“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
The definition of closed-minded is: Intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others; stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others, nor do I want to be stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas.
And I bet you don’t either.
Of course, you and I will invariably be closed-minded at times. We have to be, or our brains will explode from the sheer number of possibilities in life.
We have to be able to limit our choices so we can function. This is the only way our brains can work in the world.
We are wise to be closed-minded (or focused-minded). Closed-mindedness can seep into the other parts of our lives where it does us a significant disservice.
When you are intolerant of the ideas and beliefs of others, you miss out on the opportunity to refine your thoughts and opinions. You miss out on evolving into a more enlightened individual. The same happens when you are stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas (obviously).
I know what you’re thinking, “Duh.”
But what’s not so “duh” is that you have a slew of cognitive biases that make you closed-minded without you realizing it—as do I—confirmation bias, selection bias, groupthink, likability bias, and so on. There are plenty more (and I recommend reading up on each).
So, how do you avoid being closed-minded at times when you may not realize it?
Well, that’s a great question that has no easy answer. To combat cognitive biases, you must develop self-awareness, embrace vulnerability, and possess the willingness to accept that you are wrong at times, among other things.
I have a few ideas that have worked for me, which are…
1. Read books on psychology, philosophy, biographies, and fiction. The more you read, the more you learn about yourself.
2. Always question everything, especially yourself. The more you ask objective questions, the better you’ll be.
I use these two main tools to be as open-minded and wise as possible. They both have served me wonderfully in my personal and professional life. I can’t recommend them anymore.
Read and question… and you hold raw power.