Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Open the Mind to Expand It

By Tamara Martfeld

One of the easiest ways to improve the mind is to open it. More and more I am seeing evidence of close-minded people. People are refusing to listen to each other, people are fired for expressing opinions on their private web pages or social media, and physical fights are breaking out to stop someone from expressing their views. For example, there have been recent riots just because there was a lecture planned to be given by a person with view to the extreme right or left – the lecture had not even taken place when the riots occurred. Here in America we have the right to free speech. However, more and more that right is being taken away from citizens by the citizens.

Opening the mind is easy, but it may take a little courage and self-restraint in some instances. The important thing is to expose yourself to ideas and views which are different from your own. It is even better if you expose yourself to views which are radically different from your own. However, when you do this, it is also important to listen and try to see the view from the other side. Seeing the other side’s view does not mean that you agree, only that you understand.

Although this exposure is intended to improve your mind, it can help you in your personal and business life as well. For example, if you are trying to come to an agreement with another person or group on how to address an issue, the ability to see the other side’s view will help you find common goals or ideas you can use to start negotiation. Sometimes it can lead to a true win-win solution: each side may want something from the solution which is different, and both sides can have what it wanted without any compromise.

There are many ways to open the mind to new ideas. Start with what is comfortable and work your way up to those actions which are less comfortable. The list below will get you started, and there are many other actions which can be taken in addition to the list:

Attend lectures of people who have views which are different from your own. Work your way from people who have ideas slightly different views to people with radically different views.

Attend entertainment which is different from what you are used to. If you listen to only classical music, try some easy listening or even hard rock. Talk to people who like what you are not normally exposed to, explain that you want to be exposed to their entertainment, and ask them for suggestions. I love music and I have been able to find something in every genre of music that I like, but I do have my preferences like everyone else.

Read books and other publications containing opposing views from your own. If there is something hot in the news, read the story from all sides of the issue. You may frequently find yourself laughing at the law makers when you see what they are fighting over! Over time you will likely find that someone is changing views on a given issue as if they just have to be opposite the other side (I have seen it in Democrats and Republicans).

Expose yourself to the core beliefs of other people. If you believe in religion X, expose yourself to religion Y. The internet is a good source for this exposure if you do not know anyone in the other religion. Very important: if using the internet, make sure you are on official sites of the other religion. Many religions have radicals and you want to be exposed to the real religion and not an extreme version of it. Once you understand the real religion, go ahead and look at the radical side to understand it, but don’t confuse it with the real religion. When I explored other religions I found a list of 150 verses from 150 bible which stated “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” in different ways. Each bible was listed. Frankly, I did not realize until that point that there were that many different religions.

By opening your mind and expanding it, you will find many conversations less stressful and more interesting, decisions easier to make as you will be able to better predict the results of the decisions, and relationships more meaningful as people will be more willing to communicate with you.

Have lots of fun expanding your mind!