In the article What Does It Mean To Be Open Minded? we examined the definition and characteristics of open-mindedness. In this article we take a look at the benefits and steps you can take to become more open-minded.
First, what are some of the benefits of being more open-minded?
- Gaining Insight: Challenging your existing beliefs and considering how new ideas can give you fresh insights not only about the world, it can also teach you new things about yourself.
- Having New Experiences: Being open to other ideas can also open you up to new experiences.
- Achieving Personal Growth: Keeping an open mind can help you grow as a person. You learn new things about the world and the people around you.
- Feeling More Optimistic: One of the problems with staying closed-minded is that it often leads to a greater sense of negativity. Being open can help inspire a more optimistic attitude toward life and the future and improve your problem solving skills.
- Learning New Things: It’s hard to keep learning when you surround yourself with the same old ideas, the same old people, and the same old experiences. Pushing your boundaries, perspectives, and experiences can help keep your mind fresh.
How to Be More Open Minded
Learning how to be more open minded is possible, but it can be a bit of a challenge. In fact, being open-minded can be hard. It doesn’t help that our minds are often geared toward absolutes, shortcuts, and simplification. Even if being open-minded does not come naturally to you, there are things that you can do to cultivate a receptive attitude that leaves you open to new perspectives, knowledge, people, and experiences. It takes a lot of mental effort, but here are some of the things you can do to train your brain to be more open-minded.
Fight the confirmation bias. The confirmation bias involves paying more attention to things that confirm our existing beliefs, while at the same time discounting evidence that challenges what we think. Being aware of the confirmation bias is perhaps one of the best ways to combat it. As you encounter information, take a moment to consider how this bias might affect how you evaluate the information. If it seems like you are readily accepting something because it supports your existing arguments, take a moment to consider some arguments that might challenge your ideas.
Ask questions. Part of being open minded involves being able to question not just others, but also yourself. As you encounter new information, ask yourself a few key questions:
- How much do you really know about the topic?
- How trustworthy is the source?
- Have you considered other ideas? Other sources?
- Do you have any biases that might be influencing your thinking?
In some instances, self-questioning might help deepen your commitment to your beliefs. Or it might provide insights that you hadn’t considered before.
Sit with it. Give yourself time to consider the arguments and evaluate the evidence. After you hear something, take a few moments to consider the following points before you respond:
- Are your own arguments based upon multiple sources?
- Are you willing to revise your opinion in the face of conflicting evidence?
- Will you hold on to your opinion even if the evidence discounts it?
Just being willing to consider other perspectives can be a challenge, but it can be even more difficult when you find yourself having to revise your own beliefs as a result. Time can help.
Practice humility. Even if you are an expert on a topic, try to keep in mind that research has shown being knowledgeable about something can actually contribute to closed-mindedness. When people think that they are an authority on a topic or believe that they already know all there is to know, they are less willing to take in new information and entertain new ideas. This not only limits your learning potential, but it can also lead people to overestimate their own knowledge of a topic, making them blind to their own ignorance. True experts tend to actually be more humble about their knowledge; they know that there is always more to learn. Without an open mind you’ll never get to know what others know.
Cherish them. Cherish those who show you things you might have missed, because the most commendable quality of open minded people is that, with them, you’ll go places spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and literally you may have never been.
If open mindedness is a spectrum, are you aware of where you fall?
Posted on December 17, 2019