most of us. Previous hurts in life often lead us to behave that way. But the more we close ourselves, the more we miss out on life. Being open-minded means you are open to everyone and everything that comes your way. Allowing yourself to embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, views, suggestions, and interests. You need to be unprejudiced, without stubbornness, and flexible at all times.
What it means to be open-minded
Diversity is an important ingredient for growth. To have an open mind means to be willing to consider or receive new and different ideas. It means being flexible and adaptive to new experiences and ideas. Critical thinking and reasoning require an open mind. The world is always changing and we need to be open to new experiences and ways of doing things. If we are rigid about what we know, we limit ourselves from growth. Having an open mind helps us expand our horizons and gives us better opportunities.
How to practice being open-minded
1. Be less judgemental
Judging seems to come naturally to us. But judging blocks us from understanding more about the other person or keeping an open mind about situations. It seems natural to judge others, but in doing so we close ourselves and the truth about these people. We want to accept the world and others based on our own expectations of them but the world doesn’t operate that way.
Therefore we judge everyone who thinks and behaves differently from us. We feel that our thoughts are superior to those of everybody who thinks differently from us. And we judge everybody who does things differently. But guess what, our way is not the only right way.
2. Have empathy
Before concluding or judging someone, put yourself in their shoes and try to understand them according to their circumstances, not your beliefs.
3. Be flexible
If you are too rigid you limit the range of possibilities. If you are rigid, you close yourself to the world. Develop the flexibility to adjust depending on the changing circumstances of each day, each moment. Flexibility helps us deal better with life’s changes and challenges.
There are times you might be convinced that you are 100 percent right and someone else is not. Keep an open mind that you might be wrong after all, even if you think you are not. You might have overlooked something or not know all the details because life is not always in black or white.
4. Recognize your defense mechanisms and work around them
Most of us develop defense mechanisms without even realizing it. Past experiences make us do that. Sometimes we find ourselves shutting out people or experiences because of our own defense mechanisms and fears that we have developed due to past experiences. Recognize your defense mechanisms and work through them.
5. Always have a mind that is like a blank piece of paper
Always be ready to receive new information and be transformed. Be open to new things, new views, new perspectives, new definitions, new ideas, and even new criticisms.
Avoid the tendency to think your way is the only way or the right way of doing things, you will not grow. Be open to all information, be interested in new and odd insights. Don’t limit yourself. Learn to be blank, open, and unprejudiced to everything you come across. Be interested, observe different angles, and never think you know, because you don’t. The moment you think you know something for sure you are limiting yourself.
6. Be a better listener
One component of open-mindedness is being an active listener. Successful listening starts with sincere curiosity about another person or situation.
To be a better leader, you need to be able to keep an open mind. Rigid thinking leads to intolerance, which in many ways is a recipe for failure. We must always question our own beliefs. We cannot live in our self-contained shells and expect to grow.
A closed vs open mind
1. A closed mind dislikes change. However, in order to fully experience the world, we must embrace change and explore. There is unlimited potential but only visible to those who keep an open mind. See and try new things.
2. A fixed mind may make you feel like you are in control whilst open-mindedness may seem like vulnerability. Because open-mindedness means admitting that you don’t know everything and you are willing to learn. People who are open-minded are willing to change their views when presented with new facts and evidence. Those with a fixed mind are resistant to change.
3. Open-minded people are always actively searching for evidence that goes against their favored beliefs and thoughts whilst fixed-minded people have a tendency of searching for evidence that favors their beliefs and thoughts because they do not want their ideas challenged.
It is my hope that you will consider being more open-minded as you harness the power of your inner wisdom to create a remarkable future. You cannot be successful if you are not eager to learn new things and keep an open mindset about life.
Although most people are closed-minded, it is hard for anyone to admit that they are.
How to check if you are closed-minded or not
1. Do you always seek to be understood instead of understanding the other person?
Close-minded people do not seek to understand the other person but to be understood themselves. Open-minded people are compelled to see things through the other person’s eyes. Seek understanding more than to be understood.
2. Do you ever think you are wrong about things?
Close-minded people always think they are right whilst open-minded people understand that they may be wrong.
3. Do you get offended if somebody doesn’t agree with you?
Close-minded people always feel offended if somebody fails to agree with them. They want things done their way because to them there is no other way.
Open-minded people understand that things can be done differently and are always willing to change their ways if they find better ones. They are not offended if things are not done their way.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
4. Do you always want to be the one speaking?
Close-minded people prefer to be the ones speaking always and the others listening, they want everyone to shut up. Open-minded people prefer to be the ones listening more than speaking.
5. Do you resort to insults in an argument?
Close-minded people have this tendency of wanting their opinions to be agreed with and not challenged. If you don’t agree with them, they may get frustrated and resort to personal verbal attacks and insults.
Open-minded people remain respectful even throughout an argument because they understand that what’s being challenged is their opinions, not themselves.
6. Do you ask questions in an argument or do you seek to shut the other person up?
Close-minded people do not ask questions, all they seek is to refute the other person’s thoughts. They want the other person to shut up and prove that the other person is wrong. Open-minded people ask questions because they seek to understand the other person’s point of view and even though the slightest chance, are willing to admit that they may be wrong.
Keeping an open mind is one of the most difficult things to comprehend. Being open or fixed-minded is more like being on a continuum. Every day we should seek to make a shift toward being more open-minded.
It doesn’t mean you should believe or accept everything but you should give everything a fair chance of representation before you can make a conclusion. Listen, observe and try to comprehend everything before passing judgment. As Henry Bergson said, “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend”
Discover the beauty and power of keeping an open mind. It will change and make life easier and more interesting! There is much to be gained from opening your mind and letting new ideas and beliefs come in.
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