Open-mindedness is a crucial quality to have in your personality if you wish to become more intelligent, conscious, and successful. But as with many other things, there’s a balance that needs to be struck.
If your mind is too open, then you risk letting everything and anything in, which can make a person into a total idiot. But if your mind is too closed, then the opposite problem happens: you assume that you know everything and become a know-it-all. Your mind becomes a closed-off stinky swamp and evolution comes to a standstill.
Therefore it’s important to learn how to keep your mind open without becoming an idiot.
We can accomplish this in a few different ways and I’ll describe them below:
1_ It’s possible
2_ Pick your battles
3_ Help me see what you see
4_ Give it over to your Subconscious Mind
These are four very powerful principles that you can immediately use to properly calibrate to the right amount of open-mindedness. With these in your arsenal, you’ll know exactly how to approach outlandish ideas and theories. You’ll know when to open yourself up to something new or simply move on to the next thing.
It will keep you flexible, creative, and intuitive as you continue to access greater levels of success in your life.
1_ It’s Possible
We start with “It’s Possible” because this is an optimal baseline for approaching any new thought, idea, or even experience in your day-to-day life. Saying it’s possible is a neutral, life-affirming attitude to something. It neither confirms nor denies.
Most importantly, when we say it’s possible we’re not closing off our mind to something; we’re just simply choosing not to devote our time to it. That's the big difference.
If someone comes up to you and says “There’s no such thing as the moon, and I have 26 reasons why this is the case!” you don't have to tell them that they're wrong - you can just say “Sure, I suppose it’s possible.” It neutralizes all conflict on the spot. It neither gains nor gives any ground away.
It’s possible doesn’t just have to be something you say, it can be an actual attitude that you hold. After all – who knows? Do you know that there’s a moon? Or is it just what is revealed to your eyes from your perspective on Earth? It’s possible that there’s no moon, but I’m happy to continue under the assumption that there is.
2_ Consciously choose where to engage.
So with the attitude of it’s possible we go about our lives choosing carefully when to engage. We don’t have the resources to engage with every single person and what they say. Not all of it is relevant to our highest purpose for that day.
Therefore having some attention on your intuitive capacity is crucial. Stay intuitive!
How to do that? Start by assuming that you do have an intuition and that it works. These statements both are true. If you encounter an idea that may help you expand your business, or do better at your work, then you may go from a passive openness to an active openness.
In active openness, we’re ready to learn. We make our minds a little more soft, as if we’re starting from the very beginning – as if we know nothing! We return, in other words, to the child’s mind.
3_ Help me see what you see
Have you ever heard of the Monty Hall Problem? It’s the statistical math riddle involving a game where a brand new car is hidden behind one of three doors. Your task is to guess, arbitrarily, which door contains the car.
There’s a twist though: Before opening the door that you randomly chose, the host of the game opens a different door, showing that there’s nothing there, and then asks you if you’d like to now stick with your original choice, or switch to the other remaining unchosen one.
... Now if you know about this riddle, then you know. (Don’t spoil it for the rest of them!) But if this is your first time encountering this problem... what do you do? Do you stick with the choice, switch to the other one, or would you say it doesn’t even matter what you do?
The answer is totally unintuitive and deeply offensive to what we think we know about statistics. Going through this for the first time, our answer is usually something like “Before, I had a 1/3 (33%) chance... but now since there are only two doors, I have a 1/2 (50%) chance of getting it right. And it doesn’t matter if I keep my original selection or not.”
But the truth is that if you stay with your previous choice, then you still have your 33% odds, but if you switch it doubles to 66% of being correct.
At this point, most people fight back! They insist that this is wrong. And based on how closed-off a person’s mind is, they may refuse to ever see the true nature of the problem.
Therefore our third insight is to say “Help me see what you see.”
We start by shrugging our shoulders and say “It’s possible.” And then perhaps we’ve discerned that it would be a good use of our time to learn about this, so we’ve consciously chosen to engage. Now at number three, we begin by assuming that the other person sees something that we don’t get see and we ask to see it.
In the spirit of respect we say “I’m still stuck in my perspective, it seems that the odds are 50/50. What am I not seeing?”
Asking a question like this sets us up to collaborate with the other person, instead of fight against them. You’re asking for assistance from them to augment your perspective. Through your cooperation, you’ll see what they see. Your perspective will grow enough to encompass both.
4_ Give it over to your subconscious mind
Suppose after all of your collaboration with the other person (or the text you’re reading) you still can’t see it, but you still feel like you’d benefit from being able to – then we give it over to our subconscious mind and give it some time.
You simply hand it over and allow it to percolate. You place no demands on your mind to figure it out, but instead see it as a ball of yarn that will eventually unspool if you give it enough room.
This is the idea when we say “let me sleep on it”. We’re giving a chance for deeper resource of wisdom in us to make sense of it.
And there you have it! Use these for techniques to achieve the perfect balance of openness and closed-off-ness. It’s an incredibly neutral and conscious way of going about life. It denies nothing. It’s deeply respectful. Using this approach we’re simply understanding the reality that compared to everything that there is to see, understand, and know, everything that we already see, understand, and know is comparatively small. Very small, indeed.
How does all this land for you? Do you struggle more with keeping your mind open, or preventing it from being too open? Write a comment and us know!
Brent Huras is a Productivity & Flow State Coach. Get short insights on TikTok, long-form talks on YouTube, and get on his newsletter list to go deeper into the journey of Sustainable, High-Level Productivity.