What does having an open mind mean? I am sure most of us have contemplated this question at some point in our lives. What should I open myself up to; what shouldn’t I?
Being open minded simply means not living inside a box; this box being our minds… which is known for holding many folks hostage.
If you can’t to entertain others’ thoughts that are unlike yours, or listen to a different perspective, try new things, or be respectful and appreciative of those who are dissimilar, then you may be close-minded.
A closed mind typically refuses to budge and is resistant to ideas that are not in line with its experiences and core beliefs.
Being open-minded does not mean that we should compromise on our values or beliefs. It means being flexible – we are able to respect the opinions of those who have different beliefs and lifestyles; but are also capable of not getting caught-up in that which we do not fundamentally agree with. It entails not being dismissive.
As far as success and self-improvement are concerned, open mindedness generally leads to growth in the areas that need to grow. An open mind is interested in learning and educating itself, and so, it broadens and even becomes more tolerant. New information and knowledge it acquires is never wasted as the mind soaks it in and evolves progressively. In fact, knowledge to me is like the sunlight of the plants of life… with it we blossom, without it, we shrivel.
There is a catch though: we should be able to process information wisely by discarding that which we deem to not be useful, while assimilating that which adds value to our lives. This is critical for success and growth.
The open-minded Leader
If you do not like it, agree with it, can’t do it, or it doesn’t make sense to you, that’s okay, but understand that different people think along different lines… not because they are less smart, unsuccessful, or something’s wrong with them; but because they are programmed differently and reason differently as illustrated in these simple words: “Different strokes for different folks”.
I was reminded of this a few months ago when I received an article for publishing on DUNIA Magazine, where I am an editorial director. This article entitled The Growth of Islam in U.S. Prisons highlights a Muslim Imam’s thoughts on the advantages of Islam and why a good number of prisoners find peace in the practice. Naturally, being a Christian, I was torn about publishing this article as I did not believe that any other religion “is better than mine” [*closed-mind* wink, wink]. And I began to wonder whether by okaying the publication of this article in our magazine, I was in someway helping promote Islam over Christianity. I struggled with that. So, I called up my managing editor Innocent to discuss these feelings. We talked about this at length and he reminded me that DUNIA is about all cultures, races, and obviously religions. The good news is, we went ahead and published the article. I must admit, I was able to learn a lot about Islam and the Muslim mindset from this article. It has helped add to my knowledge bank tremendously. I am able to carry on reasonable conversations with Muslims without asking “stupid” questions, you know what I mean?
Understanding where others are coming from and why, helps open up our world.
Also, having an understanding of why different people think/act the way they do, enables you to get along with them and improves your leadership skills.
In order for change to happen in our lives, we need to be open to new ideas and new strategies, so that we can develop new skills. However, like everything else in life, there are cons and pros to being open minded. Terry Pratchett once said, “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” Meanwhile Aristotle wrote , “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Having an open mind helps us appreciate the natural make-up of life and helps us enjoy the world around us without judgement or fear. Do not get closed in by your mind. Being curious is natural. Why hold back? Learn new things, try new things and enjoy life!