“Keep an open mind. You hear about this frequently. You are told to have it, or acquire it, or maintain it. Some people even think they possess one. Do they? Do you? How can you tell when you are open to new ideas or when you shut down?
Do you jump or rush to conclusions? Do you believe there is a right answer to the problem? Do you believe there is only one correct solution to any given situation? Are things cut and dried, black or white, right or wrong? Do you grab onto the first thing that you hear about, or that enters your mind, and establish it as a fact?
Symptoms Of A Closed Mind
When you have a closed mind it is easy to pass judgement. You tend to lock onto things and argue your points or refuse to let go and see that other possibilities exist. Everyone else is wrong! You know it and you can tell. There ought to be a law for goodness sakes!
My definition is simply: Contempt for a new idea prior to examination is a sign of a closed mind.
Many people dismiss out of hand an idea without exploring the merits of the idea simply because it does not fit their existing gestalt or mindset. To quickly refuse to even examine another point of view is a sign that the door to the mind is definitely shut.
What To Do About It
Explore! I always say exploration is the doorway to adventure. Be willing to journey elsewhere in your mind to discover what is possible. You can do this without even leaving where you are at. Simply decide to explore an idea or a concept, and research it. Read about it, examine it while keeping as open minded as possible.
When the tendency to shut down arises, you stop it. When you begin to think this is BS stop it! Hold it in check. Determine to see it all the way through prior to labeling it as bunk. It requires discipline, especially if you are quick to make judgements, but hang in there.
Sometime you habitually shut down so fast it is instantaneous. When you become aware that you are being closed minded and that you have already shut the door, open it back up. It may be difficult but do it anyway. The more you open it back up the better you get.
Awareness is the goal. You want to be able to recognize when you shut down, or are about to shut down so you can do something about it. Be grateful when you become aware that you are closed minded because that is when you can begin to change it.
Ask questions. Become curious
Examine your own judgements and try to determine from where they arise. Do you base your opinions on something you saw or heard, are these from your past? Did you learn them from someone? Who else specifically that you know thinks or believes as you do? Who is it that believes these particular idea to be true?
Ask Yourself Directed Questions™
Direct your mind to positive things you can think about. Wonder in your mind how it might be better. Look for how you might enjoy the different possibilities. Ask questions that lead you into the behaviors you want to acquire or do more reliably.
How delighted will I be to discover I am able to entertain new ideas, that I otherwise might have resisted? In how many different ways am I easily and naturally able to stay open and enjoy new ideas? How soon can will I begin to enjoy the benefits of keeping an open mind and entertaining new view points? How much fun can I have in exploring new ideas and topics?
Challenge Your Own Thoughts
You can boot strap it and challenge your own thoughts. You can ask questions such as Who specifically says this is true? What makes it true? How is that possible? How might it be otherwise?
Who holds other contrary views? What realistic reasons may they have for holding their point of view? What might I be missing? Do I know everything about everything? Who died and left me god?
In other words, be willing to look for and find other authorities who may have very valid reasons for holding these new ideas. By the way, the ideas may be ancient they may only be new to you. OR they may be brand new ideas. Challenge your own infallibility. This is important.
None Of Us Enjoy Being Wrong
We seek to be consistent in our beliefs. We do not like it when ideology conflicts. So we dismiss it before given it the time it is due. You need to ask yourself whether you view point is accurate 100% of the time.
You can ask, ‘Always? In every single circumstance? Is it true for everyone, everywhere in the world through all time?’ OR ‘Never? Has there never been a single example of it being otherwise? Nobody in the entire world for all time never ever felt differently?’
You might ask, What causes you to think this way? What examples, evidence or experiences do you have for maintaining this point of view? Are their reasons from your past why it is important for you to maintain this position?
What would happen, or be the worst that would happen if you didn’t think this? What would happen if you held the other person’s point of view? How would you, or the world change if you didn’t believe this? Is it possible there are other points of view?
Apply The 100% Test
If something isn’t true 100% of the time why limit yourself? If you don’t have a monopoly on the truth why act as if you do? Let some of these things go. Learn something new. If you aren’t god why act like it? Broaden your horizons. Educate yourself in new ways of thinking and being. Examine things from different perspectives or points of view.
If it isn’t true for all time and all people in all places there are things to learn. Learn about different cultures and practices in different places and times. Expose yourself to new thought and new ways to think and be. Reflect on how it is possible for people to believe and think different things.
Listen to listen. Listen to undertand. Listen to Learn. Listen without speaking or challenging or arguing. Listen for no reason at all except to better understand and appreciate the speaker and her point of view. Too many of us are only waiting our turn while listening. We are waiting to speak and make our points rather than to reflect on and understand his points.
Ask questions to understand not to counter argue. Ask for clarification. State back in their words what you understand the person to have said and listen to the other person clarify it for you. Determine if you understood what they meant.
Hear it. Pay attention. Seek understanding. This means you are active in the process. You are accepting and open and available and interested in their point of view.
Sometimes when listening this way and they are finished do nothing but accept it. Don’t provide your views. Sit with it. Let them be heard. Appreciate the other person and their point of view without making your points. Silence at times is golden. At other times share and contribute.
Mediation is great for helping to keep an open mind. Especially beneficial are those forms of mediation where you watch thoughts come and go without attaching to any of them. When you are able to be quiet and simply witness thoughts arising you can become free of them. You can become open to many new awarenesses.
The Benefits Of An Open Mind
When you are able to view many options simultaneously without closing down an entire new world of possibilities opens up to you. The world becomes more alive and so do you. Everything is more colorful and flavorful.
You have more choices. There are more options. You discover there is more to enjoy than you previously allowed.
You can begin to think outside the box. You become free. You are freed of the weight of thinking you know all the answers. Nothing keeps people back as much as not considering alternatives. When the mind snaps shut you close off to opportunities and advantages that may be beneficial to you. Literally, you are not able to see them.
You explore new territory and venture further than you could before. You not only think outside the box but you can move beyond old boundaries. Instead of stopping yourself where you used to you now give yourself permission to go further. The further you go the more you are able to see.
You open up to more fun because you are willing to entertain new ideas and try new things. You can play more, experiment and enjoy discovering. Life does become an adventure when you are willing to explore. You may even try new foods, clothes and places to go. Who knows?
When your mind is flexible you are better equipped to examine options and find solutions to problems. After all, there are many ways to bake a cake, cook an egg, make a bed. There are many roads to Rome. Lot’s of ways to dive into a pool…
You don’t get stuck trying the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result. Your thinking expands and your world expands. More flexibility means more options. More options means more solutions. More solutions means greater possibilities!
Change happens. You change! When you are open, exploring and having fun you can change your thoughts to serve you better. Your thoughts and beliefs must change first if you want to change your behaviors and keep the changes. You can think better, feel better and learn to develop positive new habits.
As you change you become filled with more positive energy. You become more alive. More affirming. You become more tolerant and accepting. You include more into your world. We become freer and lighter and have more physical energy when we are not resisting and trying to maintain everything. Your thoughts are positive so is your energy.
You are less negative, more tolerant, having more fun and more fun loving. You can enjoy better health, better relationships with family and friends and associates. You can devote more time to that which is truly important. There is far less to argue about and divide you from others. You may become more loving and have a greater ability to be loved because you let go and accept others for who they are.
When we let go of how others and the world is wrong; when we drop intolerance for positions other than are own; when we are able to embrace new ideas and people and include more in are life incredible things happen. We find more friends and fellowship.
When we get entrenched and spend out energy defending our positions we are wasting energy. It isn’t worth it. Instead, we conserve and direct our energy, we focus it in beneficial ways.
We can all point to someone we think is closed minded. Don’t be just like that person! Be open. Accept and embrace that person and allow that person to be who s/he is.
If that person never comes around to your way of thinking so what? What is the worst that can happen? Can you love and accept that person anyways? Go on give it a try! And while you are at it love, accept and embrace yourself!” Rex Sikes
Imagine how wonderful today can be!
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