If you often have definite ideas about how things are or how you think they should be, you’ve probably been told by someone to “keep an open mind.” Having, or developing, an open mind is important to everyone’s success in life. Embracing, or at least considering, new ideas is vital to our personal growth.
Are you willing to consider someone else’s opinion? We all have our personal filter mechanisms through which we see the world. But can you look at information that may seem suspect and consider it without any bias? If you’re open-minded, you can be flexible when met with new or different ideas. It means you can adapt and grow with new learning experiences.
Being able to think critically is a vital component of being open-minded. In our quickly changing world, it’s important to employ critical thinking not only to new information we receive but also to our own filter mechanisms, through which we see that information.
It’s also important to be willing to change your perspective when you’re exposed to new information. But also to remember that you aren’t the only one with filter mechanisms. We all have them, including those who propagate the information to which we are all exposed. This is especially crucial in the times in which we live today.
- All information we are exposed to has been prepared through the filter mechanisms (biases) of the author. We experience that information through our own biases. Critical thinking can remove all bias and provide an accurate context for you to make up your own mind.
Here are some more ways to learn how to be more open-minded:
- Decide now that you don’t have to be right all the time. While it isn’t unusual for some people to be obsessed with being right, it’s not something that’s looked favourably upon. No one can be right all the time, not even you!
- Try to be relaxed when discussing new ideas rather than having a knee-jerk reaction to be right.
- Recognize that there are many reasons why people have certain beliefs. They may be from a different country or have different life experiences that have shaped those beliefs. Someone born at an earlier time would also see things differently than you.
- There isn’t anything wrong with seeing things differently to others. We are all unique in the world and we can all learn something from each other.
- Learn to listen carefully. Rather than jumping in with your opinion, let the other person finish speaking. Then use active, or reflective, listening to understand and clarify their ideas:
- Repeat back to them what you understood. Respectfully ask questions when you don’t understand or agree with their position.
- Look at things from a different perspective. Before deciding that a new idea doesn’t have merit, consider doing some research to understand the concept better. Consider the way the other person explained the idea and see if it makes more sense after you’ve researched it.
- Rather than dismiss a new or different perspective out of hand, do your own research into the idea before you make up your mind.
- “Walk a mile” in someone else’s shoes. Spend some time with others who wouldn’t normally be part of your circle. For example, doing volunteer work or by finding other ways to meet new people with different life experiences. This will allow you to see things from a range of different perspectives.
- Take time to try something new. There is no better way to open your mind to new ideas than trying something new. Learning new skills or taking up a new hobby can open your mind in ways that nothing else will. Give it a try; you may be pleasantly surprised!
While you’re learning to be open-minded to new ideas, remember that it’s fine and good to hold onto some beliefs and stand up for what you believe in. In fact, one of the best ways to learn to be more open-minded is to start by making sure you know who you really are, to begin with.
- Understanding your personal values and authentically living them, is a crucial starting point when opening your mind to new ideas. Ask yourself: How does this new idea fit with my own personal values, with who I am?
Just because an idea is new to you doesn’t mean you must agree with it to be open-minded. Having an open mind will strengthen your skills to evaluate new ideas intelligently and separate truth from fiction, in your life and in this changing world.
Need help figuring out your personal values or who you really are? Read this featured post: Find The Inner You! – PERSONAL FULFILMENT THROUGH SELF-AWARENESS