It is easy to react and become closed these days given our differences on so many things. While it is natural to contract, we will be more resilient and thrive if we adopt an open mindset and take an open stance.
Our mindset naturally falls on a continuum between closed-minded and open-minded. Of course, we move along the continuum at different times, depending on various issues. When we become more aware, we realize where, when and with whom we typically lean toward closed or open.
The state of being open-minded requires the primary intention to be compassionately curious and respectful toward yourself, others, and the situations or environments we face. It begins with the intent to be open to discovery and learning rather than focusing primarily on safety and avoiding pain. The accepting stance creates awareness of possibilities and mobilizes energy for choices.
Open people are grounded and present to what is. They appreciate current circumstances and are optimistic about what is likely to unfold. They experience gratefulness and are often open to new ideas and inspiration. They share connections with others and can receive support as well as give support to others. An open stance involves being curious and recognizing they only see a slice of the big picture. They are open to learning more and remain confident that possibilities are emerging. They dare to be vulnerable and take risks and to admit they don’t know everything. They welcome diverse and unique perspectives and take respectful actions.
Open-mindedness incorporates what psychologist Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset—an openness to continual learning rather than having a fixed mindset and a desire to maintain current success without making changes. Another element is the ability to be present in the current state. Ellen Langer, a psychologist, has conducted many studies and demonstrated that the simple process of noticing new things enables us to be present, to experience the world with excitement, and to see new opportunities. Often, we are closed, and ironically, we are not there to notice we are not there. When we are open-minded, we seek new ideas and perspectives.