“Different strokes for different folks!” The advantages of having an open mind

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MindWhat does having an open mind mean? I am sure we have all contemplated this at some point – what do I open myself up to, what shouldn't I? … especially in today's globalized world.

Being open minded simply means not living inside a box – this box being our minds, very much known for holding many folks hostage.

If you can't entertain different thoughts, listen to a different perspective, try different things, and be respectful and appreciative of those who are different, then you just might be closed minded.

A closed mind typically refuses to budge and is resistant to ideas that are different from its experiences and core beliefs.

Being open minded does not mean compromising our values; it simply means being flexible in our approach, while being capable of discarding that which it does not faundamentally agree with; it means being able to respect the opinions of those who have different beliefs, lifestyles and cultures, and not being dismissive of them.

Open mindedness generally leads to growth in the areas of our lives that need to grow, while informing and educating us about others. Information and knowledge acquired is never wasted … in fact knowledge to me is like the sunlight of the plant of life – with it we blossom, without it, we shrivel.

The catch is, we must be able to receive all kinds of information, discard that which we determine to be not so useful, while assimilating that which adds value to our lives… this is critical to success and growth.

You don't like it, agree with it, can't do it, doesn't make sense to you? That's OK, but understand that different people think along different lines … not because they are less smart, unsuccessful, or something's wrong with them; it just means they are programmed differently and reason differently as illustrated in these 4 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 the editorial manager. This article entitled The Growth of Islam in U.S. Prisons is about a Muslim Imam's thoughts on the advantages of Islam and why a good number of prisoners find peace in it. Naturally, I was torn about publishing this article, because as a Christian, I do not naturally think any other religions is better than mine. And I began to wonder if by okaying the publishing of this article in our magazine, I was in someway helping promote Islam over Christianity. I struggled with that, and I called up my managing editor Innocent to discuss my feelings. We talked about this at length and he reminded me that DUNIA is all about cultures, races … and obviously different religions. The good news is, we went ahead and posted it. I must admit, I was able to learn a lot about Islam and the muslim mindset from this article and it has helped add to my knowledge bank tremendously. I am able to carry on a reasonable conversation with muslims without asking "stupid" questions. Understanding where others are coming from and why helps open up our world, don't you think?

Understanding why different people act the way they do, helps you get along with them and improves your leadership skills.

In order for change to happen, we must be open to new ideas, new strategies and develop new skills. 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. Don't get closed in by your mind. It's natural to be curious. Why hold back? Try new things, learn new things and enjoy life!

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