By: Mike Cribbin
If you have definite ideas about how things are or how they should be, you’ve probably had someone tell you to “keep an open mind.” Having an open mind is important to succeed in life.
Embracing, or at least considering, new ideas and technologies is vital to our personal growth.
Are you willing to consider someone else’s opinion? Can you look at facts that may seem suspect and analyze them without bias? If you’re open-minded, you can be flexible when met with new ideas. It means you can adapt to new experiences.
Being able to think critically is a vital component of being open-minded. In our quickly changing technological world, it’s important to keep an open mind in order to keep up and stay current, rather than missing out on all the new things around us.
It’s also important to be willing to change your views when you’re given new facts. This could prove crucial depending on your chosen profession. For example, as a police officer or lawyer, being willing to see things from a different perspective could help you achieve greater successes.
Here are some ways to learn how to be open-minded to new ideas:
- Decide now that you don’t have to be right all the time.While it’s not unusual for some people to be obsessed with being right, it’s not something that’s looked favorably upon. No one can be right all the time, not even you!
- Try to be relaxed when discussing new ideas rather than having a knee-jerk reaction to be right.
- Recognize that there are many reasons why people have certain beliefs. They may be from a different country or have different life experiences that have shaped those beliefs. Someone born at an earlier time would also see things differently than you.
- Learn to listen carefully. Rather than jumping in with your opinion, let the other person finish speaking. Then use active, or reflective, listening to understand and clarify their ideas:
- Repeat back to them what you understood. Respectfully ask questions when you don’t understand or agree with their standpoint.
- Look at things from a different perspective. Before deciding that a new idea doesn’t have merit, consider doing some research to understand the concept better. Consider the way the other person explained the idea and see if it makes more sense after you’ve researched it.
- “Walk a mile” in someone else’s shoes. Spend some time volunteering in your community. This will allow you to see things from a different perspective and with certain limitations.
- Take time to try something new. There’s no better way to open your mind to new ideas than to attempt a new task. Learning new skills or taking up a new hobby can open your mind in ways that nothing else will. Give it a try; you may be pleasantly surprised!
It’s true that being open-minded can be an advantage in many aspects of life, however, don’t be too quick to become open-minded about everything. There may be some deeply held beliefs that you don’t want to leave by the wayside in order to embrace openness. That’s okay!
While you’re learning to be open-minded to new ideas, remember that it’s fine and good to hold onto some beliefs and stand up for what you believe in.
Just because an idea is new to you doesn’t mean you must agree with it in order to be open-minded. Having an open mind will strengthen your skills to evaluate new ideas intelligently and choose truth in your life.