When faced with something new, there’s a tendency for all of us to become guarded and cautious. In many situations, it’s easier to stick to what we know, whether that’s what we’re eating, who we’re talking to, or the ideas circling our heads. On the surface, there’s nothing inherently bad about it our desire to stay within our comfort zones, but too much time in them prompts us to put up the kind of blinders that limit our thinking, hurt the people around us, and make life pretty bland.
Nobody wants to admit that they’re closed-minded. But if you are feeling the creeping hunch of “oh no, is this me?” uneasiness, know that it’s never too late to change your thinking. And more good news, it’s all starts with the person you know best.
Making assumptions is a quick way to limit your ability to welcome what’s new or different. If you find yourself thinking, “I wouldn’t like that,” “I couldn’t relate,” or “people like that are…,” instead, try asking yourself, “what if I’m wrong?” A simple enough with the power to turn close-mindedness into curiosity about the unknown or alternative.
Opening your mind doesn’t necessarily mean changing it, but it does involve learning to view the world from multiple perspectives. When encountering someone whose outlook differs from your own, try finding common ground in something like your shared love of sports, mutual friends, or hobbies. By focusing on your similarities instead of differences, you’ll be able to find legitimacy in their opinions without automatically tossing them out.
Our capacity for openness also has a lot to do with trying new things. Set a goal for yourself to try something new every month, whether it’s listening to music that’s outside your preferred genre, visiting a new neighborhood, or volunteering with people you don’t know. With enough time, you might just develop an attitude that believes in going with the flow and finding good in the places where you least expect it.