In the aftermath of a recession, open-mindedness may sound like a luxury. Our natural response is to tighten the belt and wait for the worst to pass. These are the times when our capacity to embrace new ideas, ideas and solutions is not only important, but important.
The world has never been a guardian of new things than in times of uncertainty. As an added bonus, those who choose to see the world as more opportunities see more economic benefits.
In a 2017 study, researchers found that people with open-mindedness go up and maintain levels of happiness. They also found that these people were “adaptable, curious, creative and open to exploring the world.” The best part? Openness is not a birthmark, but it is learned. Just as you have learned to ride a bicycle or have a budget, you can also learn to let go of preconceived ideas and move on with your life. Start with these tips.
- Introduce variety.
Sure, changing your Friday evening location can count, but think big. If you live at sea every year on vacation, take a trip to the mountains and – with a guide – throw your physical and mental energy. If you have never met young people outside of the office in the last six months, sign up for a local cooking class or volunteer to teach art at a nursing home. This openness to new experiences increases your complexity of integration, which is how the brain makes new connections and patterns between seemingly incompatible pieces of information.
- Keep your mind calm.
The act of meditation may be open-minded to many. If this is the first time you are trying to meditate, you may feel awkward, perhaps even stupid. Rely on that feeling and accept that anything new comes with a tint of fear and uncertainty. Research has found that mindfulness — the ability to concentrate on breathing — can change the work on our brain. Breathing calms our bodies and calms our minds, and allows us to take other ideas beyond the judgment, fear, or ideas we already have in mind – the enemies of open mind.
- Develop imaginative disagreements.
No, keyboard heroes, this is not permission to pass on your news of political soap boxes to knock. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes that “you want to understand first and then be understood.” Imagine if you had to enter into all the new discussions about the importance of understanding the speaker’s point of view before entering your opinion. It’s harder than it sounds.
- Remove your blinds.
The practice is good and can have a lot of benefits for efficiency, productivity and fatigue of decisions. But getting used to a normal routine may sound like wearing blinds. We go to auto-pilot while the world goes back. What important details have we lost in that domain? If you work in one place, spend one day a week working in a coffee shop. Schedule a weekly chat session that encourages out-of-the-box thinking. Meet with peers, mentors or colleagues in the industry regularly to learn about the different styles, ideas, and feedback that can be important to your growth.
The challenge of the types of go-getter we write about in this magazine, daydreaming is not just idle or lazy. Daydreaming research is a growing field, but those who read it have shown that participants have reported an increase in old thinking, compassion, self-awareness, and future planning – in other words, the beliefs of good leadership. Schedule a time to let your mind wander. Keep that time sacred as a board meeting or potential customer presentation. Keep a journal of ideas that emerges during these times and let your unconscious mind work on problems and come up with creative solutions.
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