Open minds are a joy to be around. Holding their opinions lightly and welcoming new
perspectives, they embrace diversity, and see things with a wide lens. Rather than focusing
their attention solely on information that confirms their existing opinions, open minds resist
re-enforcing what they already know. Confirmation Bias is the fruit of a closed mind, the
result of placing one’s attention on sources of information that only serve to confirm
existing beliefs. In our ever more polarising world of vocal opinions, the best hope we have
of a balanced society – one that walks the line between extremes – is to acknowledge our
own limitations in understanding, and to open our minds to new ways of seeing and
experiencing the world.

If you are the type of person to choose discussion over an argument, it’s likely you tend to
hold your opinions lightly. Vigorously standing up for your views without seriously
considering the other side is a fast way to lose friends and usually not worth the fight. No
one ever really wins an argument, “A person convinced against their will is of the same
opinion still”. The result of setting out to prove others wrong can end in distrust of those
with a differing perspective, a decline in your sense of community, and a resulting loss of
connection with the people around you. A question to ask yourself when faced with your
potentially polarising viewpoint is, how strongly do I believe this, and am I willing to change
my mind?

Confirmation Bias can become a self-perpetuating cycle. We all have beliefs picked up either
from direct experience or somebody else’s opinion. When we want this opinion to be true,
usually for emotive reasons, we seek out information and people who confirm and
strengthen our existing beliefs. When enough people get together who all think and say the
same things (the opposite of diversity) we get something called Group Think, and anyone
who does not think as the group thinks is simply not welcome. This is an age-old problem of
boxed in thinking, and the simplest way to avoid it is to keep your options open and your
friend group as diverse as possible. We avoid ‘us and them’ thinking when we diversify our
thoughts and experiences, continually opening our minds to the fresh and new.

Expand your mind to welcome in new people, places, experiences, and sources of
information. Open minded people know how surface level their understanding really is and
they are keen to learn from viewpoints different to their own. You can’t get into an
argument with someone of flexible opinions, thus you can develop a mutually beneficial
relationship based on ever increasing understanding of your different ways of perceiving the
world.

Can you acknowledge that you are not always correct, your perspective is limited, and there
are many ways of seeing life? This is a massive step forward in the direction of improved
mental wellbeing and will greatly enhance the quality of your relationships and sense of
community. Ask questions – don’t shy away from the tricky ones – and be willing to discuss
anything. An open-minded person resists the urge to be right and becomes the voice of
reason. As my brother once shared with me, “Have strong opinions, held lightly”.


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