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Jim's Gems: The Influence of an Open Mind

May 5, 2014
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Henri Bergston, the French philosopher who was awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize for Literature, said, “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” In other words, if we keep our minds open to new ideas and thoughts, we will be able to see endless possibilities.

 

Do you have an open mind? Most people think they do, but how can you really make that determination? Actually keeping an open mind is one of the most challenging things to practice. Let's use this blog to briefly discuss open versus closed minds.

 

To make the point, let’s draw the analogy to a good sense of humor; most everyone thinks they have one, but the truth of the matter may be quite another story. What does it mean to have an open mind, anyway?

 

Well, here's what my experience tells me.  An open mind is one that knows the difference between fact and opinion. It partitions these in order to keep them separate and prevent them from getting mixed up. An open mind searches for the truth as best it can; and even when it feels reasonably certain of what's true, it remains open to rational argument.

 

Open minds tend to be creative, because they seek out options and use them in innovative ways. The open mind is able to flow with the ambiguities and paradoxes of life. Instead of fighting these things, the open mind acknowledges them and actually moves forward into awareness and constructive use.

 

The closed mind, however, learns helplessness and complacency because it consistently assumes  a powerless stance. Even when it is closed in absolute certainty, it gives away its power. It becomes rigid and develops blind spots to new information that may contradict what it thinks it knows. Closed minds are susceptible to prejudice, stubbornness and inflexibility.

 

Open minds, on the other hand, are generally unprejudiced, without stubbornness and flexible at all times. Closed minds tend to make choices based on personal values and current information, but open minds are willing to reconsider if it makes sense to do so.  

 

People with open minds tend to be more successful, creative and innovative. Another term I’d suggest for open minds is soft-thinking. Just like plants, ideas germinate faster in the loose soil of soft-thinking.

 

Finally, open minds are happier, healthier and much more fun to be around. Considering the above discussion, let me ask again, “Do you have an open mind?” What facts do you have upon which to base your answer?

 

If you don’t like the answer, you can change it; because you, and only you, have the power to change.

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