I began thinking about being open-minded about 30 years ago.
I was talking with a man much older than me. To tell the truth, he was probably as old as I am now. His mind was a sharp as a tack and he was very witty and wise, so I asked him, “How do you keep yourself so mentally fit?”
He smiled and answered, “It’s because I keep an open mind”. He went on to explain how he kept an open mind, which is part of what today’s email is all about.
The thing about that conversation is it stuck with me, and for the last 30 years or so I’ve tried to follow this mentor’s advice.
You see, the world becomes a lot more interesting and far vaster when you’re open-minded. However, as I’m sure you know, it can be very challenging to keep an open mind.
This is largely because we all have our beliefs, values, preferences, and prejudices and these can blind us to being open to new experiences. The real problem is that our view of the world is often tainted in ways we don’t even recognize. This can make it a significant challenge to become and stay open-minded.
Advantages of becoming more open-minded:
1. You learn more.
Open-minded people are much more interested in learning about different ideas, people, places, and cultures. On the other hand, close-minded people think they already know everything. This means they aren’t open to learning something new.
2. You experience fewer negative emotions.
A person with a close-mind is more easily annoyed and offended than an open-mind one. An open-minded person will tend to have fewer negative emotions while experiencing more positive emotions.
Also, a person with an open mind is much more likely to give someone the benefit of the doubt. They figure that the other person might have good reasons for their actions. This allows you to get along a lot better with others.
It’s easy to like other people when you’re open-minded. As a result, an open-minded person likes a greater variety of people. Since people like people who like them, an open-minded person is also more likeable in general. As a result, they are less likely to get into arguments and disagreements.
3. You have a much broader range of experiences.
When your mind is open to more possibilities, you’ll enthusiastically try out new experiences. You might try new foods, music or classes. Close-minded people live much more limited lives which reduces their ability to experience new things.
4. You’ll be wrong less frequently.
When you are open to new ways of looking at things, you get more ideas. More ideas make it less likely you’ll jump to an incorrect conclusion as you consider more possibilities. Having more possibilities leads to a greater range of experiences which means you will have learned more.
All of these things will result in you being right more often!
5. You learn that mistakes are simply opportunities to learn more.
One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that, although painful at times, mistakes are merely feedback. As you adopt an open-minded mindset, when you make a mistake, you can think about what went wrong on a deeper level. Now if you find that if you made an error in judgement, or that your knowledge isn’t spot on, you realize that you simply need to do a little more research and/or practice more.
A close-minded person, on the other hand, is less likely to consider all the lessons from their failures. This makes it much harder for them to benefit from the lesson.
6. You reduce your (self) limits.
Your possibilities are limited mainly by the size of your thinking. Anything is possible if you can only open your mind wide enough. When you have a very limited scope, you and your life are very limited, too.
7. You’ll love more people, and more people will love you.
Like we talked about before, people like people who like them. Since open-minded people are more accepting of others, they are less likely to offend or to be offended. They are also more interesting because they are more interested in others. All of these qualities add up to the potential to be a more loving person.
Use these strategies to become more open-minded:
The practice of mindfulness is a wonderful method for establishing this habit. By being in the moment and listening with the intent of understanding, you can avoid reacting reflexively to other people’s opinions. When something begins to trigger you, rather than leap to a conclusion of the opinion of someone else, take a breath, stop and think. Ask the other person questions so you can better understand what they are saying. Ask them why they believe that. You might learn something you either didn’t know or never considered.
2. Read books, listen to lectures and/or watch videos on topics that are counter to your opinion.
It’s easy to be siloed into your own opinion, especially if you get most of your information online. Instead, if you prefer liberal ideas, read a book or watch a lecture by a conservative.
For example, are you someone who doubts that global warming exists? Read a book or watch a video by a climate scientist that strongly supports the theory of global warming.
3. Expose yourself to new people.
More than ever, we are hanging out with people that are like ourselves. While that can feel comfortable, it won’t help you learn anything new. Look for opportunities to meet new people. It’s almost certain that they have something to offer that’s new for you.
I don’t know how many people I’ve met who have told me that they have never traveled out of their city, or state. Since they don’t meet anyone new, they aren’t exposed to any new ideas.
Instead, make it a point to explore new places and things. Even if it’s just a new town or city. The man I told you about in the beginning of this email had traveled to over 50 countries in his life and credited his travels to his open-mindedness. Have you ever been to a third-world country or to a place where no one looks like you? Different cultures value different things. Enjoy the adventure of traveling!
You Can Become More Open-minded
It takes work to become and remain more open-minded. But it’s worth it. It can help you see the world in a whole different light.
While close-minded people tend to find comfort in the fact that their beliefs are certainties to them, it doesn’t allow them to see any alternatives.
Use these tips to open your mind and see what a difference it makes in your life.
Try it! You just might like it!
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