Are we all mental prisoners?
By Jini Li
January 16, 2017
When a person attains the virtue of open-mindedness, they also practice the virtues of acceptance, flexibility, forgiveness, listening, understanding, patience, humility, courtesy, cooperation, observing, trust, trustworthiness, supportiveness, detachment, awareness, honoring, acknowledging and giving. But why is open-mindedness important in and of itself?
Open-mindedness as a virtue is multi-faceted and speaks to a both a person’s internal and external environments. Without open-mindedness, internal conflict can arise and situations can lack meaning and purpose. Practicing open-mindedness is allowing to both yourself and to others.
Open-mindedness permits a person to be self-forgiving, self-trusting, self-supportive and aware. Open-mindedness prevents a person from being self-critical and self-blaming. It prevents guilt from taking root. It opens a person up to a myriad of possibilities. When people are open-minded with themselves, they experience peace of mind and contentment, love and acceptance. Open-mindedness requires people to overcome ego.
Open-mindedness causes a person to value the opinions of others and to exercise tolerance, if not patience, when listening to or observing another person. The open-minded person can acknowledge that another person’s viewpoint is legitimate – if not from the listener’s perspective, then quite possibly from the speaker’s perspective. They are interested in new ideas and experiences, and do not have a need to insist, to control or to shut out the opinions of others. People with open-mindedness are comfortable allowing ideas to flow freely. With open-mindedness, a person recognizes that to learn, one must assume the humble stance of ignorance. Just as a full room has no space for anything new, occupied mind space has no room for different or new concepts.
When a person is open-minded, they honor the fact that truth is not always immediately apparent, and that understanding may require deeper contemplation. They accept that even though they may not understand something immediately, this does not mean they won’t understand it moments later.
An open-minded person waits before they draw conclusions. They try to gain a thorough understanding about everything that pertains to a subject before making deductions. They hold their tongue, and are reluctant to speak poorly of another, because they know there could be information of which they are yet unaware. Information that could change the whole picture.
Open-mindedness creates cohesion between people. It binds people by means of building trust. If you are speaking to a person you recognize as being open-minded, you feel comfortable to speak your mind. You trust that the open-minded person will not misunderstand you or jump to conclusions, because the open-minded person listens with the intent of trying to understand your true meaning.
Open-minded individuals have an ability to remain neutral. They do not take a stance for or against people, ideas or circumstances without due consideration of all factors. They are observant. These people are like a balance. They weigh the pros and cons without being emotionally attached to an outcome. Truly open-minded people do not have expectations one way or another, because they are truly unbiased. They are not colored by love or by hate. Their judgements are not based on favoritism or discrimination.
Open-mindedness is a strength that requires impartiality. Some people might think that impartiality signals a lack of resolution one way or the other. However, it takes a lot of inner strength to speak an unbiased truth knowing that the information may not be what people want to hear. It takes comparable inner strength to let go of something and to stand up for something. An impartial person will be able to see the difference between truth and falsity and recognize when to let go and when to speak up. Letting go may require an admission that one’s opinion is erroneous, and a willingness to reevaluate with new input. This is strength indeed.
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