Let me guess. You’re totally okay with changing your socks every day, but when it comes to changing your mind, it’s an uphill battle from the start? You’re not alone, but wanting to be more broad or open-minded already sets you up for positive change. And just like your socks, a freshly washed mindset helps you put your best foot forward in just about every situation!
If you think you’re right in every situation, and that your habits, worldviews and routines have no room for improvement, you can stop reading. You are the opposite of being ready for open-mindedness. If however, you want to try to experience new things, stretch your mind and shoot for a change of attitude, we’ve got some tips to help you out. For further reading and other distinct ways to broaden your thinking check out The Good Men Project and Mind Café articles linked here too.
Always Be Open to Learning
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein
We live in an opinion-charged environment with a lot of conflicting viewpoints thrown at us constantly. It’s a human habit to search out evidence that supports our already held beliefs. What takes effort and practice is to challenge our own beliefs, do a little research, and decide if there is a reason to adjust our opinion based on new information. The desire to be well-informed is critical to being able to have educated thoughts in widely ranging areas from politics to fitness.
How many times have you found yourself in a social media “conversation” with someone who has a differing opinion than yours? How often have you taken the time to look up information that supports the other side? If nothing else, this will allow you to learn the “whys” behind their views. It may not change your argument at all, or it may soften its edges. Either way, you’ve opened your mind to a different way of thinking. Growth can start with a single seed!
This doesn’t just apply to the heavy social issues that can weigh down anyone’s mind. Being open to learning a new way to swing your golf club or twirl your paint brush can bring new levels of enjoyment to your hobbies. Taking dance lessons or joining a recreational soccer team can create new fitness goals, not to mention introduce you to new friends who can share their viewpoints too. Continual learning is a giant circle of enrichment!
Be Open to Leaving Your Comfort Zone/Zip Code
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
Sure, maybe you’ve got everything you need within a 30 mile radius of your home, but visiting other areas of your city, your state, this country or even another continent naturally extends your breadth of experiences which expands your way of thinking.
Motivation Excellence supports Ingage Unlimited, a non-profit organization that sends teams of volunteers to developing areas of the world to provide training in education, business, and leadership skills. No one comes back unaffected by the new people they’ve met, the work they’ve accomplished, and the obvious differences in the way of life they just experienced.
Brooke Barlow was a volunteer team member to the Dominican Republic with Ingage (see pic above). Her involvement expanded her thinking in many ways that stay with her more than two years later. “My experience with Ingage was life-changing. I got to see a whole different culture and experience it firsthand. Getting to see another culture and how they live life was eye-opening. I loved witnessing how they made the most of what they had and were always so positive.”
But, you don’t have to literally travel to expose yourself to new cultures, activities or experiences. Documentaries on TV channels like PBS or National Geographic can open your eyes to other parts of the world, long gone civilizations and recent history. Reading memoirs from the past and the present offers a way to walk in someone else’s shoes without leaving your couch.
Your comfort zone is well-worn and cozy. It’s hard to abandon it! But each time you leave, even mentally, you create a bigger comfort zone and suddenly there’s enough room to really stretch out and maybe even add a futon and some throw pillows!
Be Open to Collaborating
“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” – Frank Zappa
Broad-minded thinking is a critical skill to have not only in your personal life but also in a business environment. Employers look for open-minded new hires. Teamwork, adaptability and tolerance are hallmarks of these employees. Conversely, leaders at a company who are open-minded allow their team to flourish. You can tell within five minutes of any brainstorming session those in the room with a strict, narrow view. These are not easy people to work with or for, but as a student of open-minded thinking, they’re the perfect people to practice your new skills on. See how I turned that around into a positive? ☺
Being able to work with someone with vastly different views is challenging. It’s also a great opportunity to ask a lot of questions and hopefully be asked some in return. You know the old saying about when you “assume?” In case you don’t, let me spell it out for you. It makes an ass out of u and me. Do not assume you already know everything about a certain subject or about another person’s viewpoint. Quite frankly you don’t know either.
Acknowledging you have room to grow, and want to do so, makes you poised to take on your challenges. If someone else is willing to have an open conversation with you about their mindset and experiences, take them up on it. Sharing your experiences helps them grow too. This relates to helping a client solve a business problem as well as talking to a stranger on social media about any hot button or totally benign topic (they all seem to be controversial these days though, right?).
Be Open to Trying
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw
After reading this and the linked information, are you ready to be a broad-minded thinker? Even if you’re willing to make a few adjustments that’s awesome! As with any new habit or routine, start small and move forward at your own pace.
Being open-minded is really having the ability to change your perspective. It does not mean you have to agree with opposite opinions. It means you have the mental tools to see things from the other side, or sides.
It’s not easy, and it definitely takes practice. But just like we teach our kids to change their underwear daily, we too can teach ourselves how to change our minds with gentle reminders (maybe some exasperated pleas too). After all, our minds are even more personal than our underwear, so if we’re down with changing the latter, we can definitely be open to changing the former too.