The world’s population could easily be divided in two: on one side, those who have a very narrow view of the world and themselves. On the other, people whose minds are open to new things, experiences, and ideas.
Let’s focus on the second group.
Throughout my life, I have always thought I was an open-minded person. But there were times when I was shocked at how biased and stereotypical my views were.
So, I wanted to learn how to be more open-minded. It has lots of benefits: from learning more things easily to being respected by other people for your innovative mind.
Without further ado, let’s discover what are the 9 habits of people who are truly open-minded.
1) They have a positive mindset
Narrow-minded people tend only to see the negativity around them. And in fact, a negativity bias is a real thing. Our brains are hardwired to help us survive, so focusing on the negative can actually save our lives… In the right circumstances, of course.
But instead of beating yourself up when you find a negative thought crossing your mind (that wouldn’t help), you can try reformulating these thoughts into something more positive or neutral.
This will help you consider other possible options on how to act or react to a certain situation.
Here are some examples:
- Instead of focusing on the bad aspects of rain, you can think about the good this does to plants and rivers. I have a small vegetable garden, and I am very grateful when it rains, so I don’t have to water my plants that day!
- When you’re frustrated and feel overwhelmed by work, focus on the things you can afford or plan for because you have your own money. For me, it’s swimming lessons and yoga. I also love planning my vacations and weekend trips.
Don’t get me wrong. You shouldn’t lie to yourself if something is not working for you or, even worse, is harmful to you.
But almost every situation (that is not dangerous for you) has a good side. Perhaps you hate spending too much time on public transport, but you get to listen to great music on the way, or the driver is a very kind person you can have a small chat with.
Everything looks and feels a bit better when you find good sides to it. And this is what being an open-minded person is.
2) They’re not rushing things
There are a lot of people I disagree with. There are politicians I don’t like. There are colleagues who annoy me. And in the past, I was very open about it.
Over time, I learned that being so critical with expressing my opinion (which was often negative) pushed people away from me. Because they felt like I could be negative and hostile against them too. And I won’t keep quiet about that.
So I changed my strategy and started giving things and opinions time to formulate and take a certain shape.
If you’re always trying to prove how someone else is wrong, you’ll never have time to question yourself. Meeting and dealing with people who have different beliefs is just a part of life. They don’t have to stop you from believing what you believe is true, and at the same time, you don’t have to share your opinions with everyone all the time.
You see what I mean?
Being open-minded is also about knowing what battles are worth fighting for. Do you really want to argue with your 80-year-old grandma about women’s rights in the middle of a Christmas dinner?
I know I don’t!
As a benefit, hearing someone else’s opinions can help us question our own beliefs, which is what open-minded people do!
3) They expand their horizons
In order to become more open-minded, you have to be willing to deal with the “otherness” that comes with it.
These are some examples of things you can do to broaden your horizons and learn to deal with the differences:
- Read a book from an author you don’t know, or try a different genre. I love epic fantasy sagas, but I switch to other genres occasionally, and I really enjoy it.
- Watch a TV show you wouldn’t normally watch. Same thing: I love watching comedies, but from time to time, it’s good to switch to a drama or a murder mystery.
- Talk to people who are not your friends or family. Of course, proceed with caution with this one. But make an effort to go to places and meet new people.
The comfort zone has that name for a reason, but it also keeps us repeating our lives like robots. It’s good to stretch our limits and see what we find. The results can be incredible.
This is what open-minded people try to do most of the time. They expand their worldview and see everything as an opportunity to learn or experiment with something new.
4) They nurture their problem-solving skills
People with an open-minded attitude are great at solving problems. Why?
They don’t stick to the rules all the time. Besides that, they know that there’s always more than one way to solve a problem. And they’re open to the suggestions of others, even if they think they know better.
Because you never know!
Of course, they don’t do illegal things, but they can think outside the box. They’re not trying to follow their preconceived idea of a solution.
They consult friends or experts to have many different points of view, and they ask people to see what they have to say about it. This is why their solutions are often so creative and original.
Another important part of this mindset is that they don’t think they’re the best when it comes to resolving an issue. They try to work and collaborate with others as a team, evaluating all the factors that influence the problem.
This is a great habit to develop and will certainly help your personal and professional life.
5) They promote diversity
Let’s focus on friendships. Especially if you’re over 25!
Meeting up and going out gets increasingly difficult. Believe me, I spent two good hours this morning trying to plan a meeting with two friends who live nearby… and I’m going to meet only one of them. There was no way to coordinate our calendars for this week!
The result? It gets harder to make new friends. Most of all, your mind will try to stop you from going out of its comfort zone because it’s not something critical (as the mind thinks).
But it is!
You have to grow and develop as a person, and meeting new people will definitely help you with that. It’ll also bring you new information that you can later share and discuss with your old friends.
Open-minded people aren’t afraid of diversity, and all their friend groups might be entirely different from each other.
The key is to not take things too seriously –especially ourselves– and to really pursue the folks you want to be friends with. New people can become really close allies, and you can learn a lot from them.
6) They’re living their lives to the fullest
Trying new things can be scary. As I said before, the comfort zone has that name for a reason.
Open-minded people prioritize going out and living new experiences because they trust themselves to handle everything that comes at them.
These new experiences can be as big as trying skydiving or as little as watching a movie alone. You don’t have to do something radical in order to build this habit into your life.
Here are some tips on how to try out new stuff:
- Accept invitations or assist with different kinds of events, not only bars or house parties. If you only say yes to the things you know, your mind won’t expand, and you most probably won’t learn many new things.
- If you want to say no to something, ask yourself, “Why do I want to refuse?” first. Are you scared of something you don’t know? Are you too tired after a busy week? This doesn’t mean you have to say yes all the time (like in the “Yes Man” movie), but you must find ways to fight these feelings and live trying new things.
- Start with the easiest challenges! For me, it’s going out to eat on my own or going to watch a movie in the cinema with a discussion group.
7) They let people show their true colors
First impressions can be deceiving, so giving people a second chance and letting them show their character is super important. Open-minded people understand this, and they don’t put a lot of weight on that first impression.
Not everyone will feel confident or be in a good mood the first time you meet them! So, it’s better not to judge people at first sight.
To avoid doing that, open-minded folks do the following:
- They give people time and space to be authentic and relax around them;
- They have patience and don’t rush to make conclusions about others;
- They know that every situation they face is an opportunity to learn.
If you want to be more open-minded, work hard to not let prejudice cloud your judgment.
8) They’re self-reflecting but not overthinking
When I first started the journey of becoming a more open-minded and welcoming person, I wondered why some people seemed to be so natural at it.
I asked myself: Are they just not judgemental? Do they say yes to everything? Are they naive?
With time, I realized that they know exactly who they are and what their boundaries are, and this is the result of self-reflection, not self-judgment.
This, as a consequence, brings them to the self-realizations that aren’t accessible when you’re always judging yourself instead of learning your inner wishes and limitations without criticizing yourself.
Open-minded people reflect on their behavior, meditate to find answers to the questions they have, and they enjoy the process of thinking and learning about their own inner world.
You can start this by asking yourself some of these questions:
- What are your core beliefs?
- Why do you have certain habits?
- What are the things you still don’t feel like you understand about yourself?
As time goes by, the answers will get more and more specific. And your horizon will be broader and broader.
9) They’re taking time to reflect on their beliefs
Ordinary people don’t take time to reflect on their beliefs much. I mean, we rarely have time to sit and think about what our opinion is about something. More often than not, we’ll find ourselves easily distracted by quick dopamine, such as watching reels or TikTok.
But finding time to be alone and relax helps our minds cultivate creativity, bringing our imaginations to the front.
Sometimes we get the best solutions to our problems while taking a hot shower and not being distracted. At least I do!
The power of our subconscious cannot be overstated.
If you can find ten minutes daily to meditate, whether in silence or through guided meditation, you’ll notice the difference it makes.
It’s important to take time to reflect on what you think about important matters, as later on, you’ll use this for decision-making!
Top 3 questions about open-mindedness
How do I know I’m an open-minded person?
If being open-minded doesn’t come easily to you, remember that you can always build good habits to become more open to new things. No matter your age or where you are.
- Feel for other people or consider yourself an empath;
- Don’t get defensive when someone offers a different solution than yours;
- Don’t get upset over small differences or challenges;
- Ready to listen to other people’s opinions without judgment;
- Enjoy learning new things.
Then, congratulations! You’re naturally open-minded. Now you need to cultivate this mindset and enjoy the benefits of this state.
How do you measure the level of my open-mindedness?
There isn’t a universal right way to measure this characteristic because we’re all different.
However, you can take a few online tests, like the Big Five personality test, or see where you fall into the “actively open-minded” thinking scale.
I have to say, though, it mostly comes down to the people you surround yourself with and your attitude. The more open you are to new things and opinions–the more open-minded you are!
How can I help others to become more open-minded?
Firstly, don’t tell someone that they’re narrow-minded. Be respectful and welcoming, and you won’t have to deal with someone offended or defensive.
Secondly, the most important thing is to ask questions and then reflect on the answer the other person gives you. If appropriate, give your opinion on the matter you’re discussing.
This can encourage them to question their beliefs!
Try to show them that they can learn something valuable from others and that being wrong doesn’t equal being bad.
We all can be wrong, and it’s great if there’s someone who’s kind enough to tell us how to improve!
What are the advantages of being open-minded?
The mental and emotional benefits are endless, but let me give you some examples:
- Knowing more about differences in culture and lifestyle around the world;
- Feeling empathy for people you have nothing in common with;
- Being able to make better decisions;
- Being more self-confident around new people and experiences;
- Having more mental strength and a healthier mind;
- Being honest about what you feel and why with yourself and others.
To sum up
It’s possible to learn how to be more open-minded, although it can initially feel like a challenge. Your mind only wants to protect you and keep you safe in what you know.
Sometimes what we learn defies beliefs we’ve had our entire lives, but it’s not necessarily bad. It just means you’ll need some time to adapt to this new scenario.
Over time, this constant learning process will become easier and more enjoyable for you.