I am a person who believes the road to self-improvement and personal growth is to always remain open-minded. I try to consider what other people think, especially when their thoughts and beliefs differ from mine. I debate things in my head. I mull over both sides of an argument and attempt to convince myself that both sides are correct. I feel that this helps me from being closed minded, from thinking or believing things just because I think I should. I almost never take things people tell me as absolute truth, I research on my own to find out what I believe and think. It is important to me that I never shut down someone else who believes differently than I do. I want to listen, even if I believe they are wrong. I feel this helps me to become a well rounded, compassionate person. I think this also helps me know with conviction why I think or feel a certain thing.
These 6 ways to keep an open mind are excellent tools that anyone can use to develop and practice the abilities to tame stubbornness, to overcome the notion to reject new ideas without giving them a chance, and to even gain an appreciation for such things. Being close-minded is a sure way to prevent growth and development, and I can only imagine that it is a miserable way to live life. Never experiencing new things would certainly make for an awfully boring journey through life.
I try to always keep an open mind, but I’ll admit that there are times when it is difficult to do so. Many of us are socially conditioned to immediately reject certain things without even thinking about it. Social conditioning is often detrimental to one’s attempts to keep an open mind. Is there something that triggers you to shut down and reject that thing without even thinking about it? If so, practice these 6 ways to keep an open mind, and it should help you curb that.
1. Try foods that are new to you
I have always said I would try anything once. Yet, I still often struggle to give new foods a chance, but I challenge myself to keep an open mind and try foods that I am unfamiliar with. I know that even if I don’t like the food after trying it, I will at least benefit from the experience. There are so many different types of food available in this world. I would hate to permanently limit myself to options that only include foods that I currently know that I like.
2. Listen to music that you ordinarily wouldn’t listen to
It always amazes me when someone claims to appreciate music, yet when asked what types of music they like, they only mention one genre. In other cases, the person may list several genres, but when asked to name their preferred artists or bands, they give names that are all in the same genre. That’s not music appreciation. I personally have always said I hate country music, however when I stop and push that prejudice aside, I find that there are many country songs that I actually do enjoy.
To truly appreciate music, one must experience a large variety of music rather than listen only to the music which that person is comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to expand your comfort zone; this is a key to learning to keep an open mind. You don’t have to love a particular type of music to find it interesting and to appreciate the artist’s efforts and intentions in creating it.
Try listening to various different types of music that you typically wouldn’t listen to, and as an exercise, make a mental note of which specific things you like about that type of music. This is a terrific way to practice keeping an open mind. Who knows, you may even find a lot of new music that you like!
3. Consider opposing arguments and perspectives
This is especially important when it comes to sensitive topics such as politics and religion. Most people no longer adhere to the old ways of not discussing these two topics in public. Remember that no point of view is perfect, and that there are at least two sides to every argument. While you may think your beliefs are flawless, there will always be someone who disagrees.
Always consider the opposing argument. Prepare yourself for the fact that there could be some truth to your opponent’s argument, and be willing to accept that truth when you hear it. At the very least, this will make you better at debating your belief, and will, of course, strengthen your ability to keep an open mind.
I often study arguments that oppose my own views. This occasionally leads me to change my position on something. Whether I modify my position or not though, it always makes my argument stronger, because I know which points my opponent will argue before he or she even mentions them.
4. Travel – even if only to a neighboring city
Visiting new places can broaden your horizons in so many ways in which nothing else can. You can gain many new perspectives by traveling to some place that you’ve never been before. Experiencing new life and new energy from things which you have never previously explored is what keeping an open mind is all about. You can walk around to gain a new perspective, even in your own city. If you can’t experience something new, at least experience something in a different way.
5. Try activities that you’ve never been interested in
Have you never stepped foot into a museum or an art gallery just because you weren’t interested? Now is the time to visit them. If you go and don’t like it, at least you have the experience of having gone. When you tell people you don’t like art galleries or museums, at least you’ll now be able to tell them specifically what you dislike about each. On the other hand, perhaps you’ll find something new that you enjoy.
If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to do this, make a game out of it. Create a list of things you aren’t interested in but haven’t actually tried, and have a friend do the same. Then see who can complete the most activities on their list within a specific timeframe.
6. Confront your fears whenever possible (and logical)
Obviously, if you have a fear of sharks, it would be illogical to go swimming untrained and unprotected in shark-infested waters just to confront that fear. However, if you have a fear of flying, for example, get on an airplane and fly somewhere the next time the opportunity arises. Maybe it will help you get over the fear of flying; maybe it won’t. It should expand your comfort zone however, and it will give you some new life experience, a new perspective on flying and airports, and the satisfaction that comes from confronting a fear. Wasps terrify me, but when I force myself to sit at watch them I can understand that they are just simply another life form, doing what they must to survive. Their goal is not to harm me, but simply to promote the survival of its colony. Forcing myself to understand this helps calm my irrational fear.
Practice these 6 ways to keep an open mind and you’ll likely find yourself getting more enjoyment out of life.