The Importance of Open-Mindedness

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

My best friend and I often discuss a lot of things that are outside of our expertise or knowledge. We know we are young and ignorant. We also know we are trying to figure out stuff. That’s why it feels refreshing to share your thoughts to someone that can listen, even though you are not certain to be right.

We also disagree. For a lot of things. At first it was quite annoying, because we both subcounsciously try get our approval. Which is fine. It feels good to be surrounded by people agreeing with you or holding similar views. It gives you validation of your way of thinking. Even though, many times there is no clear distinction between right and wrong, other people’s approval increases your ability to see yourself as reliable and confident.

I thought about the disagreements with my friend in another way. Many times I refused to actually listen to his opposing views. In reality I just listened to respond with a better argument. I never thought through what he had to say. I’d feel better if I came up with a stronger argument while pushing him to agree with me. That isn’t a good approach to sustain any relationship in your life.

Our communication plays an important role in every relationship we have. It’s probably the best representation of who we are, our character, intentions, values, feelings, etc. So if it has such an enormous impact on us, perhaps it’s wise to attempt to do our best job we can to develop it further. And while it takes a lot of effort to change ourselves and truly listen, our life might become a more interesting journey of exploration.

My friend is a reliable source of opposing views. Even though his claims, including mine, are not fully true. But it’s not really that much about being right or wrong. If it sparks any new thoughts in you, it might be worth listening. If you truly listen, you become open for a new type of discussion — a discussion where people engage to explore thoughts they would never think of.

When you listen and observe from a higher, unbiased perspective, you’ll see how different and interesting thoughts can be compared to the dull, unchanged views you often hold. To be frank with you, sometimes it makes me think how ignorant I was to not explore that part of the argument. And that’s where change starts. For the better.

Adopting an open-minded approach to life will give you a real taste of a risky but daring adventure.

We all know more opportunities are arising if you adopt an open mindset. But let’s think about how we get to this point. And how going through your thoughts and asking yourself questions enriches our perspectives.

— Where do our thoughts originate from? How do we know that a thought is truly ours? If I hear the same thought coming from another person, does that mean it’s nothing new? —

I’ve always wondered if my thoughts and beliefs about anything are truly mine. I’ve tried to deeply explore my thoughts and come up with something no one would’ve ever heard or thought before. It was a fun activity, but with the help of the internet soon, you see that even your deepest and strangest thoughts are shared by someone else. And that’s okay, I guess.

Initially, I thought it killed my creativity. “If someone has already thought of this, then how can I be unique” — I thought. Thinking about it now, I can’t find any legitimate reason on why I took into account this thing at such a scale. It doesn’t make sense to compare yourself with others to such an extent because you will always find a better individual with more “original thoughts”.

What I found important is how I reached that stage of creating new thoughts. In this process, I incorporate my own interpretation of the world within my own environment with my own experiences, thoughts, feelings and values. And this is the interesting part. Even though that might be generalized for any group of people, but it will never be exactly the same.

I firmly believe this process is truly unique for every human being. And that’s what matters.

The best form of self-expression is to dive into your deepest thoughts and explore your being with a sense of curiosity, empathy and courage. Then you can understand yourself better and give a sense of the process of coming up with new thoughts. And that’s when you become truly open to understand and listen. Listen to what other people have to say with a genuine interest but also an opportunity to learn something new about yourself.

The journey of becoming open-minded is quite hard, especially if you are accustomed to live and perceive through the prism of chaos. I’ll give you an example.

I tend to attract spontaneity around me. Often, when I wake up, I don’t really have a specific plan on what to do. I know for sure there is studying to be done, a bit of exercise, cook & eat and of course work, which is fixed.

But I almost never put all those activities in some order. I’ve rarely created fixed timeframes where I focus on studying for two hours. I was subtly running away from anything that was fixed.

Simply because I didn’t want to be constrained. I felt like I would kill any opportunity for anything fun or exciting to happen. But to be honest, these thoughts made me quite chaotic. This chaos made me hard to focus on the moment, thus not taking what I needed to do seriously.

Now too much chaos doesn’t seem to work in the pursuit of being open-minded. But too much order also doesn’t work.

To tackle lack of structure I decided that every day before I go to bed I will write a detailed plan on what I need to do and when. In this way I was able to structure my mind to be goal-driven so that when I wake up I immediately thought of the obligations I needed to fulfill.

Now here’s the catch. I often got disappointed if I left unfinished some tasks. I’ve already built expectations to get all the tasks done in one day. However, that wasn’t possible, because it’s easier to write down that you’ll need to work on an assignment from 10:30 until 11:30 than to actually finish it or get somewhere during that time. The benefits were that I had everything I needed to finish at hand. The disadvantages are that you often get disappointed and unmotivated if you don’t finish them.

As I was trying to try a new technique and be open-minded I ended up hating to plan out everything, because at some point it became extremely boring to do that every day. You might think — “I have a plan for the day and I am excited to wake up and do what I have to do”. But you also might think — “Oh God, I am so bored with having those tasks left unfinished, and now I need to work on them again and again, it’s just so boring”.

How do you find the balance then? Well, what works for me is the following:

  1. I make a plan because I know that there are some things that I need to work consistently on such as assignments or work.
  2. I include reading, working out, walking or any other hobbies to balance it out.
  3. I always leave space for exploration, meaning that I plan my mornings, but further in the day, nothing is fixed. I have more freedom to do what I feel like doing instead of dwelling on the tasks that are still left unfinished.
  4. I try to not build expectations and I always think that the plan might not work the way I had it mind. So as long as I spend time on doing the things I need to do and work on assignments step by step, I feel content and more motivated to advance.

Now before getting to that point, I had many struggles.

First I thought that my life would be so boring if I make such a plan. Then I got lost in a chaos and ended laying in bed until late, without having an structure that would keep me motivated to study for example.

After that I started writing a plan every day before I went to bed. However, whenever I didn’t finish a task at time, I got disappointed because I’ve built expectations in my mind. So I decided to drop it and leave the basic things which I thought would be beneficial to do every morning.

Every morning, I woke up at a certain time, then I worked out, drank water, studied for one hour and then left the day with no plan. This seemed to work for quite some time, but I still wasn’t as productive with assignments as I needed to be.

In the final iterative process, I decided to write a plan every day before I went to bed without expectations for the next day. I also worked on everything I needed to do for certain time, but sometimes, I just prioritized tasks over other tasks, because I just felt like I needed more time to focus on them. As as long as I spent time on each task, everything was fine.

Looking back I realize how I created a balance around my routine. I had my fair share of tasks that had to be finished, but I also left space for exploration and creativity. I became more structured while keeping my freedom and flexibility at hand.

And that’s how I also think of open-mindedness. I don’t agree with every statement, while dismissing my views or beliefs. But I am open to listen and dissect what the person thinks.

Then I can understand why that person thinks in such a way, while getting to know him better. If I am able to know him better, I get to compare aspects of my personality with his/hers and I get to understand new things about me. Things I never thought of. Things that only people who observe me can notice.

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Thank you for reading!

Stay open-minded and explore your uniqueness!

22 | Creative Business Student | Aspiring Storyteller