When you think about being open minded, do you picture somebody who is accepting of different opinions, beliefs, and behaviors?
If you do, you are partially right. Mental and emotional rigidity are more likely to accept and embrace differences in world views, beliefs, experiences, and culture.
However, there is another aspect to being open minded. People who are open minded, are open to new experiences, to learning new things, and to understanding differing views, not just accepting them. The result of this is that open minded individuals often enjoy lives that are much more fulfilling than those who are not open to new experiences, people, and ideas.
Unfortunately, being open minded isn’t an easy thing. After all, many of us were raised as children, and continue to live as adults among people who generally have similar belief systems and values.
We also tend to hold onto the same interests throughout our lives. Then, there’s also the fear of the unknown or the unexperienced that is part of human nature. In spite of all of this, you can become a more open minded person. If you’d like to get started, try a few of the following steps.
How to Become an Open Minded Person Even if You See Yourself as Hopelessly Dull
1. Learn to Question Yourself
The next time you find yourself saying no to a new experience, or convincing yourself that there is no way you could ever, enjoy, believe, or understand something, take a moment to ask yourself why?
What is holding you back? Is it fear or prejudice? The more you explore the reasons you tend to close yourself off, the better able you will be to resist those impulses and open your mind.
2. Set a Goal to Experience at Least One New Thing Each Month
To a large extent, becoming more open minded is an action oriented endeavor. To get the results that you want, you have to take action and do things to widen your horizons. Your first step can be selecting one new thing to experience each month. Your possibilities are nearly limitless. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few suggestions:
- Read a book or magazine that isn’t from your preferred genre
- Try a new cuisine
- Write a letter to the editor
- Visit a new neighborhood
- Spend a day volunteering with a population you are not familiar with
- Spend a day with your radio tuned to a new station
3. Examine Your Hot Button Issues From Another Perspective
Remember that opening your mind doesn’t mean changing it. It means learning to view the world from more than one point of view, and to consider multiple possibilities. Take some time to think about a few of your hot button issues. These are issues that you feel very strongly about. They might be related to politics, religion, parenting styles, or morals.
Close minded people tend to see these issues in very binary terms. People are either right or wrong in their views, and the people who are wrong are either morally or intellectually inferior to those who are right.
Unfortunately, this attitude does very little for fostering understanding. It also does little to broaden your horizons. However, if you make an effort to understand why somebody has a different view of an issue, you will often find that their views aren’t due to moral shortcomings or other character flaws. Instead, they are just a product of that person’s life experience.
4. Let Yourself be Vulnerable
There’s no way to be more open minded in your thought processes or your actions without letting yourself be vulnerable. If you try new things, reach out to new people, and attempt to embrace new ideas, you will, on occasion, fail or be disappointed.
If you accept that and allow yourself to be vulnerable, you will soon find that even when things don’t go as planned, things are still okay. Even better, you can still get something positive out of a negative experience. Remember that the failure you may experience can also be used as a launching pad for reaching your goals.
5. Widen Your Circle of Friends
This one is easier said than done, but it is so important. The wider your circle of friends, the more likely you will be exposed to different ideas and belief systems. This is key to becoming a more open minded person.
Obviously, you cannot force a friendship to happen, but you can take steps to make it more likely. For example, you can join a club, or start up a new hobby. Even something as simple as speaking to a different co-worker during your lunch break can make a difference.
6. Stop Making Assumptions
Making too many assumptions is an open mindedness killer. If you find yourself continually saying the following things:
- I would never like that.
- I just don’t relate to people who…
- That’s just not my thing.
- I would never fit in with…
- I don’t think I would be welcome…
- People who live like that are all…
First, become aware of the fact that you do it. Then, make a dedicated effort to stop yourself and then rephrase your assumption. Instead of assuming that you would never like something, restate your thought to say, you aren’t sure if you would like something but are willing to give it a try.
7. Learn to go With The Flow
Mental and emotional rigidity are two things that are sure to get in your way as you try to become more open minded. If you constantly tell yourself you shouldn’t try new things, or convince yourself that the consequences will be dire, you will continue to be closed minded. Try to relax more often and just let life happen.
Chances are, you will find that breaking or at least relaxing some of the rules and restrictions you place on your life actually leads to good things. You’ll be much happier if you adopt a live and let live attitude, not just with others, but also with yourself.