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Apr 30, 2019 10:35:49

How to be open-minded

by @haideralmosawi PATRON | 489 words | 🐣 | 133💌

Haider Al-Mosawi

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There is a common misconception about open-mindedness as being accepting of everything. Accepting ideas as equally valid and all lifestyles and moral choices equally acceptable. 

This isn't the definition of open-mindedness I subscribe to*, although I'm open-minded enough to be willing to change my views. :P

Open-mindedness is the willingness to change one's views based on the evidence presented.

Unfortunately, admitting we are wrong is often extremely difficult for us to do, and for a variety of reasons. Many of us have formed our identity around our beliefs (Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, etc), and to admit a fault in our beliefs threatens our identities.

Humans often dread the sense of doubt. If you've been emotionally and intellectually invested in a worldview, admitting a crack often means revising the entire structure of our belief system, making us feel vulnerable and exposed to doubt as we scramble to find another ideological footing.

We sometimes worry about the consequences of admitting we are wrong and others are right. How will this new conclusion impact my existing relationships and affiliations? Do I have to cancel my support for the causes I used to believe in? Do I have to publicly admit that I'm at fault?

The sense of identity, fear of doubt, and fear of consequences can make open-mindedness seem undesirable as a path to take. It seems like there's too much at stake.

But... 

  • If we don't form our identity around our beliefs and base it, instead, on being truth seekers, then not being open-minded threatens our identity
  • If we are more afraid of embracing false beliefs masquerading as truth, doubt becomes our salvation from falsehood and a stepping stone towards truth
  • If we recognize that admitting truth is a virtue not a vice, then those who truly care about truth won't be offended by our pursuit of it. Admitting when we are wrong is an act of courage, not a sign of weakness

Open-mindedness is essential for healthy living, psychological well-being, scientific and technological advancement, and cultural flourishing.

In my university years I wanted to be a truth seeker, not a belief confirmer. I didn't want to accept beliefs simply because I was told they were true. I would therefore imagine myself embracing different religions or going through the hardships of confessing the change in my beliefs, so I would condition myself to accept such changes, without allowing fear to determine the beliefs I chose to embrace.

How do you seek to become more open-minded?


* Accepting other people's freedom to make their own life choices is another matter that overlaps with open-mindedness, but isn't identical to it. 

Open-mindedness is the willingness to embrace different beliefs, whereas liberalism (in the classical sense) is the acknowledgment that humans function best when they live by their own conclusions, without being coerced into accepting conclusions their reasons and experiences don't support. 

You can choose to persuade others without imposing your views and values on them.

  • 1

    @haideralmosawi

    "How do you seek to become more open-minded?"

    By not taking my ideas too seriously, while still paying them respects.

    I also like how you pointed out that admitting wrong is actually courage rather than weakness.

    I think people want to not present themselves as weak, which they view admitting wrong as being. We are too stuck playing by the external 'visible' scoreboard rather than the internal one.

    We are too self conscious to admit when we are wrong because that will show others that we were wrong... and only stupid weak people are wrong!

    But this is how I lived most of life... but then I realized that there are people out there who know that hte external scorecard is bogus. That there exists internal scorecards within all of us. And I seek only to be with people now how recognize such and also live by such.

    There is also a difference between knowing and living. And though the former is usually required to do the latter, the existence of the former is never the guarantee of a progression to the latter.

    Sir Abe avatar Sir Abe | Apr 30, 2019 14:21:06
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