How to Cultivate an Open Mind

Start with an open mind

Step one in the priming stage is developing an open mind. The human brain is meant to be porous and malleable, allowing new information to enter, then shifting according to the new information. People often fight to maintain the status quo – their comfort zone – and do what they can to avoid pain or discomfort. This often results in a narrow trajectory in life and a stifled existence. It is all too easy to be trapped in flawed or limited thinking based on the conditioning we experience and are subjected to throughout our lives. A closed mind essentially runs in a loop, perpetuating a certain kind of experience for years and even decades. This loop is our brain’s basic operating system and is responsible for the behaviour we exhibit.

The difference between an individual with a closed mind versus an open mind is quite obvious. A closed-minded person rarely seeks to understand beyond what they encounter at face value. They seldom question beyond what they already believe, and argue to protect their limiting beliefs. You have probably met this kind of person at some point in your life, or you might even be this person but be unaware of it. An open mind has the capacity to receive and allow new information to pass through, to be analysed, considered, collected, integrated or, possibly, rejected.

I was guilty of being closed-minded in my earlier years. I closed my mind to advice and ideas based on my own false beliefs. I believed I wasn’t good enough for relationships, wasn’t intelligent enough to study and wasn’t valuable enough to be accepted into higher positions of responsibility. When people suggested I try a different approach, or that I attempt to achieve a specific goal, I dismissed their suggestions and fired back with a defensive remark. I would talk about how it was too hard, how I had already tried before (half-heartedly, at best), how someone should recognise the good in me and that it was unfair to have to go to any great lengths to change my situation. I closed off the possibilities and potential in my life because I wasn’t open to anything new.

This is how it can look in your own life. You encourage closed-mindedness by shutting down ideas and defending your pre-existing programming. If you have wanted to change something in your life for some time, but nothing has happened, you may be self-sabotaging by blocking new information. The martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee said, ‘Empty your cup, so that it may be filled.’ This quote expresses the importance of being able to relinquish what we think we know, in order to improve and develop further.

If you truly desire change then you must accept this step. It is vital that you are willing to forget what you think you know at this point, in order to transform your life.

Five steps to cultivating an open mind:

1. Agree with yourself to have an open mind. Rather than being forced to believe something contrary to what you already think, you must consciously choose to have an open mind to allow for the consideration of new information. It begins and ends with you, so if you do not open your thinking to be challenged, you will remain stuck.

2. Be willing to try something new. Part of being open-minded is having a willingness to try something new. The act of trying something different can encourage open-mindedness.

3. Try it more than once. When you do try something new or different, be willing to give it a second chance if the result isn’t what you first anticipated. Of course, this point isn’t to encourage reckless and fruitless repetitions of an experience or approach when it blatantly isn’t working, but sometimes the results of a certain action may vary on separate attempts.

4. Don’t always be right. This is simple! If you are always right and never wrong, you cannot receive any new information. In this scenario, you are stuck with what you know and, even worse, will fight to protect your false knowledge.

5. Understand other points of view. It is impossible to truly understand a particular person, environment, situation, experience, etc., if you are completely unwilling to understand another point of view. If you have a strong belief and are certain of the information you have, it is still necessary to understand the opposing point of view to truly establish your own understanding as fact or truth.

Final note: Cultivating an open mind is absolutely essential to the process of personal transformation. If you are not receptive to new information, you cannot absorb the information necessary to promote a positive change in your life.

A closed mind is lost until it becomes open.