The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
Do you think of yourself as someone with an open mind?
Studies show that open-minded tend to be happier, more successful, and more charismatic than those who have closed themselves off. Take this short quiz to find out where you stand. Score each answer using a 3 for “often,” a 2 for “sometimes,” or a 1 for “rarely.” Add them up and see where you rank.
- I like trying new things, such as foods, restaurants, music, and activities.
- I like traveling to places I have never been.
- I’m comfortable meeting new people.
- If my parent/child wanted to marry someone outside of our race I would be supportive
- I’m respectful of people of different cultures, genders, races, sexual orientation and religions.
- I’m comfortable if I am the only person of my race in a large gathering.
- If someone is being bullied, I speak up for them
- I listen patiently to another’s viewpoint, even when I disagree
- When I hear gossip, I get the facts and make up my own mind before making a decision
- When I hear racist comments, or see racial injustice, I speak up
- I treat everyone with equal respect
- I learn about world events and believe we are all connected to some degree
- I am open to new ideas
39-33: Congratulations! You are a world citizen, with an open mind. Keep it up!
32-26: You try to keep an open mind, but might consider expanding your horizons.
25-13: You might be closing yourself off too much from the rest of the world.
Think about whether this is what you really want.
We can all learn to be more open-minded with presence and practice. Consider these six suggestions:
1. Be more approachable
Friendly individuals are attractive and likeable. Being honest, vulnerable and authentic will facilitate more genuine and lasting friendships. Your body language can be an important factor, making you look closed off or open to others. By letting people into your life, you will find it is much more fulfilling and fun!
2. Let go of your preconceptions about other people and give them a chance
We often surround ourselves with people like us, but there is a lot to gain from enlarging our social circle. Being respectful of others is the best way to receive it in return. Consider this advice from the Baha’i teachings:
When a man turns his face to God he finds sunshine everywhere. All men are his brothers. Let not conventionality cause you to seem cold and unsympathetic when you meet strange people from other countries. Do not look at them as though you suspected them of being evil-doers, thieves and boors. You think it necessary to be careful, not to expose yourselves to the risk of making acquaintance with such, possibly, undesirable people. Be kind to the strangers, whether come they from Turkey, Japan, Persia, Russia, China or any other country in the world. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 13.
3. Be more flexible and curious
By being more flexible we trust that we can handle new situations. Being flexible and curious are perfect opportunities for growth:
The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. – Albert Einstein
Be curious, not judgmental. – Walt Whitman
4. Be more trusting
When getting to know new people, first give them the benefit of the doubt. Human beings are all basically the same—in fact, we are far more alike than we are different. We share 99.9 % of our DNA. We all have insecurities, fears, talents and beauty. Focus on the positive in people and show them your best:
O children of men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 20.
5. Don’t make snap judgements, especially when it comes to people
According to BusinessInsider, people typically form a first impression within 7 seconds of meeting someone new. Therefore it takes a conscious, concerted effort to not judge hastily. Try to see each person or situation with unbiased eyes—without letting prejudice, superstition or tradition get in the way. Make your own decisions rather than listening to other’s opinions. Trust yourself once you have investigated for yourself.
… every individual member of humankind is exhorted and commanded to set aside superstitious beliefs, traditions and blind imitation of ancestral forms in religion and investigate reality for himself. Inasmuch as the fundamental reality is one, all religions and nations of the world will become one through investigation of reality. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 433.
6. See things from another perspective
Walking in another person’s shoes helps to open our minds and makes us less likely to be critical. When we judge less, we are less likely to be judged:
First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Opening your mind unlocks the door to new opportunities and experiences. If you give yourself those opportunities, you may discover a world full of miraculous possibilities you never knew existed. When you open your mind, you open your heart, and love can enter.