“People are very open-minded about new things–as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.”engineer/inventor–Charles Kettering
Part of the problem of living in Nebraska is that when you chat one to one with many of us, we seem to be caring and open to new experiences. All that goes out the window on Election Day. The voters consistently vote for tradition-minded candidates. Our leaders are textbook examples of the Charles Kettering quote.
Being open-minded is a quandary for humans. It’s a way of thinking that relies on investigation and analytical thought, but we still desire to cling to our comforting beliefs. Many of us confuse having a growth mindset with having flexible attitudes. Those of us who do not conform to traditional philosophical or social norms believe we’re always open-minded.
The trouble with believing one has an open mind versus actually having an open mind is the subjective nature of our mental experience. A person who believes she has an open-mind may be dismissive of people who seem not to have open minds. This is a seductive trap for people who believe in social hierarchies. When this happens it is easy for smugness to occur. If one is not mindful, people who claim to be open-minded can become as sanctimonious as people they condemn. If one is actually open-minded, all options and modes of thinking are on the table. Everything has its day in the court of careful analysis.
When aiming to maintain healthy open-mindedness it’s important to remember we don’t know everything. This is balanced with having a clear image of our personalities. This is a way to avoid acquiring a know-it-all type of personality. It’s good to remind ourselves that true, accomplished polymaths are social rarities. Ironically, authentic Renaissance women and men have learned to let go of the idea that they know everything. They keep their minds open to alternate points of view and techniques of thinking and doing.
If a person can avoid the pitfalls associated with stubbornness, the older we get, we become more aware of how little we know. That is, the more honest we are, the fewer concepts we are certain of being infallible. It is healthy to let go of the strong, “unshakable” opinions and beliefs we harbor about major and minor issues. It’s good to examine why we are attached to our opinions and beliefs. Do they actually hurt or help others and ourselves? This type of analysis reveals how open-minded we are or are not.
“There are a number of traits that combine to create entrepreneurial potential. We find that openness coordinates very well with successful entrepreneurs. The more open-minded you are, the more you see the world as it actually is. The more closed-minded, the more you see the world as you want it to be.”–founder and CEO of “TheFunded” and The “Founder Institute”, Adeo Ressi
Regardless of whether or not one wishes to be an entrepreneur, it might be helpful to examine Adeo Ressi’s attitude. Open-minded thinking allows us to experience the world closer to the way it actually is. This allows us to better prepare to take on obstacles and problems as they occur. This makes one less prone to wishful thinking and inertia. Another way of looking at it, is that open-mindedness is one of the keys to creativity.
Basically, I posit that an important part of living a happy life is to embrace one’s humility and to listen to other people when they discover something. It is a good idea to periodically examine whether we claim to be open-minded or if we actually are open-minded. Of course, this is only my point of view.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actor, dancer, model, singer, songwriter, and member of “The Backstreet Boys”, A. J. McLean. “Be very, very patient and very open-minded, and listen to what people have to say.”