Every time I’ve asked someone if they are open-minded they inevitably say “yes.” This response tells me this quality is a desirable one; nobody wants to admit being close-minded. I don’t; and yet I’m willing to admit that even with this obvious recognition of appeal, I still hesitate to change my point of view; in other words, I’m know probably going to defend what I believe. I feel this observation can be quite useful. When I’ve asked someone this before new, potentially conflicting information is offered, it gently persuades by lowering the defense system of the receiver. In essence it really does open the mind.
When taken one step further, I must ask if “I” am open-minded, even if the person talking to me has no intention of asking it. This requires practice and discipline. When done properly I do my best to let go all thoughts of rebuttal. To be honest if all I do is listen, I’m fine; not easy for a guy like me. I’m an intensely emotional, idea-oriented person. When others speak it triggers a response mode in me, a fault I freely admit needs a lot of work. Some label me as opinionated because of how I react, but that seems somewhat off definition. One of my root belief systems is “I always get everything I want; all I have to do is change my mind.” Yes, I’ll stand my ground and will attempt to justify what I think works best in the moment, and I’ll suggest alternative choices; but even though I do these things, I’m still always searching for a better method.
During one of our many discussions my friend, Joe, handed me the most challenging, or perhaps “disturbing” philosophy I had heard up to that point.
He had been trying to get me to understand and embrace what he was saying when he changed tactics. “Do you think you’re open-minded?”
As he expected, this diminished my attitude of stubbornness. “Uh……yea, I guess I am.” I hesitated while Joe kept staring at me. “Okay, what’s your definition of open-minded?”
He continued to look straight at me. “IF………if you really do want to become an open-minded person, the only thing you MUST believe in is that you might be wrong about everything.”
I didn’t say anything as I felt the blood draining from my face.
On the surface the idea doesn’t really seem to inspire, does it? What if I’m wrong about everything? What if this entire blog is completely off-base? What if I have to start over? What if my entire life has been a mistake? The good news is these type of questions don’t have to be asked. The apparent overwhelming implications need not be disabling. What needs to be in place is the willingness to simply ask similar ones without using the word “I” in a sentence, that’s all. What if someone else is right? What if someone else has a better blog? What if another person knows how to start over? What if another person has all the answers? This is the true power of humility. The exercise of removing the “I” from our lives is also the same willingness that embraces a higher power. I think this revelation has massive implications to those who seek a personal understanding of God.
An “open” mind seamlessly connects us to others and creates empathy. When this thought process is projected it will eventually find itself embracing the universe without judgement. On the other hand, a “closed” mind will have the opposite effect. This thought process will isolate us, invite prejudice, and will conclude with an implosion of selfishness. I’m sure you don’t need me to point out examples, there are plenty in everyone’s life that support this line of reasoning.
I suppose the best way to live is with our arms, our eyes, our ears, and our minds wide open. Is not life about discovery? Who really wants every day to be the same? Why not explore the minds and lives of others? Why hoard old ideas and patterns? Why not clean out the rubbish that no longer serves to elevate us? Throw open the doors and windows of your mind and let the breeze of change refresh all that has become old and stale. It’s just more evidence that cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood
I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this entry!!!!! Your last paragraph could easily be something I write on a post-it note and have on the dash board in my car, on my office desk, riding around with me in my purse, etc, haha!! Your last paragraph is EXACTLY what I believe to be “true,” in my own personal experience!!!
My beliefs are quite simple: question EVERYTHING. I’m very passionate about my perspective, because…. who isn’t?? The point of life is to Love your own Perspective! However, in that same vein, MUST I BECOME INCAPACITATED BY THE SINGULARITY OF MY OWN EXPRESSION??? Hell no!!
Life is beautiful. Life is flavorful. Life is IMMENSE.
We would only learn more and understand more if we questioned everything. We don’t need to question with the intention of skepticism or cynicism….. but with the intent of child-like wonderment! How awesome is it to realize that this world may be very different than what it seems! Look at how many possibilities and potentials have been unlocked by trying to learn…. and trying to UNDERSTAND those with whom we have contact…. instead of trying to convince them that your unique experience is somehow more “right” or “better” than their unique experience.
The bottom line is that humans are obssessed with hierarchy and vertical thinking. They obsess over “rank.” It is hard for a human to understand something unless it is ranked against the comparison of something else. Humans are obsessed with the concept of “higher and lower,” “more and less,” “better and worse.” It is part of the dichotomy of how they understand the world. But in doing so, they lose the concept of horizontal thinking – appreciating that blue and green are different…. not inherently better or worse than another… just diverse and different.
Humans are also currently in a state of mass powerlessness – not understanding these Universal truths that they create their own reality, and that they have more internal power than any external power can take from them. And from this state of powerlessness, they crave significance. So, humans become incredibly attached to the concepts of vertical thinking, as well as value judgments (“right,” “wrong,” “good,” “bad”). If you aren’t better/above/right than your neighbor, then that means you are less/below/wrong. It is the nature of the dichotomy and the nature of powerlessness…………. but that doesn’t mean it is has to remain this way for the eons to follow!
Question it! Question why it is the way it is. Break the mold. Create a new mold. Then break THAT mold when the time arises again. This is evolution. This is expansion. THIS is what makes Perspective so FUN!!!! 🙂
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Totally agreed! Even the seemingly single-minded person in our work clique whom most label as stubborn, would claim to be open-minded.
I guess it does not seem like a positive trait to begin with. I too, am guilty of forming conclusions without even considering others’ attempts at persuasion at times.
Shalt try to self-reflect and try to open my mind more then. 😀
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At least our recognition of the process puts us in a place of possible correction.
Like the way you framed correction as a possibility, than a sole outcome. An exhibition of an open mind indeed. Way to go, Dan ! ☺
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