As we grow and age and experience the world, we lose our open-mindedness. It’s generally an accepted part of life… but does it have to be?
You are the sum total of all your life’s experience. Every lesson in the classroom and at your mother’s knee. Every stolen kiss and every whispered secret. Every hand held in friendship or raised in anger. Every tear of sadness and joy.
As we learn and grow we become more sure of who we are. We establish opinions and beliefs, and cling to them like a raft floating on the tide of uncertainty and chaos that is life. As we get older, we can become more steadfast in our beliefs.
And while this can bring us a sense of assurance and comfort when we are challenged, it can also weigh us down.
Don’t get me wrong, self-confidence, self-belief and strong principals are all good things. But the older we get, the more rigid we can become in our thoughts. And when this happens, we can lose the open-mindedness we enjoyed in our early years.
As we’ll see in this post, that can be a heavier price than you may imagine. When we become more like stone and less like sponge, we can close ourselves off to exciting and edifying new experiences, whether that’s something as huge as changing our religion, or something as simple as watching a movie in a different genre.
Here are some unfortunate things that happen to us when we lose our precious open-mindedness…
We can become cynical in ways that taint our future relationships
As we get older and gain more experience, we get a greater understanding of how the world works (at least form our point of view). In the digital age, we learn about the world at an exponential rate beyond the wildest dreams of previous generations. But when what we think we know exceeds what we actually know, that’s when our outlook can grow cynical and dismissive. Cynicism is poisonous in all sorts of ways. It can convince you that you already know every possible outcome in a new situation, causing you to eschew new experience.
If you’ve been mistreated in a relationship, it can convince you that every new relationship, however promising, is fated to end in disaster. Don’t let cynicism poison a perfectly good relationship. Allow yourself to trust and hope. You can’t love fully otherwise!
We lose the child-like sense of wonder that makes life magical
Remember what it was like to be a kid? How exciting and full of possibility the world seemed? How incredible the learning process was? You can get that back again. You just have to open your mind to the possibility of wonder. To accept that what we know collectively as a species is far from comprehensive, and that there’s so much out there to be discovered.
It’s not naive or gullible to open yourself up to new experiences. It simply means that you’re willing to be flexible in your beliefs. Do some reading into the relationship between quantum theory and telekinesis.
Treat yourself to a free psychic reading (also influenced by quantum mechanics). At the very least, it’s a fun way to spend the last days of quarantine. At best, you might just regain that feeling that you had as a kid… that anything is possible.
We become control freaks
Part of growing up is the thrill of realizing that we have more and more control over our circumstances. We can stay out later at night, learn to drive a car, eventually get our own place and achieve autonomy. But when we become adults, our relationship with control can grow less healthy, and we can try to exert it over everything and everyone.
Regaining your open-mindedness means being at peace with the fact that some things are beyond your control. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t assert yourself. But it does mean that you’ll generally be happier and less stressed.
We set a bad example for our children
Children need to retain their open-mindedness even more than we do. It’s how they make sense of the world around them, learn and grow. As Thackary said “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children”.
Your kids take everything you say as gospel and assume that you have all the answers. And while this is edifying for us, it’s also how kids inherit prejudices and rigid modes of thinking.
It’s actually very liberating to be able to tell our kids that we don’t have all the answers. And it teaches you both that learning and growing is a lifelong experience that doesn’t end at adulthood or parenthood.
Now, more than ever we need to regain our open-mindedness. Our children are counting on us to set them up for success and to leave the world a better place for them.