Photo courtesy of Hobvias Sudoneighm
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” - Oscar Wilde
It’s true that most of us have been raised with a certain set of morals and beliefs about life that can sometimes make it difficult to entertain or accept ideas that differ from ours. Much of our childhoods were spent surrounded by people with very similar belief systems and ways of living.
Even as adults, we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals because it’s much easier to enjoy life without daily conflict.
It’s okay to have your own opinions regarding important life issues. I definitely have some strong opinions concerning matters close to my heart. However, if you asked the people who’ve known me longest, you’d find that my attitude has shifted away from the need for absolute truths. At some point I realized that I can live a much richer and fuller life by being open-minded.
How far open should your mind be?
Personal choice will dictate how receptive to new ideas and differing opinions you are able and willing to be. Your innate personality and the open-mindedness of your closest family members will play a part as well. Even if you have to go it alone, opening your mind’s door and allowing yourself to be receptive to new information and ideas can be quite rewarding and beneficial.
Approaching life with an open mind can lead to positive things like:
- Increased knowledge and understanding of concepts that had previously eluded you due to your lack of exposure or willingness to except new ideas.
- New friendships – If you were raised to eliminate entire groups of people from your friendship pool because of their differences, imagine the potential relationships you are missing out on!
- Pleasurable experiences you might have otherwise missed, including personal experiences and professional opportunities alike.
- Creating the life you’ve always wanted by taking a different path - Remember - there is always more than one way to get where you are going.
- Personal growth - Letting go of some previous beliefs or letting in new information may lead you to make some changes that you never even realized you needed.
- More interesting conversations - Earn a reputation for your open mind and more people will get a lot more pleasure out of holding conversations with you.
- Empathy - It’s hard to have empathy for people when your mind is closed off to them.
- Better relationships - Open-minded people are not easily angered by opposing views, and this leads to healthier interactions.
- A more secure sense of self - Are your viewpoints really your own or are they ideas that have been passed down to you from your parents and grandparents? Taking a step back to analyze your beliefs before calling them your own will give you more confidence in your own points of view.
- Being less judgmental - Someone who is open-minded would never make a judgment before hearing both sides of an argument.
- Improved listening skills – Taking in all information before formulating an opinion means you’ll be engaging your analytical thinking skills on a more regular basis.
- Getting more enjoyment out of wherever life brings - Life has so many wonderful opportunities; those who can let go a little bit and see where life takes them will end up happier and more fulfilled.
- Lower stress levels - It’s significantly less stressful to be open-minded and relaxed about opposing views than it is to be closed-minded and argumentative.
- Physical health improvements – By not allowing a difference of opinion to provoke you, things like your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen will stay within desirable ranges.
Having your own beliefs and opinions is an important indicator of who you are as a person, but so is how amenable you are to new ideas when they’re presented to you. The best way to formulate a set of beliefs that you can call your own is to be willing to listen and think analytically about all the facts that come your way. Also, staying receptive even after you’ve formulated your opinions shows respect to others who have contradicting viewpoints.