More Open-Minded in 3 Steps: Examine, Exercise, Experience
Doesn't it drive you nuts when someone just gets stuck in their way of doing something and wants nothing to do with a new, often better approach?
A child who refuses to try that healthy meal defaulting to chicken nuggets and french fries. A partner who won't take you up on your offer to go to the theater, because he says he hates musicals. A coworker who will not give the new faster approach a chance because she has been doing it the old way for 12 years and she's content. The list goes on.
You could call it being conservative or narrow-minded or close-minded but there's a reason ALL OF US are (at least sometimes) this way. I will get more into Why We Resist Change in a future post but it's important to mention that it's natural.
We are wired to resist change because our brain has evolved to protect itself and our body. Because conscious thought requires more energy, our basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls habits and routines, creates neural networks that automate certain behaviors so they can be done unconsciously, freeing up mental capacity to perform the actions we're aware of.
We can develop new habits but it's hard. And once we do, unlearning and replacing existing habits is difficult as well. In a way, each time we try to change routines we are fighting our own nature.
However, natural isn't always beneficial. If we always stay as we are now and never take risks, opportunities to learn and improve our lives and impact those of others will pass us by. Thus, it is important to develop and practice our open-mindedness.
I recently watched the TEDxHaarlem Talk by Ricardo Lieuw On How to triple your memory by using this trick, which inspired me to think about my own open-mindedness and how I can help my son and my students practice it.
Turns out, we all can help our kids practice being more open-minded. If we treat it as a skill, we can become more open-minded ourselves.
It's important to mention that all of us are quite open to trying new things in some personal and professional arenas and not so receptive to trying new approaches in other realms of life.
No one is always close-minded or always open-minded but all of us can benefit from becoming more open to new experiences, approaches, and possibilities.
I created the infographic below for my new book Crush School Student Guide: Your Fun, Fast, and Easy Journey to Becoming a Smarter Student which is a series of lessons and activities designed for teens to learn how to learn more effectively scheduled to be published on Amazon on July 27th. The graphic uses a 3-step approach to practicing open-mindedness in any situation.
It entails consciously Examining our thoughts, behaviors, routines, and habits.
It calls for Exercising our minds in observing and considering new ways and approaches.
It requires Experiencing new things and applying new methods to our situations.
You can grab a printable PDF poster of the above infographic here if you'd like to use it in your home, office, or classroom as a reminder to practice open-mindedness.
Though dictionaries and thesauruses might say otherwise, creativity and narrow-mindedness are antonyms. You can't innovate without an open mind.
Luckily, practicing being more open-minded is possible with awareness - bringing the unconscious to the conscious - and then taking action. It's a skill we can teach our kids. And then they can... who knows?
You have the power to change lives. Use it often so they can change the world.
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