Open-Mindedness

Being open-minded is important to more than just your quest for knowledge, but also for your general quest for complete fulfillment. You can be happy with your family, job, and hobbies, but how can you experience the full range life has to offer you unless you have an open mind to accept those opportunities? It also is important to other Universal Values such as Humanity, Justice, and Temperance. If you goal is to be filled with love, open-mindedness will help you accept those that are different from you or seem strange. If you are open minded to new ideas, you will be a better citizen as this will help you be better informed on topics that you might be voting on, and you will be more open to changing your mind. Open-mindedness will also help you accept apologies and be more forgiving.

Yet open-mindedness fills a vital roll in the quest for wisdom, because it is only by being willing to accept ideas that are difficult and also being willing to change your mind that you can be open to finding the truth. Truth tends to exist outside of ourselves, never caring what we want to believe in; unless you have the open-mindedness to see outside of what you like to believe, you will not be open to the actual truth or new ideas.

Being open-minded is a journey, and it will likely be something you will be working on all your life. You can, however, make great strides in this virtue if you truly want it to be a part of your life. Ask yourself these questions: "what's more important to me, the truth or the status quo?" "When was the last time I changed my mind?" Many people prefer the security of the status quo to discovering the world around them. Others still believe that they hold great wisdom all to themselves and are rarely, if ever wrong about anything. If you only stick to the status quo, you will never reach fulfillment, and if you never change your mind then your stubbornness will haunt your relationships and your employment.

Note: I am not advocating changing religious ideas or particular political ideas, I am just suggesting that you are open to learning from all sorts of people—and open to interacting with them.

Nobody's perfect—especially in this category, so no matter where you stand you can benefit from exercising this virtue. Here are some activities that might help.

Activities

  • Read Texts from Dissenters: What I mean by dissenters is anyone who disagrees with one of your strong viewpoints. The idea is that if you feel strongly about a topic, you might believe that someone who won't be swayed to your side is a "dissenter" from the truth. The idea of this activity isn't necessarily to change your viewpoint, but to have better empathy for people who disagree with you and help you see them as human beings who are also searching for truth. Besides, if you know the opposing viewpoint, you will be a better missionary for your ideas anyway!
  • Listen During Arguments: If you ever find yourself in a debate or argument, try to make the habit of listening to what the other person is saying. In these situations, we tend to listen to the other side with the only purpose of coming up with a counter argument to whatever he or she said. Try to listen to their viewpoint and logic, and try to develop empathy for how they feel or what they are going through. If you are having an argument with a loved one, taking the time to care about their viewpoint will help heal wounds, even if both sides don't come to an agreement.
  • View Art from Other Culture Groups: They might not be big successes, but everyone wants to express what their culture-group's lifestyle is all about. You will find movies, books, short stories, poetry, and many other outlets that people use to share their experiences with others. Watching movies made from other countries or social groups might help you develop better empathy and open-mindedness toward these groups.
  • Get your News from a Variety of Sources: Many areas have a newspaper or channel that is suited toward a particular brand of beliefs. If you find yourself getting your news from one source, try to find some other viewpoints to get the news from as well.
  • Work on Love or Temperance: If you are having trouble with Open-mindedness, working on these two other virtues will help you be more receptive to developing an open mind.

Your Record

Anytime you shut out another voice without very good reason should be considered a "fault" in your journal. Any time you judge someone by their appearance, political allegiance, or cultural background is also a fault. Everyone deserves to be judged for who they are, and by people who have some empathy for them—no matter the country, economic background, religion, or politics. When focusing on this virtue, choose one of the activities as a goal. Every day you fail to act on your goal is also a fault.

Opinions

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Where there is an open mind there will always be a frontier.

Charles F. Kettering

An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it.

Anonymous

Golden Mean

Narrow-mindedness
Open-mindedness
Conformity

Recommended Reading

The Do It Yourself Lobotomy: Open Your Mind to Greater Creative Thinking — by Tom Monahan

Although some people think the author is a little full of himself, he has many great ideas and wrote this book as a guide to open-mindedness with business success in mind.

Open Heart, Clear Mind — by Thubten Chodron

Although this is about Buddhist teachings (and hence might not appeal to all people), the topic of being open-minded to new ideas comes up often in this work. And you're supposed to be reading other viewpoints anyway.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.



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Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Jalal ad-Din Rumi
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