8 traits of an open-minded thinker

Years ago, I remember being excited to attend a talk by Deepak Chopra. 

The new-age, self-help icon was in Canada promoting a new book (I can’t remember the name of the book, to be honest), and since he was to speak just a town over from where I live, I felt compelled to get tickets to the event. I’d seen interviews of Chopra on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and had read a couple of his books, but I wasn’t as well-versed on him as most of the people at the talk, I’m sure. 

In the talk, Chopra spoke on the evolution of human consciousness depended on getting out of our fixed lives and being open minded so as to tap into the infinite wisdom of divine intelligence and evolve our own lives. 

He said this didn’t mean that we had to go live in a monastery in Tibet (although that’s good too), but being open-minded meant getting out of our comfort zone on a routine basis. 

He called it getting out of the “chamber.” It could be as simple as switching up your morning routine to striking up a conversation with the person you always see on your train commute, for example. 

Being open-minded is the prerequisite to living an enchanted life fueled by creativity is something I have taken to heart from the teachings of Chopra. 

Perhaps you are naturally open-minded, or maybe you want to work on being more mentally flexible. 

Here are eight traits that an open-minded person needs to have to live their own enchanted life. 

1) They place importance on every interaction 

Open-minded people usually don’t believe in hierarchical systems and rigid rules of how things “should be done.” 

They give each person they meet their full presence, says Michael Thompson from Medium

Thompson relates how a few years back, his friend Justin Caffrey who is a banker turned mindfulness coach, found himself in the same hotel lobby as former president Bill Clinton. 

According to Thompson, Caffrey had heard of Bill Clinton’s positive effect on people, so instead of running up to try and shake his hand like the other people, he decided to sit back and observe the former world leader’s actions. 

“For ten minutes, he watched in amazement as Clinton went down the line of people eager to speak with him,” says Thompson. “It didn’t matter if it was a fellow guest or a young person working in the hotel, Clinton gave each of them the same level of interest and attention.”

This is a man who could easily eschew giving his time to every single person—but he didn’t. He believes in giving his full focus to all those he comes across. 

2) They’re curious by nature 

Open-minded people make the best travelers. 

That’s because they don’t put their own expectations on people, cultures, and belief systems. 

“An open-minded person is willing to acknowledge and explore different ideas, cultures, perspectives, and different values, even if they don’t align with their beliefs,” says the team at Indeed

The open-minded traveler sees a world filled with opportunity. “They understand that they don’t have all the answers within and so they set out on the road to discover a better self,” adds the team at Authentic Traveling

This is how the open-minded person sees the profound journey of life—so they approach it with a calm curiosity and don’t believe in imposing their own agenda. 

3) They believe everyone is entitled to their opinion 

Open-minded people don’t believe it is their job to “enlighten” other people—even if they are obviously wrong about something.  

Having convictions is fabulous but strong belief does not negate an open mind, says Kendra Cherry at Very Well Mind

“Being open-minded means having the ability to consider other perspectives and trying to be empathetic to other people, even when you disagree with them,” she says. 

An open-minded person will engage in conversation, but without an agenda on changing that person’s mind. They know that it isn’t for them to change anyone else’s perspective on anything. 

4) They don’t mind being proven wrong (sometimes, they even prefer it)

smart psychological tricks to make people instantly open up to you 8 traits of an open-minded thinker

As lifelong students of the world, open-minded people are intelligent enough to acknowledge that they aren’t always right. 

They’re almost always willing to compromise and meet the other person half way. Even if they don’t agree with another person, they are still able to see where the other person is coming from. 

Why do some people seem to make consistent progress in their personal and professional lives while others keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again? asks the team at Farnham Street Media.

“Part of the answer is how they approach problems. It comes down to mindset. Over time, the person who approaches life with an openness to being wrong and a willingness to learn outperforms the person who doesn’t.”

5) They engage in empathy 

We touched on empathy above. 

Most people have a reason for believing, speaking, and acting as they do, says Eric Kim from Medium

“I don’t mean to vindicate anyone’s actions; these reasons can still be bad reasons, even plain stupid reasons (there are at least a few historical figures who have acted in inexcusable ways),” he says. 

“But there are reasons nonetheless, and being open-minded means allowing ourselves to understand that reason.”

This can mean giving someone the benefit of the doubt. It also means refraining from telling someone how wrong they are. 

Kim mentions the saying: “Being intolerant of intolerant ideas is [still] being intolerant.”

The beautiful thing about being open-minded is that it leads to a greater sense of empathy in that it allows us to understand the perspectives of other people, say the team at Follow Friday

“When we’re receptive to those viewpoints, we’re able to understand them better. This helps us connect with others on a deeper level and create a sense of unity.”

6) They possess an intellectual humility

It’s not that open-minded people are just modest by nature, but they have an intellectual humility that is commendable. 

“Intellectual humility can be considered a willingness to recognize our cognitive limitations and biases, admit when we’re wrong, and be more interested in understanding issue than being right,” 

says Alejandro Betancourt from Medium

It’s not only a recognition that our beliefs and opinions are fallible, but Betancourt says there is also an acknowledgment that we could be wrong. 

“It’s a virtue that allows us to listen to others and learn from them respectfully.”

Open-mindedness also creates a foundation for inclusion, adds the staff at Follow Friday. “When we’re able to be inclusive, we create a more just and equitable world for everyone.” 

7) They feel it’s important to be flexible

traits open minded 8 traits of an open-minded thinker

Being open-minded doesn’t have to always live just in the mind.

Years ago, I remember getting tickets to an event where a lineup of my favorite bands were going to be performing. I happened to have seen the announcement on Facebook and couldn’t believe the bands were coming to perform at a one-time show an hour away from where I lived. 

It was a table event and basically the earlier you got there, the better table you could have. This was a bucket-list kind of event for me, so of course I made sure my family and friends got there extra-early so we could sit right up front. 

We get there (I’m not embarrassed to say we were one of the first groups there), and I see a table front and center. 

I start walking up to it and my brother recommends sitting at a table on the side of the stage instead. No doubt he was thinking of being close to the bar. I thought about voicing my disagreement. 

But then he said: “See this door right by this side table? I bet the bands are going to come out of this door to walk onto the stage. You’ll get a close-view of them as they come out.”

I hesitated. He did seem to have a point. I decided to be open-minded and let things go with the flow.

No sooner had we sat down at the side table, when I saw a band member (who I had especially wanted to see) coming out to do a sound check (yes, we were that early) literally a few feet away from us!

My heart started racing but I knew I had to go over and talk to him—something out of character for me to do. He didn’t look busy and I didn’t think I’d be interrupting; he seemed to have finished sound-checking and was standing just looking around.

I looked around too and realized if I didn’t go and talk to him right then, that the venue would start filling up and I would miss my chance.

I did it. I went up and talked to him and he was very gracious (okay yeah, I have to admit he also had a nice smile).

I don’t remember what the small-talk was (he did indulge me in getting a picture) but the point of the story is that if I hadn’t been open-minded and decided to just go with it when my brother mentioned sitting at the side table, I don’t think I would have seen him. 

So be open-minded and go with the flow. Otherwise, you’ll never know what out-of-the-ordinary experiences you might miss out on because you didn’t get out of your own way. 

8) They evolve with the times 

The thing about open-minded people is they know they have to evolve and adapt to the times. 

They know that staying stagnant and stuck is a surefire way to kill their creativity. 

“As I spend time researching and developing my creativity, one of the problems that I encounter is that if we want to be creative we need to be open-minded,” says one half of the husband-and-wife professional photography team known as The Bergreens

“By the very definition of creativity, making something new and original, we need to have a mind that’s open to new ideas and new ways of thinking and seeing,” they say. 

“If we hold on tight to our outdated or incorrect beliefs, we’ll never come up with new ideas that transform the world. And sure, change isn’t always good, but growth usually is.”

Reminder: Being open-minded doesn’t mean you should open yourself up to anything you aren’t comfortable with…

No doubt it’s a wonderful thing to be open-minded, but you have to make sure you’re protecting your mind and be solid in your own belief system, says Peace Itimi from Medium

For example, not everyone gets to be part of your inner circle. There’s a line between being open-minded and opening yourself up to people who aren’t trustworthy or who don’t share your values. 

“It’s important to love your truth, but to live your truth, you have to first discover what your truth is.”

After all, even the most open-minded of people should never be above taking in an abundance of caution. 

Picture of Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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