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On this page I blog about whatever is on my mind, I share my thoughts on all kinds of topics which fascinate me. Including fitness , personal development, philosophy, psychology and Neuroscience and all other weird and wonderful things.

  • Hardeep Singh

#8 - Open Your Mind

According to dictionary the definition of being open-minded is

“willing to consider ideas and opinions that are new or different to your own”

Open-mindedness is receptiveness to new ideas. In today’s world lot of people are very closed minded as they are living in their own little world. Some people are aware of crisis going on around them in the world. Having an open mind is a great way to be able to relate to other people the views and knowledge of others. Open mindedness helps to incorporate the beliefs that others should be free to express their views and that the value of others’ knowledge should be recognized.”

The default mode of thinking = Closed-mindedness

There is a reason which explains why only a very small percentage of the human population is open-minded. The reason is biologically we are wired to,

“Focus On Maximizing Output and Minimizing Input “

Thinking takes up energy. The human mind does not like confusion or ambiguity. This is why default mode of thinking is closed-mindedness. According to science study, about 20% of the calories we consume are utilized by the brain. The human mind is consistently trying its best to be energy-efficient. It doesn’t like to expend energy thinking and analyzing things on a constant basis. The default mode is to save energy. Therefore, rejecting any new idea that doesn’t match its pre-existing ideas enables the mind to avoid thinking and analyzing, a process requiring a considerable expenditure of mental energy. You may have noticed that having a debate or discussions often create thinking disagreement and raise many questions. Most of the question are often left unanswered. Why?

Because closed minded people do not want to hear the other side of the story as it challenges their beliefs, requires energy.

The human mind can’t stand leaving things unexplained or unanswered as it creates uncertainty and instability. So, it comes up with theories to explain the unexplained and therefore remains stable. All the theory is a story we tell ourselves about the uncertainty. There’s nothing wrong with coming up with theories, stories or explanations. The problem arises when you become rigidly attached to them in a way that blinds us to other possibilities. This is our way to protect ourselves from unknown.

To make the idea relatable I am going to share a small story. I and my friend both sat out Cisco Exam at the university. Near the end of the exam, the Moodle program crashed and caused some of the student to lose their work. As you may have guessed me and my friend lost most of our work. We were given extra 10 mins to make up for it. The 10 mins seemed hardly fair. As we left the exam room, there was a lot of uncertainty about the outcome. We both feared that may not get 1st class marks. My friends become angry, anxious the more he entertained the thought of failing the exam. But I on the other side kept entertaining other possibilities such as going to senior lecture and asking a resist.

In the end, we both passed the exam but my friend suffered a lot for 2 weeks till he got the results as he refused to be open to other possibilities.

Why must we break away from the default mode?

Most people hate confusion and see curiosity as a freaking burden. Yet confusion and curiosity have been the driving force behind every single remarkable human progress. All great thinkers supported following your curiosity and finding the answer to the object which caused confusion.  As a matter of fact, Albert Einstein who has been regarded as one the greatest scientist said this

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. “

Albert Einstein

The human mind s

eks information which validates the information it already has. This is known as confirmation bias. This is one the BIGGEST obstacle to developing open-mindedness and intelligence. The Human brain is constantly bombarded with information and it does 3 things with that information:

  • Delete

  • Distort

  • Generalise

Your mind filters information so that you will reject things that don’t match our pre-existing beliefs in this book and in life. This is why you MUST become open minded. A quick example to help illustrate the point, If I believe my country is the best, then I’ll tell you only the good things that my country has done and forget about its failures and misadventures. Similarly, if you hate someone you’ll remember all the bad things they’ve done to you and forget the incidences where they may have actually treated you very nicely. According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable by introducing such ambiguity. Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency.

The point is that we all perceive reality according to our own beliefs and being open-minded is all about being aware of this fact and not falling into this default-way-of-thinking trap. The default is close-mindedness which it’s a fruitful way of thinking.

Open-mindedness is simply the ability to receive new information, especially when it tends to contradict the pre-existing information in the mind. In Simple words, open-mindedness is not being rigidly attached to one’s own ideas, opinions and beliefs and considering the possibility that these ideas may be wrong. An open-minded person, therefore, is also humble. Open-mindedness is the willingness to acknowledge the fact that we can’t be really sure about anything unless we have sufficient evidence. If you are sure, future evidence may show up any time that destroys our current truth. This is due to technology advancement and new scientific studies. Technology advance is only to increase so I strongly recommended that you become more open-minded to new information, ideas and possibilities.

By being open-minded I don’t mean that you’ll blindly accept whatever information you receive but rather filter it, not with the filters of personal bias, but with the filter of logic and reason. It takes time and effort to develop the faculty of critical thinking and reasoning.

Why be open-minded?

I believe Open-mindedness is one of the most important personality traits that one must seek to acquire. This single trait allows you learn, experience more in life as it helps to open more possibilities.

A closed-minded person can never be truly free, as he/she dwells in the prison of his own ideas. A close-minded person can never stretch his thinking into the vast expanse of imagination and myriad possibilities.

Call to Action I have an exercise for you. Examine your most dearly held beliefs, try to trace their origins and figure out the reasons that you use to justify them.  As you are examining your beliefs, I want you to try to figure out whether or not you’re continually reinforcing them and ignoring everything that goes against them. Below is some question which I want you to answer for this exercise …

  • What kind of people do you hang out with?

  • What kind of books do you read?

  • What kind of movies do you watch?

  • What songs do you hear?

The answer to the above questions is a reflection of your beliefs. If you’re consuming the same type of media, again and again, you’re unconsciously trying to reinforce your beliefs. If you have good reason to believe in your beliefs, that’s all well and good. But if you don’t have any logic or reasonable reason for your beliefs, it is time to reconsider or even change them. I want to encourage you to Try interacting with people who have a totally different world view than yours. Try reading books that challenge the way you normally think. Try watching thought-provoking movies and documentaries.

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