Jack Freed recently posted this little quote on his blog Jack’s Winning Words – “I believe in having an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.” (Arthur Hays Sulzberger)
I like that quote because sometimes, under the guise of having an open mind, people do let their common sense (their brains) fall by the wayside and end up doing stupid things. An open mind is one that is willing to consider a change in position or understanding on a topic. Everyone and everything that we interact with conjures up some mental predisposition in our minds about them/it and how to react to the encounter. Sometimes, those predispositions may be strong and well as wrong and have turned into unfounded prejudices. Many times it may just be a feeling of unease or fear, if we have little or no experiences upon which to fora more positive reaction.
When you’re a child prejudices may be more excusable, because you haven’t experienced enough or learned enough to really have an informed opinion. As you grow up there is an expectation that your will gain first-hand experiences and knowledge that helps you make better decision; or at least that is the hope. A key to that growth is your ability to keep an open mind, but also to use your brain to sort, categorize and assimilate new bits of knowledge so that the basis for your reaction to events and people is based on better knowledge. Some do a better job at that than others do.
Some people really don’t have a mind that is open to change, no matter what evidence is presented that a long held conviction is wrong. They have locked their brains tightly into a reality that is theirs alone and they “see” the world from within that realm. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case in Washington these days, as the politicians there become more and more polarized. One certainly doesn’t see a lot of open minds there, just a lot of brainless behavior.
How do you start each day? Are you open to new ideas, new thoughts and new ways of seeing things? Do you see meeting new people who are different from you as an opportunity to learn or as a threat? Is your brain open to learning new things or too busy defending old prejudices, fears and unsubstantiated positions?
Being open to new ideas, new thoughts and new people does not mean blindly accepting them or immediately acting upon them, as Sulzberger was saying in his quote. You still have to engage your brain to evaluate their worth and place within your life. Some new idea may well displace old ideas that you now know were not completely right or which no longer fit for you. New people in your life may replace old friends who no longer share your values or whose position on things is no longer aligned with yours. Life happens and you move on.
So, let changes happen in your life and your outlook on life. Don’t let where you were at hold you back from where you are going. Use your brain to sort through new thoughts and beliefs and to control the pace and extent of those changes, but not to block them out. Keep an open mind. Don’t worry, your brains won’t really fall out.