The wonderful thing about human beings is that we are all unique. We all have a different story to tell and are capable of being a part of others’ stories. Sometimes, though, we can become so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we forget that those worlds exist for other people as well.
Being open-minded to new opportunities lets us remember that those other stories exist and allows them to influence our own. When you are open-minded to new opportunities, you reap the benefits of millions of unique worlds to improve your worldview. To do that, though, you need to understand what open-mindedness is and how it can benefit you and everyone around you.
Being open-minded means that you are in the mental space to receive, accept, and integrate new information into your worldview, even if it directly contradicts what you currently believe. You form your opinions based on evidence and experience rather than on first impressions.
That isn’t to say that being open-minded is always easy. It can mean learning unpleasant things about yourself–you might find biases you didn’t know were there or discover that you have been treating people unfairly and have been in the wrong. Open-mindedness comes with the understanding that we are all human, and we all make mistakes. It means giving ourselves the grace to do that.
How to Encourage Open-Mindedness
According to the Harvard Business Review, being open-minded, also referred to as having “intellectual humility,” comes in four main parts.
- First, you have to respect the viewpoints of other people.
- Second, you have to understand that you will be wrong and that that is okay.
- Third, you can’t base your self-worth on your intelligence.
- Fourth and finally, you need to be willing to change the things that you are wrong about.
Once you have those four steps down, you can apply them to any situation to develop your open-minded approach to the world and start experiencing the benefits. You will have to constantly work to keep your mind open, but it will be well worth the effort in the end.
1. Being Open-Minded Reduces Stress
One of the vital parts of being open-minded is having a willingness to let other people take the lead. This means that you’re not always going to be the one in control of a project or situation and that others will have the freedom to add to and change it.
Research into the effects of mindfulness, including keeping an open mind to the experiences of others, can help us find closure without being closed off to the idea of learning more. It helps us adjust more readily to social environments and gives us the ability to withstand stress from those environments.
This can be incredibly freeing. It can lift the weight of responsibility from your shoulders and give you the space you need to relax. Being willing to let yourself play a supporting role means that you don’t have to bear your burdens alone.
2. Being Open-Minded Lets You Control How You Learn
There’s a lot of information out there in the world, especially with the advent of the internet. It can be challenging to sort through. Because we’re constantly getting new information from a wide variety of sources, we can become overwhelmed. This might mean we resort to only looking at information from sources that already align with how we think.
This is a set of cognitive biases known as selective exposure and polarization. According to the University of Pennsylvania, these biases lead to a skewed understanding of the world and a tendency to make errors in how we judge others.
When you are open-minded to the ideas of others, you can take the time you need to look for truth in conflicting opinions rather than just assuming that they are wrong or unnecessary. This gives you more control over what you learn and where you are going to learn it.
3. Being Open-Minded Makes You Smarter
Studies have shown that continuing to learn throughout our entire lives can help with memory and cognitive function as we grow older. It makes us more fulfilled overall and keeps us happier because it keeps our minds engaged and stimulated.
Because being open-minded gives you control over what you learn and how you learn it, you end up being able to learn much more than you otherwise would. This keeps you learning over your entire life, which keeps your brain healthy and active.
4. Being Open-Minded Brings New Insight
When you approach the world with an open mind, you might find that problems look different. There might be solutions that you would never have thought about if you relied entirely on your own beliefs and limited understanding.
Being open-minded means that not only are you willing to accept new information and incorporate it into your life, but you’re also actively seeking it out as a way of discovering new ways to look at the world.
5. Being Open-Minded Means You Learn New Things About Yourself
As I mentioned before, sometimes being open-minded can mean discovering that what you thought was the right thing to do has been hurting people. This can be jarring and uncomfortable and might sound discouraging. No one likes to hear that they have been the causes of another person’s suffering.
Sometimes, the wonderful thing is that being open-minded means discovering the good things about yourself that you never knew were there. You might discover that you have a gift for empathy. You might find out that you’re an excellent leader or a fair negotiator. Being open-minded means being able to accept and acknowledge the good things about yourself.
6. Being Open-Minded Means You Learn New Things About Others
In the same way that you’re learning about yourself and your biases, being open-minded means that you’re constantly willing to get to know others. Not only that, you’re willing to get to know them for who they are, rather than what you assume they are. This lets you experience others’ authentic selves and lets you share your authentic self with them.
This is a sure-fire way to win you more friends. When people feel that their opinions are being respected, they are more likely to offer companionship, advice, and even new opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have offered.
7. Being Open-Minded Helps You Judge Less and Do More
Sometimes we stop ourselves from participating in new opportunities because we’re afraid of how others will perceive us. We judge our enjoyment and benefit by what we see rather than what’s actually being done.
When you’re open-minded to new things that conflict with your current life, you open the door to discovering new passions. You might learn a new skill, pick up a hobby you hadn’t considered, meet people you wouldn’t usually talk to, or find that you enjoy something you thought would be terrible. Being open-minded lets you stop judging your involvement on the assumed perceptions of others.
8. Being Open-Minded Helps Resolve Conflict
Because you’re willing to listen to all sides of the story without judgment, conflicts are easier to deal with when you’re open-minded to new opportunities. You’ll be more ready and able to empathize with both parties, which means you’ll be able to look for what they want out of the situation rather than just seeing anger and frustration.
When you know what people want, you’re more likely to find a solution that ensures everyone is satisfied. This means conflicts go from being relationship-ending and stress-inducing to civil and level-headed. Being open-minded means that everyone feels seen, heard, and understood and can leave the situation happier.
9. Being Open-Minded Lets You Lead With Confidence
Being open-minded in a leadership position is essential. It means that you’re willing to listen to your team when they have feedback about your performance and adjust accordingly to improve everyone’s performance. It also means that you accept and try out unconventional, novel, and creative approaches to everyday problems to find the best solution possible.
This kind of freedom of development lets you have confidence. Because you’re open to new ideas and opportunities to grow and improve, you know that you are doing the best that you can at that moment and that whatever happens is the best possible outcome you could have had. This assurance that you’re doing your best work gives you confidence in your leadership.
10. Being Open-Minded Makes Change Easier
Acceptance of change is another essential part of open-mindedness to new opportunities. Learning and growing means that your worldview, your situation, and you are constantly changing.
While being open-minded can be difficult and can mean constantly re-evaluating how we interact with the world, it makes that world easier to bear when it is no longer what we expect it to be. It keeps us from upholding the first impressions we have that might never have been accurate in the first place.
To be open-minded, you have to acknowledge that this change is happening. You have to accept that things can’t be how they were and be open to the idea that whatever lies ahead will be better than what you left behind. This can make changes of all kinds, from everyday habits to significant life events, much easier to roll with.
11. Being Open-Minded Means You Handle Rejection Better
In the same way that being open-minded means change gets easier, it also means that rejection gets easier. When we are set in our ways, being rejected can feel extremely weighty. We might see the rejection as our fault and go over everything we think that we did wrong. We might even start to blame others because we disagree with their reasoning for rejecting us.
When you are open-minded to new opportunities, you’re looking at both the good and the bad and accepting that both are possible. This way, if this opportunity turns out as a dead-end or a bad fit, you’re able to see it as a clearing of the right path rather than a step onto the wrong one.
Open-minded approaches to new opportunities let them be just that–opportunities. They become chances to learn, whether or not they become a regular part of your life. You learn that rejection is going to happen sometimes, and that is just another part of life.
12. Being Open-Minded Lets You Plan Ahead
When you’re able to look at a situation, see all the decisions you could make, and base them on all of the knowledge available to you, you’re able to make a choice more clearly and effectively. After all, if you’re making an informed decision for everyone’s benefit, you can’t really make a wrong choice. It just becomes a solution that either works or one that eliminates a way that doesn’t work. If one solution fails, you are willing to try again with new information.
Knowing this, you can plan for your choices to work and for them not to work, letting you know what to do at the next step no matter what happens. This enables you to plan for multiple outcomes rather than just relying on what will happen if things go well. It keeps you from stalling out when plans don’t occur in precisely the way you expect them to.
Everyone Benefits from Being Open-Minded
There are more than just twelve benefits of being open-minded to new opportunities. For every person that is open-minded about a situation, there will be a new benefit to discover. Some things that are challenges for one person might be a benefit for another and vice versa, but because being open-minded means learning from the experiences of others, everyone involved benefits.
Taking the time to see others’ perspectives, giving them the respect they deserve, and incorporating their perspective into your own means that two people’s lives improve from one decision. When we respect each other as people, we are allowed to grow together.