Open-mindedness is the ultimate positive characteristic a person can have in this day and age. While it gets all of the attention in mainstream media and bestselling self-help books, is the meaning of this word really as clear-cut as it’s shaped up to be? Or are there multiple ways of being open-minded?
Oxford Languages define open-mindedness as the willingness to consider new ideas and the lack of prejudice. This is a quite accurate, albeit broad definition. Keeping an open mind is key to maintaining good relations with people you interact with, regardless of whether they’re coworkers, family members, or friends.
Authors from Self-Development Secrets admit that being an open-minded person does not come naturally. It is a result of significant amounts of self-work in order to elevate the state of consciousness above simple tribalism and sticking to what is familiar. Some people may have an easier time adapting to this new mindset than others but in the end, everyone stands to gain a lot from adopting an open-minded approach to life.
If you’re struggling to combat prejudice and the fear of the unknown, check out these 5 simple tips that will help you on your way to becoming a more open-minded person.
Don’t Let Anger Get the Better of You
If you react with anger or sarcasm to everything you disagree with, not only will people think you’re a jerk, but it will also keep you jailed in that closed-minded prison you’re trying to get out of (or at least pretending to by reading this article). Aside from the fact that it’s impolite to get angry at or ridicule people’s genuine thoughts and opinions, this type of approach will never let you open up your mind and heart to new things and ways of looking at the world.
The key to having an enriching and eye-opening conversation is trying to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. If you keep looking at their worldview through the prism of your own opinions, all you’re going to get out of the experience is an inaccurate judgment of the other person’s character.
Ask Questions, But Don’t Question Everything
This piece of advice neatly ties up with the first point on this list, since asking questions is the best way to avoid personal bias in approaching any kind of a conversation. If you’re not sure as to why someone would hold a certain opinion, ask detail-oriented and challenging questions that pertain to that topic instead of imposing your beliefs on others. This is how open-minded people argue conflicting points of view.
Try to Be Fun at Parties (Make New Friends)
Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should become the “clown” or the “cool guy” of every party. In fact, it means the exact opposite. Taking up a cliche party personality is about as far from an open-minded approach to meeting people as possible. Instead of trying to get everyone to like you by making a fool out of yourself or drinking way too much hard liquor in one go, try to expose yourself to new information and characters by chatting up people you’re not exactly familiar with.
Staying social is key to keeping an open mind, and while it doesn’t mean blowing your circle of acquaintances out of proportion, staying open to new people and being friendly to strangers goes a long way in terms of getting rid of prejudices.
Step Out of Your Bubble
Your comfort zone is like the lock that keeps your mind closed and unwilling to try new things. In order to unleash its full potential, you need to try and break that lock as often as possible. It doesn’t have to mean traveling to another continent or suddenly taking up an extreme sport, but rather continuing to push yourself towards things and experiences that challenge you to be better at them, whatever they are. You can start going to the gym or take up cooking classes — as long as it allows you to track your progress and doesn’t get too comfortable, it’s a great way to break out of the prison your mind can sometimes become.
Expose Yourself to Novelty
If stepping out of your comfort bubble is the key to unlocking your mind, then keeping yourself open to new experiences and regularly exposing yourself to them is the brick that keeps your head from closing up again. There is no shortage of new things to take a shot at, from sports through languages to going away to a country you’ve never been to before. It can even be as simple as trying a novel dish the old you would never put in their mouth.
The steps outlined above are very effective at helping you become and stay open-minded throughout your life, but it is important to be consistent in following these rules. Being open-minded doesn’t mean diving headfirst into chaos, but rather structuring your life in a way that allows you to get enriched by outside influences. Whether that structure is getting yourself to try one new thing per day or trying to engage in conversations with people holding viewpoints that are different from yours, as long as you stick to it, you’ll notice significant improvements in your interpersonal relations and general well-being.