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The Power of an Open Mind in a Close-Minded Culture

Updated on February 15, 2011

An open mind opens up your life to incredible possibilities...

                                                   Photo Credit: David Niblack

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised?

Let’s say you’re a conservative, fairly straight-laced person, and you cross paths with someone who’s got the hardcore-punk look. On the outside, you look as different as night and day, but when you start talking to the person, you’ve got more in common than you realize. Or, you’re a die-hard basketball fan, who reluctantly goes to a volleyball game and finds it to be kind of fun. Or, you only ever listen to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, only to tune in to a classical radio station and be soothed by the sound of a Bach Brandenburg Concerto.

OK, maybe I’m pushing it, but you get the point.

The world would be a better place if we were all more open-minded. When you have an open mind, you think outside the box. Life becomes full of opportunity and promise that you didn’t know existed before. You constantly discover new things. Suddenly, you’re inundated with the feeling that maybe nothing is truly impossible after all.

Your world will change for the better as you become a little open-minded...

...Towards People

Learn not to write people off. Give everyone a chance. Sure, someone might look and sound different—the person might even have a hard time speaking your language—but that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t worth getting to know. You never know what insights you might gain.

A lot of our fears of associating with people who seem “different” might stem from our childhood, when we were warned of the perils of talking to strangers. Of course, as adults, when we meet people, we shouldn’t ignore our instincts and we should exercise reasonable caution. But that shouldn’t stop us from broadening our horizons and engaging others who seem a little different from us in superficial ways. Remember, whether they’re older, younger, of a different ethnicity, from a different country—everyone has emotions, hopes, goals and dreams, just like you. Try striking up a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally be inclined to talk to, and see what fascinating things you can discover.

                                                   Photo Credit: David Niblack

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to those whose religious, philosophical, and/or political beliefs are different from yours. Again, there’s something to be learned from the most unexpected sources, even if all you gain is more confidence in your own deeply-held principles.

...Towards Places

If you’ve lived in America your whole life, you don’t really know how the rest of the 6,300,000,000 people in the world live. You might have gotten an idea of what it’s like to be in certain other countries and societies from movies and TV, but you still don’t have that irreplaceable first-hand knowledge. So why not go out and gain it?

It’s one thing to see exciting locales and exotic cultures on television, but it’s something entirely different to be there yourself, to breathe the air of a place you’ve never been before. You’d discover foods, cultural traditions and activities galore. It’ll make you well-rounded, more interesting person when you return to more familiar shores. It may even open your eyes to the possibility of living in another country someday.

If you’re from New York, venture out to the West Coast sometime and see what life is like in L.A. If you’ve never been to a tropical island, check out the Pacific Islands or the U.S. or British Virgin Islands. If you want to learn more about the classical foundations of Western civilization and culture, go on a guided tour of the ruins of Ancient Greece and Italy. It takes time, money and planning, but when you can, take advantage of opportunities to travel, and see for yourself how your whole outlook on life will change.

...Towards Yourself

Ever been stuck on a problem? Ever lost your keys and you couldn’t find them, no matter how much you cursed them for getting up and walking out of the house? Or maybe you’ve had a bigger issue to contend with, such as a hard life-altering decision. Whatever the case may be, an open mind helps you solve problems more efficiently and see sticky situations in a new light.

For example, maybe you’re so stressed out about losing your keys that you fail to realize simple solutions like turning the lights on (the more light you have, the easier it is to find things) or doing some light organizing (when your surroundings are organized and neat, it’s hard to lose anything).

If you’re facing much bigger obstacles in life, remember to calm down. If you approach the problem with calmness (which helps you think more clearly) and the confidence that you will adapt and be stronger in the end, things will usually work in your favor.

Here are some enjoyable ways to increase your open-mindedness while giving your brain a workout:

- Play brain-enhancing games. They’re fun and a great stress reliever! Feel good and guilt-free, knowing that you’re building up your brain while relieving boredom or stress.

Chess: one of the most popular and effective brain-enhancing games.

                                                                    Photo Credit:

- Write more. Even if you’re not much of a writer, you’d be surprised how much jotting down creative ideas or keeping a journal can empower you.

- Read a book. Isn’t it incredible that, as we grow up, we begin to take our basic skills, like reading, for granted? You’re never too old—or too young, for that matter—to develop a love and passion for reading. Whether it’s a novel, a textbook, or a biography, reading allows your imagination to run free. It’s a welcome reprieve from “real life,” and you might just discover something new or pick up a few ideas to apply to your daily routine. It only breeds more open-mindedness!

- Play a musical instrument. Learning to play an instrument, even as a hobbyist, is one of the most fun adventures you can set out on. Rather than popping in a CD when you want to listen to music, you have the freedom to be your own entertainment.

Being more open-minded towards yourself also means increasing your sense of self-esteem, focusing on positive things, and seeing the negative things in your life as challenges and opportunities to improve yourself. When you do this, you free yourself up to follow your dreams. Nothing holds you back from doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. You learn not to measure yourself in terms of other people, but by your own resilience and initiative.

These are just a few ways in which the power of an open mind can enrich your life. True wealth is not in material luxuries and riches—it will always be in our attitude towards life.

How do you exercise an open mind?


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    • Woman Of Courage profile image

      Woman Of Courage 7 years ago

      BennyTheWriter: You are welcome,and thank you also.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks a lot sofs! Breaking down those barriers in our lives is truly a component of the path to growth.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Openness is the only way to learn!! Most often we are unwilling to move out our comfort zones and experiment with the unknown. Well written hub!!

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Woman of Courage: Right on! Thanks for stopping by, and welcome to HubPages!

    • Woman Of Courage profile image

      Woman Of Courage 7 years ago

      I love this article! There is truly power in having an open mind, because it gives us a chance to explore new opportunities.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      An openly perceptive self-awareness is definitly an advantage,an inclusive opinion would universaly be beneficial;)

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks samsons1, I appreciate it.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 7 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up & useful! very good advice for all. Well written informative and concise...

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks Baileybear; I happen to agree, of course :)

    • profile image

      Baileybear 7 years ago

      If only more people in the world could be more open-minded = more tolerant, more creative, more adventurous.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      @BkCreative: It's awesome to hear you say that. Certainly, being from a place like New York and having to integrate peacefully with many different types can confer the advantage of open-mindedness on a person. That's what did it for me. My high school was so diverse, for example, that I learned there was nothing to fear about people of different cultures. We're all more alike than we are different.

      @Tkumah: Thanks for your kind words. It's true, it's one big, beautiful planet we all share, one common human experience. We might as well open our minds to each other and the possibilities of life!

    • Tkumah profile image

      Tkumah 7 years ago

      Excellent presentation of a very important issue. What is funny is that every culture view the same thing differently. By the time we unite, nothing will matter.

      Awesome and useful:)

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      As much as I complain about New York City - I have to admit that the advantage of being a native NYer is that I have had to open my mind - I mean everyone on earth lives here or passes through here. It has made it so easy for me to travel abroad - even live abroad. I have been told that I fit right in. I think the term is 'worldly' - a very nice compliment.

      Thanks for a hub with plenty of food for thought. As the slogan for the UNCF states "A mind is a terrible thing to waste!" - so true.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Yes brettb, I have to agree with you :) We get so much more out of life that way.

    • brettb profile image

      brettb 7 years ago from London

      Thinking outside the box is great!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ..the most powerful tool in the artistic community no matter what side you're on - as a writer or a reader - what potential we have - when this is put to good use ......

      Another fine hub which makes me think .... and thinking is a good thing - you are a master at this!!!

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks SilentReed! I've learned so much from people of different ethnicities and cultures, and the more I learn about different people, the more I realize that we're all the same (more or less). We are all human; the fact that we share 99.9% of our DNA among us attests to the fact that we're all so incredibly similar to each other. And yet, our unique life experiences and perspectives lend breathtaking diversity and variety to the human race. I seek friends from all walks of life.

    • SilentReed profile image

      SilentReed 7 years ago from Philippines

      An open mind toward people of different race and culture is certainly the best way to reduce racism. Trying new experience will not only open up more possibilities for us but also allow us to live a fuller life. Your style of writing makes this an enjoyable read. Thanks.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks a lot, Tamarii2, for stopping by! I'm glad you like the hub, and I'm glad you find it useful. Even the most enlightened among us can benefit from expanding the mind.

    • Tamarii2 profile image

      Tamarii2 7 years ago from NEW YORK

      Useful hub and I enjoyed reading it.Thank you for responding to my question on comments.I see here your skill and gift for writing.Keep your journey alive it has great rewards.peace!

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Jai: Thanks a lot! It's amazing how the days will pass us by if we spend too much time thinking about "what could've been" instead of focusing on the here and now. That's why I'm encouraging everyone to seize the day.

    • Jai Warren profile image

      Jai Warren 7 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

      I like your style. People get trapped in the mundane routine of everyday life and forget the amazing opportunity that each day gives us to learn, experience and grow as a person. Great Hub Benny! Ciao...

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      billyaustindillon: thanks a lot! As long as we live in a free society, we should take advantage, expanding our knowledge of ourselves and the world as much as possible, if for nothing more than personal fulfillment and a sense of satisfaction. Opening your mind simply "feels good" much of the time.

      Sometimes we do need to close our eyes and ears to the media and pop culture. I personally consider it useful to keep a pulse on what's going on in the world, but it can really be draining on one's own creativity and can "shut down" independent thought if one isn't careful.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Nice hub - we need to an open mind to grow as individuals and societies. Unfortunately media companies and governments do their best to close them - nothing lie a bit of xenophobia to close your mind. We need to be aware of that - travel, music, reading - they are all great ways to open your mind. Nice hub.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      BumptiousQ: Great points man! There's that ever-present temptation to seek a "magic pill" that will make us young, free and invincible again. What we never understand, as incredible and elusive as it may seem, is that those things are always within our reach. All we need to do is change our perspective on things and take action--do the things we want to do in life while we have the opportunity. Be grateful for and take full advantage of the resources and abilities we have. That's what really leads to happiness, in my opinion.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Internetwriter62: Thanks a lot! I congratulate you on taking steps to expand your horizons. It's awesome that you traveled to Chile. It's OK that you can't do it as often as you like; keep your hopes up and I know future opportunities will present themselves to you. What matters is you did it once (more than many can say), and you've grown because of it :)

      It's also cool that you tried playing the guitar, and it's great to hear you say it was "worth the journey." I think many people, myself included, get frustrated when learning musical instruments--we can't produce the beautiful sounds that others can at first, and it can be painful. But it's one of those things, I feel, that changes you for the better, even if you "try" and ultimately decide you don't want to keep playing. It takes discipline, patience, and an appreciation for your own creativity--three important aspects of an open mind!

    • BumptiousQ profile image

      BumptiousQ 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Right on. Great topic, excellent points.

      The 'Fountain of Youth' isn't found in a cosmetic bottle, the latest 'magic' pill or under a plastic surgeon's knife, it's found in an open mind.

    • Internetwriter62 profile image

      Internetwriter62 7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thanks Benny for a fascinating look into life and how to live it more fully. That is true, the barriers we face are often self imposed. I wish I could travel more, but I went to Chile last year and experiencing a new country and culture was an awesome experience, I wish I could do it more often. I also tried playing guitar when I was younger and even though I wasn't very good the experience was worth the journey. Excellent writing, rated it up.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks a lot, raisingme! Your comment is very encouraging. Yes, I'm certainly game : )

      I hope to inspire others to adopt the same attitude.

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      This is an EXCELLENT Hub! Well written and the pictures are spot on. Sounds like you are more than game for a little paradigm shifting.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks a lot jambo87. Will fix that error; I completely overlooked that. Glad you liked the advice : )

    • profile image

      jambo87 7 years ago

      "What did you mean when you said there's more people than I indicated?"


      Just add three more zeros

      Great article, I especially liked your advice "toward yourself"

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 8 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks Lisa. Yes, the world would certainly be a better place : )

    • lisabeaman profile image

      lisabeaman 8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Very well done! I think you made some excellent points. We could all stand to be a little more open minded!

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 8 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks man! I agree, it's surprising how much we're all the same, despite how diverse the world is. I've gotten into some fascinating conversations with people whom I'd never think I have stuff in common with or could relate to. That makes me a believer in open-mindedness.

      One question...What did you mean when you said there's more people than I indicated? Did I leave out something?

      More blogs are on the way! Appreciate it.

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 8 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      I like it! I know, it sounds trite, but I do. I did think there were a few more people than you indicated, but that's okay. With an open mind, you often realize the world is a lot smaller than you think. Looking forward to more blogs.


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