Explore Your Potential – September

Explore Your Potential – September 1000 846 The Flyer Magazine



With Adam Chalmers

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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