The Power of an Open Mind in a Close-Minded Culture
An open mind opens up your life to incredible possibilities...
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...
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.
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.
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.
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: bigfoto.com
- 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?