“Closed-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged. They are typically frustrated that they can’t get the other person to agree with them instead of curious as to why the other person disagrees.” – Ray Dalio, a self-made billionaire
“Keeping the mind open to new ideas, not being too anxious about success, putting 100% effort and meditation is the formula for entrepreneurs.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
“An open-minded person sees life without boundaries, whereas a close-minded person can only see what’s beyond their eyes.” – Kaoru Shinmon.
These days many people talk about the importance of being open-minded. But what exactly means to be open-minded? If you are an open-minded person, you are receptive to new ideas, opinions and information. Thanks to this, you are able to think critically and rationally.
If you are an open-minded person you probably possess the following qualities. You are always curious about other people’s opinions. You don’t mind if others are trying to question or challenge your ideas. You don’t feel angry when someone else is proving you wrong. You are an empathetic person. If you know something that other people don’t, you are very humble about it. And you are a strong believer that everyone has a right to share what is on their mind.
Benefits of being an open-minded person
Being an open-minded person entails various benefits. Let’s have a look at some of them. There is mounting evidence suggesting that people with open minds experience their lives in a completely different way.
Scientists have revealed that being open to new things and not judging others can significantly affect the way we perceive reality. They also found that being an open-minded person helps us maintain healthy relationships with our family, friends and our significant others.
Other benefits of being an open-minded person include:
1. You will become knowledgeable and gain a lot of new insight. When you constantly challenge the ideas that you have always taken for granted and embrace new ones, you learn new things about the world around you. You will keep your mind fresh and sharp.
2. You will be able to deal with stress more easily.
3. You will have many new supportive friends.
4. You will be much better at conflict-solving
5. Your confidence will increase.
6. You will start seeing the world, from a new, positive perspective.
7. It will be easier for you to accept change.
8. You will be able to live a life of happiness.
9. People won’t be able to manipulate you.
10. You will be more optimistic about your life and the future.
11. You will be able to build more harmonious relationships with other people.
12. You will be able to learn from your mistakes and they won’t hurt your self-esteem.
How to be open-minded
So now that we know that being open-minded is important, let’s take a look at the things that we can do in our lives in order to be open-minded people.
Try to be a good listener.
Being present to others and listening to them in a manner that shows that you are engaged is one of the most significant components of being an open-minded person. If you want to be a good listener you need to be genuinely curious about what your interlocutor is saying. Put away your phone, your computer or anything that distracts you and focus on the person speaking to you.
Remember the importance of making good eye contact with the speaker. Demonstrate verbal and nonverbal listening cues. Avoid finishing the sentences of your interlocutor. Don’t interrupt. Be ready to ask open-ended questions that will allow the speaker to feel like he or she is actually being listened to. When you are open to listening to other people’s opinions, you are opening up your mind as well.
Seek new experiences.
Make having a new experience your monthly or weekly goal. Indeed, to become open-minded you often need to take active action in order to broaden your horizons. One first and obvious step here could be trying to get yourself to experience a new thing each month.
If you are in doubt as to what kind of experience you can expose yourself to, you can try the following. Choose a book or a magazine from a genre that you have always considered unsuitable for you. Try a new restaurant. Visit a new neighborhood or a town. Spend a day volunteering –most people have never done that in their lives. Listen to a new radio station.
Examine issues that trigger immediate and intense reactions in you.
It is important to bear in mind that if you want to become open-minded it doesn’t mean that you have to change your opinion about things around you. It merely means looking at things from a different perspective. Take some time to think about what issues you feel strongly about – for example, issues from the realm of politics, religion or other controversial realms.
Most people usually view these problems in black-and-white and simplistic terms. Most people also believe that your opinion about these issues can be strictly right or wrong. And most people who believe so are close-minded.
So it’s very important to try and get rid of this unproductive attitude because it does nothing but sow disagreements and makes people more close-minded. Instead, try to make a genuine effort to fathom why your interlocutor has a different point of view. You will soon find out that this is probably not because your interlocutor is intellectually inferior, but because their life experiences were different from yours.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Many people may not like this idea. Be vulnerable? Yes, exactly. There is nothing more helpful to becoming open-minded than allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Life is life. Sometimes when you try new things they may disappoint you. Or when you reach out to new people – they can let you down. It is completely normal.
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, just accept that and move on. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Soon you will get used to this fact of life – when things go awry (and they often do) everything is still okay. With the right attitude, you can always, always turn negative experiences into positive ones. Stop thinking that failures are always bad, instead treat them as the lessons of life that you have learned.
Be more social.
Make new friends. Again, this one may sound easy, but it is actually not. But the truth is that the more new people you get to know, the more likely you will be to experience new ideas and worldviews. Socializing and actively looking for new people is crucial to developing an open mind.
It is impossible to force your friendship on other people. But you can make the first steps to make new friendships arise. Joining a club, taking up a new hobby or even speaking to your colleague sitting at the next desk at work could pave the way for new friendships.
Avoid making assumptions about everything.
Making assumptions inhibits open-mindedness and makes you less likely to embrace new things and experiences. Have you ever caught yourself thinking the following? “That’s not what I like”. “I am sure I will never fit it”. “People who think like that are all”. These assumptions prevent you from becoming an open-minded person.
In order to avoid making assumptions about other people and things, you need to embrace the fact that you do it. Then you need to make a conscious effort to refrain from making assumptions or change the way you phrase your assumptions. For example, instead of saying to yourself “I would never like that”, “I am not sure whether I would like it but I would be willing to give it a shot”. By rephrasing your assumptions in this way, you are opening yourself up to new experiences.
Remember that mental rigidity is your worst enemy.
What is mental rigidity? It is a lack of flexibility when it comes to embracing new ideas, people and situations. For example, if you have mental rigidity it means that you are always reluctant to try new things because you think that the result will not be worthwhile or something bad will happen. If you are prone to mental rigidity and would like to get rid of it, you need to learn how to go with the flow.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.