Open your mind: Five trade-offs to become more accepting

What does being open-minded look like to you? The dictionary definition of open-mindedness is “the quality of being willing to consider ideas and opinions that are new or different to your own.” Are you willing to listen to the opinion of others even if their viewpoint isn’t the same as yours? Would you consider their thoughts, or would taking them on board be too much to ask? 

How much you listen to, accept and recognise the value in different views, ideas, and cultures are good benchmarks of how open-minded you are. Most of us like to think that we are accepting of all people and open to many new experiences, but it’s easy to get caught up in one way of thinking. 

There are a number of signs that could indicate it’s time to be more open-minded, and it’s never a bad idea to look at your habits and see where this might be. It’s not always just having friends who share similar interests or deciding to stick to the same habits. Some signs are much more subtle, but being aware of those listed below can help you broaden both your horizons and your mindset.

1.  You’re not curious and avoid asking questions…

It can be very easy to stick with what you know, rather than try to meet people who are different from you. However, actively trying to understand and embrace cultural differences can open you up to a whole world of experiences. 

…So ask questions and never stop learning

Listen and learn something from everyone you meet. Be curious, ask questions. Share your experiences and ask others about theirs. Life is best lived when you’re able to learn, listen and share, so be open to growing from your experiences and use them to become the best version of yourself. 

2.  You stick to the same group of friends…

It’s in our nature to want to be part of a clique, and most of us are guilty of naturally gravitating towards people we have a lot in common with. But if your friends, both in real life and on social media, are similar to you and therefore agree with all the things you say or believe, you’re restricting your view of the world. 

…So widen your circle of friends

Meeting new people can be daunting, particularly as we get older and lose touch with our previous friends. The wider your circle of friends, the more likely you will be introduced to different ideas and beliefs. Join a club, start a new hobby, or talk to someone at work you haven’t spoken to before. Be friendly and welcoming, and give people a chance to show you who they are before passing judgement. 

3.  You resist change

Whether you’re uncomfortable with letting a new person into your circle of friends or don’t like the idea of trying something new, it may indicate you’re not as ‘go with the flow’ as you first thought. Closed-minded people often fear change because the outcome is not certain, and what they already have is better than the unknown. 

…So embrace change (and actually go with the flow)

As scary as change may be, start by actively seeking new experiences and embrace every new opportunity that presents itself. Be spontaneous; take that last minute trip away, or ask the person you like out for dinner. You’ll be much happier if you embrace a carefree and laid-back attitude not just with others, but also with yourself.

4.  You feel uncomfortable when someone is different from you…

Pay attention not only to how you act when you meet someone different from you, but to how you feel inside and react. This reaction may not be an intentional or conscious one, but you’re stopping yourself from having potentially exciting and enriching interactions.

…So get out of your comfort zone

There’s no better way of opening your mind than stepping out of your comfort zone. Sure, it can be scary — but, it will open you up to variety and encourage you to open your mind to unfamiliar things. Take a different exercise class or try a new hobby, and see if adopting this openness leads you to somewhere new. 

5. You judge the way others live…

There are lots of ways to look at a situation. While you might think your way is the best, there are countless perspectives to be taken. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but 

disregarding anyone else’s views is ignoring a chance to learn more about society. 

…So respect others’ values and beliefs

Try looking at issues through someone else’s eyes and be curious about if this viewpoint can offer a different insight. Once you’re able to see things from another angle, you’ll become more open-minded by learning how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. To reinforce this point, consider how you feel when your views are disregarded. 

A mind once opened never loses

Although it’s easy to get caught up in your own personal experiences, taking the time to actively consider different views, beliefs and cultures will allow you to be more open-minded. By doing so you’ll not only enrich your life, but the life of others too. 

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