How do we stay open-minded? It never seemed very important to me until I started to listen to music. With the little transistor radio I received for my birthday I listened to the radio pirates that transmitted the music I preferred from their boats off the Dutch coast.
But how did I know I preferred the ‘pirate’ music over classical music from the state-sanctioned post-war distribution radio? Through my friends. They shared their excitement about the music they loved with me. And through the newspaper, I read every morning.
Of course, I wanted to identify myself with my friends through the music. I wanted to be part of the group. The problem was that I participated in different groups. With different musical preferences. How was I able to keep an open mind for these differences without losing myself?
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Table of contents
- 1 How do we stay open-minded?
- 2 New restrictions
- 3 An open mind, or not?
- 4 A wonderful present
- 5 How to stay open-minded?
- 6 The benefits of an open mind
- 7 We can change
- 8 Let’s share how we stay open-minded
How do we stay open-minded?
Have friends. Ask questions. Observe and learn. Live fully. Look for information. We all possess the tools to become or stay open-minded and should apply them because an open mind comes with many benefits.
I noticed that my friends verbally fought over the music they preferred. No love was ever shared between the different groups. Moreover, the different groups expressed their preferences by their clothes and the way they behaved.
Because I preferred various kinds of music, I was a traitor to every group. Which made me rather sneaky, constantly trying to avoid clashes with either group.
My first lesson was that the rise of popular culture might have ended some social, political, and religious restrictions. They were, however, quickly replaced by new ones. I didn’t like this when I was young, and I don’t like it now.
An open mind, or not?
This separation of identities went totally against my idea that popular culture, and most certainly music, should free your mind. And that such an open mind was supposed to be a widely shared ideal, not just a youthful matter. I thought all generations fell for the new freedoms.
Everybody had to be more understanding, more equal, and always prepared to compromise. As a matter of fact, research showed that over the past fifty years, decisions between partners and between parents and children gradually became more and more based on these principles.
What an amazing achievement. However, after a lot of friendly culture clashes over music, TV series, and movies, I also concluded that an open mind was for many limited to their taste. So, how do we stay open-minded, or not? And if not, how can we open it?
A wonderful present
Moving on in life, we met other friends. Other friends with other ideas and choices. As it happened, I once got a wonderful present from a friend, who I helped with his income tax: a ticket for the opera Satyagraha of Philip Glass. The opera is about Gandhi.
Never before had I heard of Philip Glass. Never before did I take the opportunity to listen to opera. The opera lasted three hours, with two intermissions. After the first break, a third of the concertgoers were gone. After the second break another third.
How was that possible? Why did they leave? I’ve been sitting straight up, at the utmost tip of my seat, totally consumed by the music and the performance, hating the breaks. From then on I have been hooked on Glass, minimal music, and on opera. Without giving up my love for soul and blues.
How to stay open-minded?
The amazing thing is, after this experience my open mind for music and many other aspects of life never left me again. I learned to love jazz music. Poetry is another lifetime love.
Sustainability has been at the top of my professional life for the last 25 years. Organic agriculture I more seriously picked up when we moved to Spain. When I think about it, in my mind there is still room for much more.
Never did I ponder much about the question, how I kept that open mind. For me, it was just a fact of life. The moment my mind would close, my life would end. However, going back over all those years, I came up with the following 5 simple tips.
Friends are key to an open mind
No matter how nice it is that your friends listen to you, once in a while shut up and listen to them. More in general ‘open ears’ are, as much as ‘open eyes’, a basic tool of an open mind.
Another basic tool are questions
Ask questions, again and again. We make fun of our grandchildren when we explain something to them and they keep on asking: ‘Why?’ Yet, they just train the use of one of the most fundamental rules for an open mind.
Every day, tune all your senses to life’s experiences
Observe and learn. Reflect on what you see, hear, smell, and feel when you walk in the streets. What do your senses tell you?
Another key tool for an open mind is a healthy set of emotions
Don’t be afraid of your emotions, get to the bottom of them. Is that complicated? Of course not. What do you feel when your senses are tuned to life in the streets? Beautiful, isn’t it?
An open mind comes with open sources
For open sources, we live in fortunate times with the Internet. However, when surfing on the net, don’t forget that the above four other tips for an open mind are also valid. Apply them.
The benefits of an open mind
Do these tips seem a little demanding to you? They actually are not. This is because when we practice them, they teach us that our individual lives only change very slowly. And this is good because it shows us that an open mind helps us to control our feelings of stress. However, there are more benefits.
Change society for the better
We better understand how we relate to other people and to our surrounding world. More than ever, we exert ambiguous feelings: our lives are okay, but in society, things are not going well. Open your mind and you will be able to control your worries by energizing them to change society for the better.
Which choices will make us happy?
We get a clearer picture of the choices we want to make in life. What choices will make us happy?
Ambiguity is part of an open mind
We get more grip on our often, and simultaneously, opposing opinions and attitudes. When you open your mind to the fact that our ambiguous mindset is the best way to survive, you will see the beauty of this.
An open mind gives perspective
An open mind gives perspective to our personal norms and values, ideals, preferences, principles, and morality. And how they are influenced by public opinion and our friends.
Enables adaptation to life’s conditions
It also gives a better perspective on the conditions that we cannot determine. A perspective on how we can best adapt ourselves to these conditions.
We can change
Let’s reverse the challenge. Let’s assume that the choice is ours. What do we do? Are we going to stand in line? We wait and see? Or do we make the choice to set our minds free?
Our mind is the most powerful part of our body. Give our mind the power to control us, by training it to be open. Open to our wishes. Open to friends. Open to new experiences.
Change is possible. We humans have changed. We will change from now on and forever. An open mind is our best tool to enjoy such changes.
Never did I figure to have an open mind. Yet, as a matter of fact, I do. When I look back at my life, I notice that many new challenges shared my path. And gave me much pleasure.
Sometimes these challenges came uninvited. Sometimes I invented them myself. When challenges come uninvited, an open mind is required to be able to adapt. To be able to invent my own challenges, my open mind serves the creativity, and often also the bravery, to bring the challenge to a satisfying close.
Looking back, this made me realize that sharing my insights about my open mind and its challenges, has many advantages.
What are your thoughts on an open mind? Share them with us in the comment box below.