“During the day, I don’t believe in ghosts. At night, I’m a little more open-minded.” —Anonymous
Being open-minded is easier said than done. Everyone is raised with a different set of values and beliefs. Throughout our lives, we tend to surround ourselves with people who are like us and share our belief system. You sincerely believe that you’re right and those who think differently are just plain wrong. It’s that genuine belief that you’re right that’s behind your desire for other people to be, and think, more like you. You expect them to behave the way you want them to.
Being open-minded to diverse people and beliefs can immeasurably enrich your life. Open-mindedness is the ability to be receptive to something new and different. Sounds simple enough but it’s difficult when that “something new” contradicts what you believe. Staying open-minded is tough to put into practice when you’re confronted with people who are very different than you.
Keeping an open mind helps you to grow because you allow yourself to embrace new ideas and people. Here are reasons, and ways, to help you become more open-minded.
Two people can witness the same incident and walk away with differing viewpoints on what happened. That’s because everyone views everything through a slightly different lens. We each categorize and understand the world based on how we were raised and our experiences. Our brains are wired accordingly which is why we each interpret the same information differently.
Most disagreements are caused by different perceptions that created different realities. It doesn’t mean that one is necessarily “right” and the other is “wrong.” As Friedrich Nietzsche wisely noted: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” —Frank Zappa
Open-mindedness is being forgiving of others who hold opinions which you disagree with. You allow them to see the world through their distinct lens, not yours. It means to hold space for a viewpoint that varies wildly from yours.
Acceptance Brings About Peace and Happiness
Our aversion to people who are different from us arises out of fear and self-protection. Research has shown that fear decreases the more we are exposed to those who are different. Change takes place with exposure and conditioning.
What are your deepest fears related to people who are dissimilar to you? Once you pinpoint the fear, you can examine whether it’s rational. Is it worth keeping that fear against the value to be gained by openness and exploration? That’s where expansion, enrichment and growth happen.
People who differ from us show us who we really are. The contrasts between us make our identity more obvious. When you constantly surround yourself with those similar to you, you miss the opportunity to discover more about yourself. To become the best version of yourself, you need to engage in relationships with those who aren’t anything like you. Maybe it’s time to step outside of your comfort zone. Stay open-minded and deliberately expose yourself to people with a totally opposite viewpoint than yours. Read books and blogs that challenge your worldview. Watch thought-provoking documentaries and movies. It may not change your opinions but it may help you simply accept the differences. It’s through acceptance that you find peace and happiness. The world will be a better place for it.