How to become more open-minded

How to become more open-minded
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What is openness?

The universe is full of enriching and wonderful experiences just waiting to teach us new things about ourselves and open us to the changes that come with growth. However, trying new things and embracing the unknown can be difficult. Fortunately, open-mindedness is a skill. You can cultivate it to increase your interest in new experiences, ideas, and challenges.

Open-mindedness is a state of receptivity typically characterized by an interest in exploring and considering a variety of ideas and perspectives. It is usually viewed as a positive trait. Open-minded people are often curious, inquisitive, and thoughtful. They don’t just wait for a response in conversation, they actively listen to what is being said. This tends to result in less anxiety or anger in the face of intellectual challenges. Open-minded people also focus less on competing for the right answer and more on finding the right answer, because knowledge is valuable. Open-mindedness means giving up some control and demonstrating a willingness to collaborate with others or follow someone else’s lead.

The benefits of open-minded thinking

  • Strong relationships and communication skills: Others often feel heard and respected by open-minded people and are more comfortable communicating with them. Open-minded people tend to be empathetic and humble, and are less likely than narrow-minded people to react with anger when their ideas are challenged or proven wrong.
  • Creative solutions and favorable results: Because they are open to the ideas and collaboration of others, open-minded people reap the benefits of problem-solving and achieve results they might not have thought of themselves.
  • High growth potential: Few things encourage growth like listening to others and engaging in new experiences, which open-minded people are very likely to do.
  • Build knowledge and thought processes: Open-minded people build solid information bases and develop thought processes that involve synthesizing and analyzing multiple perspectives and approaches.
  • Optimism: The more open-minded you are, the more you can consider that there could be multiple possibilities for an outcome, or even the future in general. Open-minded people are less likely to fixate on a specific, often negative, possibility.

How to practice being open-minded

  • Ask questions (to yourself and others). Perhaps you feel confident in your own knowledge and skills. Try to make it a habit to ask a question or two, even if you think you already know the answer(s). This will help you expand your knowledge and capture details you might otherwise miss.
  • Break. If your response is challenging or contradictory, take a moment. Examine the feeling a little deeper. Do you really know what you’re talking about? Are you just trying to be right for his own sake? You can be absolutely right, and some situations call for a challenge or argument. However, make sure you don’t counter just out of habit or out of competition.
  • Keep in mind that each one is a work in progress. You can be very knowledgeable about a given topic, but there is always more for you to learn, ask and understand. No one is beyond error or growth.
  • Think about and/or research beliefs that you don’t hold. Try to find an aspect of the argument that you can relate to or understand. You don’t have to change your mind, but if you try to understand how others arrived at their different beliefs, you’ll be better able to converse about those differences. It can also help you develop a greater appreciation and understanding of others, even when you disagree with them. Additionally, it helps interrupt confirmation bias, a phenomenon in which we seek information, people, and perspectives that confirm our beliefs while avoiding sources that disagree.
  • Participate in a mindfulness practice. Building a mindfulness practice strengthens your ability to recognize your thoughts and emotions as separate from your core being and thus respond to them in alignment with your values, rather than being in a constant state of reactivity. Some examples of mindful activities include thoughtful movement, journaling, meditation, and art projects.
  • Learn to accept ambiguity. Not having a clear answer can be uncomfortable, confusing, and sometimes even scary. But learning to accept, and maybe even enjoy, gray areas increases your openness to new information, perspectives, and ways of thinking.
  • Try something outside of your comfort zone. New experiences are immensely enriching and informative. They can be challenging, sometimes in every way, but they encourage us to be more open to the unknown.
  • Remember that building a new skill takes time and effort. Be patient and understanding with yourself during the mounting pains of moving toward open-mindedness.

Cultivate your open-minded thinking

Open-mindedness has the potential to benefit your relationships, your thought processes, your well-being, and your overall quality of life. With a little effort and intention, you can always strengthen your tendency to be open-minded.

As you cultivate the ability to be open-minded, you will likely also see increases in your curiosity, humility, collaborative communication skills, empathy, and optimism. If we agree that the world would benefit from more people with these qualities, then this is one way to contribute to a better future.

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