Being Open-Minded is Hard Work. We Have Some Tips for You!

August 5, 2022

Do you complain when your neighbors listen to loud music until five in the morning? What about if they cook spicy foods early in the morning? How do you react to their singing on the balcony late at night? Are you open to other people’s religious and political beliefs? If you smile and nod, then you are very tolerant, or perhaps simply well-mannered! Congratulations -- many people are not.

The stereotype of the grumpy, conservative, senior is persistent but old. Seniors are, in many cases, very open-minded, engaged, and quite agile!

Open-mindedness is an ability of "mental alertness." It enables a person to be open to foreign or different ideas. It allows you to either accept them or criticize them constructively and respectfully. Not too many people have an open mind towards loud music, however. You are to be praised!

“From Archie Bunker to Grandpa Simpson, the popular assumption about senior citizens is that they’re set in their ways and politically conservative, unlikely to change their beliefs about social issues. But according to a recent study that suggests older Americans’ attitudes about many social issues are more susceptible to change than is commonly assumed.”

What Makes a Person Open-Minded?

Open-minded people are approachable, curious, and like to engage with others. They are unbiased, interested, eager to experiment, and inquisitive.

Are you open to foreign, different worlds of thought and life? Do you take pleasure in people? Are you attentive, tolerant, and engaging? Open-minded people perceive the feelings of others as well as their own. They show respectful interaction with others.

In personality tests, open-mindedness is one of the five main personality criteria. Together with conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, and extraversion, they form the “Big Five principle.” 

Open-minded people are original, too. They are open to innovative ideas and have a mindful approach to others. They do nice things for others too.

“The differences between people’s personalities can be broken down in terms of five major traits—often called the “Big Five.” Each one reflects a key part of how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People can also differ on the more specific facets that make up each of the Big Five traits.”

Why is Open-Mindedness Important?

Open-minded people have better social networks and more interpersonal relationships. They can jump at challenges as well as opportunities that present themselves. They are genetically predisposed to be happier and naturally radiate happiness. This certainly doesn't mean you have to dance on the table at the next party, but it can expand your comfort zone.

Being open and approachable to new things and friendly and smiling will make a good impression. In addition, open-mindedness:

  • helps broaden your comfort zone
  • you learn more by being approachable
  • allows you to seize the moment, rather than hold back
  • lets you experience new things and meet new people -- perhaps on a date 
  • helps you work on your critical skills

Open-mindedness in the sense of mental alertness makes a decisive contribution to an open atmosphere. It makes it possible to deal with different thoughts and behaviors, to accept them or also to criticize them respectfully and constructively.

“In everyday use, the term "open-minded" is often used as a synonym for being non-prejudiced or tolerant. From a psychological perspective, the term is used to describe how willing people are to consider other perspectives or to try out new experiences.”

How Do I Train Myself to Be (More) Open-Minded?

Open-mindedness and respect are especially important when we are in a community with different people, like a residential home. It also helps when we want to understand others better or get to know newcomers. Respect and open-mindedness enable us to deal successfully with diversity and differences in others. This difference could be simply being a vegetarian.

“To maintain an open mind, we have to strategically work at it. Though our brains may be wired against us, we can change the way we think over time. If you want to expand your observations, you first need to start paying attention.”

These are NOT open-minded examples:

  • Treat others rudely, condescendingly, or insultingly because of their difference (nationality, culture, social background, educational background, gender, language, disability, etc.)
  • Exclude and bully others
  • Deprive others of the opportunity to develop 
  • Communicate dishonestly

How to Keep an Open Mind:

  • Treat others with open-mindedness and respect
  • Show interest in their individual characteristics
  • Involve others
  • Communicate openly and honestly

However, putting your own well-being first is still very important! Only when you feel good are you able to live more a active and socially open-minded life. 

“Get out of your comfort zone … once a week listen to a different genre of music, watch a new kind of movie, or try food you’ve never had before. When it comes to politics, don’t watch or read one point of view, such as CNN or MSNBC versus Fox, or The New York Times versus The National Review. Watch and read them both.”

Are You Ready to Open Your Mind?

How will you be more open-minded today? We’d love to know. Then go ahead and share this with your friends. Want to read more articles like this? We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter where we send weekly emails with helpful and fun articles

Senior Living FYI

Go Live Your Best Life!

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