“Empty your cup so it can be filled; become devoid to gain totality” – Bruce Lee
Do you think of yourself as open-minded? How can we tell if we’re really open-minded, or simply clutching onto our long-held ideas?
An Open Mind: What Is It?
Being open-minded means more than listening to new ideas; it means really hearing and understanding them before choosing which ones to implement yourself.
Emptying yourself of all other thoughts before hearing something new; I think this is what Bruce Lee meant.
Benefits of Open Mindedness
While I was researching for this post, I found a ton of information and most of it was conflicting! Is open-mindedness trying a bunch of possibilities, or being open to finding exactly what you want, and then committing to it?
Perhaps having an open mind means listening to other people’s perspectives without judging. When you live in a context culturally different to your own, this is difficult!
There are SO many times I catch myself getting angry inside when I’m rushing to a teaching session, and wishing people in the metro would walk on the right (or the left), and stick to one side. You know, instead of blocking my path, walking in a zig-zag or stopping for no reason.
Then, I remember:
This is their culture. I live here as a “guest” so to speak. Another perspective is that you don’t really need to rush or worry. That people will understand a transport delay, that you could leave earlier next time and go more slowly.
I was reminded of this in a private tutoring lesson last week for an advanced 17-year-old English student. The topic in New English File Advanced was “stress”. It was such a challenge to understand her perspective and have her discuss strategies for stress management because she simply isn’t stressed.
That’s not to say she doesn’t care- she does. It’s also not to say she doesn’t have a lot of work, in her final year of high school – she does.
Actually, the way she explained it to me was as follows: she does the best she can, and once it’s over (an exam for example), she can be sad for a few mins if she doesn’t think it went well- but what about after that? Well, it doesn’t make any sense to worry).
How liberating would that feeling be?
If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have read about my challenges with swimming (or learning to swim again). It’s been 9 months of weekly lessons now, and while I’ve improved a lot since not being able to fully immerse my head in water! However, my swim coach says I’m
Maybe having an “open mind” would be trying to adopt a perspective completely opposite to your own for awhile, to see how it works.
In this respect, Spain is good for me. I’m definitely learning to be more open-minded 😉
3 Ways To Kickstart Open-Mindedness In Your Life
1 Meet New People
Now, don’t get me wrong- I love hanging out with my current friends. However, joining MeetUp.com is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Moving to Barcelona almost four years ago, I was determined to immerse myself in Spanish. Meetup is such a great way to meet people with common interests. Open yourself to new experiences (last year I tried sailing, for example), and you’ll be surprised how quickly new perspectives will follow.
2 Ask Opinions From Many People. Then, Listen.
Well, this one is pretty simple. I’d say the best way to get new perspectives is to ask. Remember to listen patiently, and then ask your friend, room-mate, colleague, to explain any parts you don’t understand.
Consider their perspective, but make up your own mind. That’s how I make my decisions! (Using a decision matrix, actually, but I’ll save that for a future post) 😉
3 Letting Go Of Control
Now, I have to admit the third tip was not my own – it’s taken from the Forbes article I mention below. In fact, letting go of control is the biggest challenge I have (and have always had). I’m a self-pronounced control freak (over my own life, not anyone else’s). This one is definitely a work-in-progress, so I’m going to be totally honest here and say it’s not my strong point! If you have tips about how to best let go of worries or stress, feel free to share them with us in the comments!
So, as some of you may know I’m really into Martial Arts. Well, at least I was when I got to brown stripe at my MMA school in Canada, or joined Oxford’s kickboxing team. I still train with my personal trainer, but
Why do I bring up Martial Arts in a post about having an open mind?
P.S. Photo fans, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Blanes, Spain a couple summers ago.
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