My friend Armen over at TimelessInformation had a great post that really got me thinking in a brief discussion and comment with him and still afterwards now.  His article titled Quality, Traffic and Criticism, included a piece about communities that form within sites or blogs and how some accept criticism and debates and others turn a cold shoulder and send visitors who challenge them away.   This practice of embracing visitors and welcoming a discussion I believe is a true demonstration of keeping an open mind.  On the other hand, bloggers and forums that tell people to leave if they don’t like something or agree with it, shows clearly how close minded they are.

Armen mentioned this is a sign of needing acceptance from their group and I think this very accurate!  When someone is not open minded, they tend to seek approval for what they believe in and don’t have the confidence to consider something else and then defend their point of view constructively or objectively.

Open Mindedness Stems From Beliefs

On the other hand, someone who is open minded will most importantly know that they could be wrong and that beliefs may change and likely will over time.  This is important since so much we do is shaped by our beliefs, having an understanding of those beliefs truly shapes our characters and in this case, how open minded we are.

  • You cannot be open minded and never willing to let a belief change.
  • You cannot be open minded and avoiding a debate you have not yet had because of some unknown risk to that belief.
  • You can be open minded by knowing how your beliefs have changed in the past.
  • You can be open minded by knowing that your beliefs are going to change again as you learn more about yourself and about life.

Kill the Need For Acceptance

So as Armen mentioned, being open minded can have a lot to do with acceptance as well.  To have an open mind, it is important to accept oneself but not be burdened by seeking acceptance from others.  The reason for this is because it is very easy to be locked into a mindset of way of doing things when struggling to be or stay accepted by others.  That struggling for acceptance will limit how open you are to change and new ways of thinking or behaving.  To change this, you must kill the need for acceptance  and be willing to risk change.  Know that there are possibilities to find acceptance in new things and by new people as well, but don’t rely on having or you will struggle to move on to new things.

Have New Experiences

Experiences teach us more than any other activity and the more a person experiences and the more variety in those experiences, the more likely they will be to have an open mind.  Everyone knows someone or has some experience travelling to, learning about or living in difficult cultures and it can be very revealing.  Things can be done differently by others and seeing this helps us to realize that we don’t have to do everything the same way as may have learned it or developed habits with.  Variety in our experiences quickly teaches us to explore life, to seek out new exciting things around us and to not limit to what is already known.  This ties to tightly to learning I am very passionate about this.  Having new experiences gives us a lot to learn from and every time we learn, we carve away our borders of certainty and become a bit more open to change and new ideas.  This is very important for having an open mind.  Locking out new experiences and living life without new experiences creates a type of security in our minds that resists change. And I mean resisting change without a reason for standing up against it.

Embrace Change

So as I just mentioned new experiences bring about change.  Its inevitable and how we react to that change is really what shapes out openness.  Do you embrace the changes you face in life or do you resist them?  Are you optimistic that a change will have a good outcome or do you fear the worst?  Being optimistic and not being afraid of new things will help you embrace change and to have an open mind.  Embracing change is more than just accepting it as well, its really about seeking change and even promoting it or hoping for it.  Change is a powerful tool to shape the way we think and understanding how quickly our thinking is formed lets us look readily for change and what benefits can come about from it.

Expand Your Social Circle

Another way to learn to have an open mind is through your friends and relationships.  Every person is such a unique individual with their own perspective on life shaped their own experiences, there is a lot to be learned in relationships with others.  Having a variety of friends and lots of social interaction inevitably leads to discussions about experiences, stories and shared opinions, debates and likely disagreements.  All these things challenge what you know and think about and its a fantastic way to explore new ideas, learn from others and to create a need to have an open mind.  The social environment with others relates back to the topic of acceptance I mentioned above and its common for people to use acceptance positively in this situation.  Seeking out new friendships and connections often forces some level of compromise and acceptance of the other person in order to get along with them.  This acceptance of other people and their ideas helps you to be more open minded  and willing to consider something you may not have on your own otherwise.  So, if you want to know how to have an open mind, expanding and seeking a wide set of friends and social circle is a great way to do it!

Nurture Your Creativity

Creativity is the last area I consider important in learning how to have an open mind.  Being creative and doing creative activities help to develop right brain thinking, which also enables us to think outside the box and not be as limited and close minded about life and our experiences.  Take opportunities to develop and nurture your creativity by actively taking on hobbies, writing, creative content creation or building things, basically anything that requires you to be creative.  Many people have this opportunity in their work as well which is a fantastic way to truly nurture creativity.  Whenever you can, participate or volunteer for creative projects to practice and develop more creativity.  Natural creativity and open minded thinking go hand in hand, as you must let your mind seek new things and be creative to truly have an open mind.

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