The Art of Open-Mindedness

Let's be honest. Open-mindedness isn't always easy. It's in our blood, our innate human nature, to be close-minded and suspicious of others. It's how our species has managed to survive all of these years. When something new or different might be sickly, harmful, or even deadly, it has always been better to be suspicious, rather than welcoming, of others' differences. As the old saying goes, better to be safe than sorry. In modern times, however, close-mindedness is no longer smiled upon. With movements across the globe promoting the rights of those who have historically been persecuted and stripped of their rights, there isn't much room left to be closed off to people who are different from ourselves. Keeping this in mind, we must now ask how we, as a race, can overcome hundreds of years of close-minded thinking. How can we overcome our very own human nature? Like many other innate human qualities such as stage fright, close-mindedness can be overcome.

In order to help overcome closed-mindedness, we must first determine its causes. One of the core causes of close-mindedness is ignorance, which leads to a fear of the unknown. When you do not know a lot about something, there is a possibility of this unknown thing becoming dangerous, tying back in to our human philosophy of "better safe than sorry". Better not to eat a bizarre new mushroom off of the forest floor than to risk dying of its poison.

Another cause of close-mindedness is misinformation. Many people read or hear facts that are untrue of others, but believe them regardless, since they have not been taught any better. Others may keep themselves informed, but from very limited and unvarying sources, leading them to only receive very biased or one-sided information.

In order to combat these modern-day causes of close-mindedness, we must expose ourselves to others, especially those who differ from ourselves. This does not mean changing who you are or what your thought processes are; rather, it means learning more about and observing other peoples' differences. When you learn and observe something you do not know, its unfamiliarity is slowly ebbed away. Instead of being completely unknown to you, these differences are slowly illuminated in your mind, and become less and less frightening as it is proved to be more and more unable to harm you.

It is also important that you observe all kinds of people from all kinds of sources. While meeting different kinds of people in person is always the most effective option, it is not always the most practical one. Therefore, you might also want to try learning about different people via books or TV shows. While its true that they are not always the most factual sources, they are the best sources to discover and understand the thought processes and emotions of people different from yourself (especially fiction. There are entire studies devoted to how reading fiction novels can help you develop a better understanding of others).

Therefore, the next time you are bored and have nothing to do, crack open a book or watch a movie, and help yourself become a more open-minded person.

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