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Positively Speaking: Keeping an open mind


By Toby Moore

For Capital Region Independent Media

Toby Moore

Are you open-minded? I like to say I am, but am I?

What does it mean to be open-minded? Is it even possible to be genuinely open-minded? Does that mean you aren’t open-minded if you have strong convictions?

This column is about positivity; although I’m not perfect, I try to close my mind to negativity. Does that mean I’m closed-minded?

Is being open-minded a virtue or a vice? I guess it depends.

Someone told me that having an open mind means listening to different thoughts, opinions and beliefs, examining how they conflict with your convictions and ideas, and then allowing your view to change should the idea be worthy of your acceptance.

I’ve also learned that being open-minded can mean being open-minded to the possibilities for the future.

I’ve met many people who are closed-minded to the idea that good things can happen. They are stuck in a mindset that success isn’t attainable, giants are undefeatable, and the bad guys will always win.

Being closed-minded is when we close our minds to new possibilities, opinions or ways of thinking. We build a box around what we know or want to be true, but then we never think outside the box.

When we become closed-minded in the wrong way, if we’re not careful, it’s possible that we also lose the ability to imagine what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes or to see the world from a different perspective.

Once we get into a thinking pattern, we develop a routine and stay in that pattern. I’m not against routines, but sometimes getting stuck in a routine can lead you to a particular way of thinking. Sometimes changing the routine can help open your mind to new thinking patterns.

If we’re stuck in a particular pattern of thinking and a problem arises that is caused by the way we think, is it possible to truly solve the problem by continuing to think in the same way?

In some ways, we can become prisoners of our beliefs and assumptions.

I am guilty of learning to do things in a certain way and then believing everyone should do it that same way, only to learn that most people don’t want to do it the same way, and if I try to get them to do it that way, they don’t listen!

Confirmation bias is when we accept evidence that supports our beliefs and mindsets and reject evidence that doesn’t.

If you challenge someone to think differently, it can quickly become a fight. Some people don’t want their beliefs and ideas to be challenged, and maybe we should respect that and learn to live with them in peace.

In today’s world, it seems that when we encounter someone of a radically different belief system, even amongst people born and raised in our own country, rather than trying to understand why they think the way they think, we hate them and call them names. It’s easy not to listen to their ideas and write them off because we believe they are immoral people.

Am I saying we shouldn’t defend and debate what we believe to be true? No.

Having a closed mind may cause us to oversimplify the other person’s point of view because we don’t want to think too deeply about the issue. A closed mind results in our rational thinking and imagination becoming stunted. We lose the ability to relate.

Some of the best leaders, innovators and businesspeople were open to the possibilities of a new way of doing things. They helped people to see their vision, dramatically changing our way of life.

What would happen if we had a more open mind in our approach to family? Could it change the whole dynamic and lead to better relationships? Is it possible that having an open mind to how we deal with people we disagree with could radically change the country’s direction? I hope so.

I’m open to the possibilities.

Toby Moore is a columnist, the star of Emmy-nominated “A Separate Peace,” and the CEO of Cubestream Inc.

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