Open-Mindedness and It’s Endlessness
This week I’ve been wrestling between several different ideas on what to write about for this column, and yet they’ve all in one way culminated around the same idea. Open-mindedness, something I’m not quite sure is a real word, and in fact I’m almost certain isn’t a real word. But being ‘open-minded’ is an action, and this neologistic word that is open-mindedness is something more of a ‘Theme’, a ‘Concept’ that leads to the action of being ‘open-minded’. You still with me?
In this world a lot of the news we read points to the probability of the world being anything but open-minded. So I wanted to write something that gives you examples of how we are open minded, and just how endless being open minded makes our lives. Let me first reference one of the first things to spark my interest in this! VSAUCE a fantastic YouTube channel who created a video on how life lasts, or at least seems to last longer if we constantly discover things;
In the video Michael goes through the sciences of how it works and how our brain reacts to certain things. From birth we know very little and so we are always discovering new places, and people and ideas and that is why our childhood always feels so long. As we grow older with a less active life we feel we know everything, and henceforth the shouts and cries of “why is my life going so quickly?” begin.
But how does that relate to open-mindedness? Well the whole idea behind trying to make you think of it as a theme rather than a standalone action is because it is sort of like an ideology. It’s a state of mind where we either approach events or people with a very specific, stubborn mind or a more you-never-know, anything-can-happen attitude. With the former all we know is what we know or what we want to believe and so how can we expect to have a long and fulfilling life? As a quick example one of the newest viral Netflix sensations at the moment is Making A Murderer. I don’t want to spoil it because it is a really interesting documentary to watch with little information from the start but it’s reaction suggests some form of improvement in thought. What I mean by this is that we have always had rebellious, against-the-state documentaries and individuals but the reaction has not been as fierce. Inside and out of this documentary, people are being encouraged to be open-minded about the justice system, about the media, about everything! People have actively gone out and tried to do things about it. The cynical amongst us would say that it is merely cyclical and everything will return back to the old ways of passivity and further corruption but that’s not what this column is about! It’s possible it’s a cyclical thing that may just happen again, but the more times it comes back around the closer we get to the possibility of a solution.
Now that’s just speaking on a very grand, all-worldly, everyone-hold-hands-and-take-over-the-world perspective, which is great but this is about individual open-mindedness. If someone is approached with an opportunity, depending on what it is and their state of mind, depends if they want to go. If they don’t go they could be stuck at home, eating sorbet and watching a movie (not judging, I 100% have done this). Yet not going because of a certain train of thought, could stop the meeting of a new person, the discovery of a new idea, the (soppy I know) creation of memories. Again don’t get me wrong, you don’t always have to be up all night raving. Open-mindedness can even mean staying at home and chilling! But going back to the Jim Carrey classic Yes Man, it is in general deciding to say ‘Yes’ to a lot more. More than just the positive mental effects of enjoying your life as you find new things, it also extends your life, or at least mentally.
In that sense, I’ve always believed that life isn’t that short. Life can be pretty long, and not in a bad way. For a large part it’s quite a subjective thing. I saw a video the other day of far far right supporters in Dover fighting against ant-fascist supporters. Now I am open-minded in these senses that I try to look on either side and understand at least one point. But these far right supporters were promoting the re-popularization of Nazism, and were even doing the Hitler salutes. By spending your life dedicating yourself to such a close-minded and insensitive way of going at things your life will be a very short one, surely. I wanted to mention that but only briefly because it gets into a much larger debate of what counts as open-mindedness that I fear I do not have the brain capacity to get into!
At the end of the day there is far more out there than can be discovered, that can reinvigorate something in us or that can sway our thoughts into different ways. Looking around as much as we can with the thought that none of it is below us, above us, or just simply ‘not our kind of thing’ gives a greater sense of freedom. You can of course put up occasional walls for certain things that you’re just never going to try, but at least try to understand why people do. From skydiving, to hiking, to MMA, to the simpler things in life of going out more, socialising somewhere new. The inclusion of something that physically or mentally lifts you from your comfort zone adds a little something to you and to your life and how long and fulfilled it is. Next time you walk though the supermarket and see a foreign film with subtitles, buy it, it could become your favourite film, and it might inspire you. That person who seems nice, but who is so fundamentally different from you in many ways, talk to them, they could become your best friend and may inspire you. That historical book that details a time you know nothing about, read it, it may fascinate and … guess what… inspire you.
It is in my opinion that open-mindedness creates an ability to inspire and be inspired. What’s more is that with the creation of memories, discovery of things and meeting of new people, there’s a greater chance of endlessness in the sense that there is more of you to leave behind.
As I’ve done it the past few times and I rather enjoy finding them, here is another quote to round it all off! This one is from author and professor of biochemistry Isaac Asimov:
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”