Having an open mind means considering all new ideas, opinions, and possibilities — even the ones that may be undesired or unfavourable. The highest form of open-mindedness means being completely detached from any beliefs or desired outcomes, and it’s the state we want to be in if we want to grow ourselves as much and as quickly as possible.
Open-mindedness, however, isn’t always so easy to consciously activate and maintain all day, every day. From the day that we’re born, we start learning about the world and how to be human as our minds take in information from the people who raise us and the environments we grow up in.
Out deepest beliefs, developed mostly throughout childhood, are completely subconscious. People who might call themselves open-minded are often in fact completely unaware of the deeper subconscious beliefs they still cling to no matter what.
Here are a few habits you can start, guaranteed to improve your level of open-mindedness if you stick with it.
Meditation allows us to observe the thoughts that are constantly flowing through our minds from a mindful distance. When you become aware of your thoughts, you also become aware that those thoughts are not necessarily true in absolute reality. This opens the gates to greater open-mindedness.
If you only do one thing to become more open-minded, let it be meditation. For 20 minutes at same time every day, sit in silence (or with calm background noises like traffic or birds) and bring your awareness to the present moment so you can calmly observe what’s happening without judging it.
Practice Switching Perspectives
Highly emotional intelligent people who are great at empathizing and communicating with others are usually very open-minded because they’re able to step outside of their own little worlds into the perspective of another. They can put aside all of their wants, needs, beliefs, fears, and other components of their own self-agendas so that they can see a situation from a completely different point of view.
When someone annoys you, intimidates you, or otherwise makes you feel some sort of negative emotion, notice what’s happening to you on an emotional level and get curious about it. Getting curious will encourage you to look at the situation differently by seeing it from that other person’s perspective.
Notice How You Judge Others
We all automatically judge others, even if we don’t want to. Our judgments are based on our own self-image and how we think other people should be in ways that serve us most. They’re essentially a reflection of what we think about ourselves.
Don’t resist judging others. When you do pass judgment on someone — maybe about their appearance, their behavior, their actions, their values, or something else — just simply notice that you passed judgment so that you can ask yourself why. What beliefs do these judgments correspond to?
Question Your Morals and Beliefs
True open-mindedness in its highest form is not for the faint of heart. It requires a willingness to detach from your deepest beliefs and no longer see yourself as a separate and centrally important “self” in the way that most of us do in our own little personal, ego-driven worlds.
It’s not bad to have morals or beliefs, and you can still have them as an open-minded person, but the key is to remain detached from them. Question the morals and beliefs you have about yourself and the world — even the good ones — so that you can determine whether they line up with your core values or whether they were planted there by someone else.
Open-minded people have morals and beliefs that serve them personally, but they know that they’re not necessarily true, untrue, good, or bad. They know that morals and beliefs are creations of the mind, which vary from culture to culture, region to region, and person to person.