Life isn’t black and white, but you can’t call it colorful either. It is actually what you make of it. Therefore, how you look at it matters a lot. There are many of us who blame life, complaining it to be of a certain way. Some express sorrow over the high value bestowed on money in the society while there are others who feel sad as they believe that the world is governed by luck. In short, we all have our fixed views about how life is and depending upon how strong these views are, we could be indifferent or even hostile to someone who speaks anything contrary to our opinion.
Our views are not our own
Our views simply show how we look at things and not how things actually are. They could at the best reflect our surroundings i.e. the type of people we are associated with, or the type of experiences that we’ve had throughout our lives. For example, someone who always comments upon distrustfulness of people is most probably someone who put a lot of trust in someone, but got betrayed or maybe felt betrayed. On the other hand, people who believe too much in the power of money might be the ones surrounded by money-minded people. In fact, every fixed mindset has a similar story behind it. It is because all of us are born with an open mindset, fixed mindsets are what the experiences of our lives make us develop.
Kids have an open mindset that’s why they learn so easily
You can’t speak in any other language as fluently as you might in your mother tongue. It isn’t just because it’s the first language you learn, it also has a lot to do with the time when you learn it i.e. your childhood. If we were to find a symbol for an open mindset, it would definitely be very young children. They have such a broad imagination that you can make them believe anything you like. However, depending upon how they grow, these same children might later turn into hard-headed adults.
Closed mindsets result from repetition and monotony
Although a single traumatic event could shape the entire life of a person, generally it is repetition and monotony that breed closed mindsets. When we stay too long in an environment where we are supposed to have only particular beliefs, it makes us develop closed mindsets. Such mindsets are to be blamed for all the massacres committed in the name of religion and nation. People with closed mindsets might, in fact, work pretty well when in the company of other people with similar mindsets. However, once they are exposed to a variety of beliefs, the problems inherent to their narrow perception start manifesting themselves.
5 – Problems with people having closed mindsets
You simply cannot explain an alternative approach to someone with a closed mindset. To protect their point of view, they would argue endlessly and might even become aggressive. Most of the time, the opinion they are holding is quite illogical to begin with, but still, they might even become violent in order to defend their beliefs.
2. Cannot bear disagreement
People with a closed mindset, when they face disagreement too many times, do not tend to alter their beliefs. Rather than that, they tend to cocoon themselves in their houses or in their little friend circles where they can sit comfortably and blame the world around them to be too harsh or stupid.
Imagination has no bounds. Having a closed mindset not only kills your imagination, but it also restricts your ability to perceive the imagination of others. Nazis burned to books of Einstein. Galileo’s books were banned by the church. Socrates was sentenced to death for his beliefs. History is a witness to how closed mindsets and imagination don’t go together.
Curiosity stems from one’s belief that he or she doesn’t know something. With respect to this, however, the people with a closed mindset are quite hard-headed. They would talk confidently about things about which they don’t have the remotest idea. It is a known fact that people with little knowledge tend to be the more confident ones. No one displays this fact better than the people with closed mindsets.
5. Might fall into bad Company
The worst part of having a closed mindset is that you attract others with a similar mindset. In the age of the internet and social media, this has become exceptionally easy. Hateful communities on the Internet like ‘Incel’ show how easy it is to make a group of people having a fixed outlook of life because of common insecurities.
Why individuals with an open mindset grow more easily?
1. Take failure as a lesson
Everyone experiences failures every once in a while. When compared to people with a closed mindset, the ones with an open mindset find it easier to digest them. For them, failure doesn’t mean defeat. They know that life is much more complex than the simple good and evil or effort and results. Rather than blaming other people or their circumstances, they try to find out the actual reason that led to their failure. Irrespective of the fact whether they find out the reason or not, they learn immensely from their failures.
2. Believe in change
There’s only one thing constant in life, and that’s change. Having the same opinions throughout one’s life is proof that one hasn’t learned anything. When you know that you can also be wrong, you don’t hold on to your opinions too steadily. You just go with the flow, which is the truest joy of the being. The open-minded people, even when they become old never seem old as they tactfully adapt themselves to their present circumstances.
3. Ready to go off the beaten path
It’s the early bird that catches the first worm. Had it not been for open-minded people we would have never experienced anything but the conventional. While they do respect the conventions, but for them, it is just one way of doing things. If that way isn’t the simplest or the most feasible, they are not satisfied with it and keep looking until they find something better.
4. Learn effortlessly
One important part of learning is acknowledging the existence of something outside your existing range of ideas. With an open mind, this comes instinctively to you. When you have it, you know that the world is full of contradictions and therefore you are capable of believing two contradictory ideas at once. For you, learning something new isn’t just easy, it is extremely exciting as well.
5. Don’t give up easily
When you go by a fixed rule, after a certain point you simply leave the task at hand saying that it is doomed to fail. However, when you have an open mind, you don’t reach that point easily. Either you already have many alternative approaches to solve the problem or you try your best to find any new alternative approaches. No matter how dreadful the situation might look, you refuse to give up until you have tried everything that’s on your mind.
How to develop an open mindset
1. Do something new every week
It could just mean something as small as listening to a new music genre, but make sure that you do something new every week. Not only that, but you should also keep a diary and make a note of what is it that you did. If you don’t have many ideas about what you can do, try the net to find interesting new things happening around you. It could be anything ranging from a language crash course or a music festival to some random session of yoga or meditation. There’s no limit to new things you can do.
2. Always say ‘yes’ to challenges
Life throws challenges at everyone, but most of us simply let them go. A challenge doesn’t necessarily mean something like a challenge for a bike race or to climb a mountain. The everyday challenges that we get are much different. Even reading a difficult book or filling a new role at the office could be a challenge. Recognize these challenges and say yes to them. In the beginning, you might not come across many challenges, but once people see that you are someone who likes taking challenges, they would make sure that you get as many of them as you want.
3. Watch your thoughts
To find out what your mindset is, introspection is necessary. You need to find out what you believe. There are two ways of doing this. First (and the preferable one) is by practicing mindful meditation. Second is by practicing stream of consciousness writing (which is basically writing down your thoughts). Both of these help you judge your thoughts from an objective point of view. With their help, you can recognize recurring thought patterns and find out what traces of a closed mindset are troubling you.
4. Ask for opinion but don’t seek approval
There’s a very subtle difference between asking opinions and seeking approvals. The first shows open-mindedness whereas the second shows doubt in one’s own capabilities. So, while you should listen to what others are saying, never bow down to someone’s assertiveness. If your own opinion seems more logical, you should go forward with it. On the other hand, if someone suggests something that seems like an improvement over your own point of view, don’t just ignore it. It’s always best to move together. But first of all, you should make sure that you are moving forward and not backward.
5. Don’t judge anyone or anything too quickly
Many times, our judgment just shows a bias that we have built over our lifetime. It’s good to be judgmental every once in a while, as that saves you from trouble. However, if being judgmental is preventing you from having valuable experiences in life, then you should relax it a bit. The best thing to do is to be patient. Observe the person or the thing in front of you and think carefully before passing judgement. Remember, looks can be deceptive sometimes, and by judging too quickly, you are exposing yourself to the danger of judging a book by its cover.
6. Travel extensively
There’s a famous quote by Saint Augustine ‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.’ So, to have an open mindset, not only you should travel, but you should also change the way you travel. You should prefer public transportation to taxis and dine in local restaurants and not in luxury hotels. In short, try to get closer to the people of the place that you are traveling to. In them, you would definitely find a mindset totally different than yours. Simply being with them would be good enough to broaden your mind as it would help you cultivate qualities such as acceptance and a sense of wonder, which are indispensable for an open mind.
7. Have free time
Lastly, if possible, try opting for a job where the working hours are not too much. Free time is the time that you can spend the way you like. It can play a vital role in escaping the monotony that breeds a closed mindset. Nevertheless, when you have a lot of free time on your hands, make sure you do not waste it browsing on your phone. Plan out everything in advance about how you would spend your free time and make sure you include something new every week.
An open mindset is essential for growth
When we are talking about growth, we don’t just mean an outward growth, as when it comes to having more money and power, even people with a closed mindset can achieve that. You don’t really have to be open-minded for that. However, when it is about your true growth i.e. your inner growth, an open mind is the first and foremost necessity. There’s no substitute to it. It is only way of coming even close to understanding the multidimensional reality that we live in.