How To Grow an Open Mind

“I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”

Benedict Spinoza, A Political Treatise, 1677

“The important events of a person’s life are the products of chains of highly improbable occurrences.”

Joseph Traub, “Traub’s Law,” 2003

326 years separate these quotes, one stating a commitment to reserve judgement, because quick judgements limit understanding, the other gives us a good reason why everyone who is doing well in life should give others who are not doing as well the benefit of a doubt when it comes to what they deserve. Still they work well together. People who judge others quickly and say they owe all of their success to hard work are not to be trusted by anyone who values an intelligent approach to life. We all depend on chains of improbability in order to get where we are going, and in order to deal with people in a fair and honest way, we must keep an open mind. Not everyone will behave the way you or I think they should, but that does not mean they are wrong. They may be mistaken, but it is wise to look at there actions without bias. In many cases there is no right answer just answers we are comfortable with. Getting beyond bias is one of the hardest things to accomplish. Bias is built into the way we function efficiently in the world,  but just the effort will give you insight into your own life that will leave you open to the broader expanse of human experience. Little by little you will learn to question your automatic reactions to events and people, and your understanding of the workings of the world will grow.

Open minds expand. Set your brain free. Allow two questions or more to linger in the same space in your mind at the same time. When something upsets you, ask what is really going on and come up with as many answers as you can. If someone says something you violently disagree with, think about why they said it and try to answer  as if another person was explaining it to you, maybe someone who likes what was said. Even if you still disagree just as violently, you are gathering valuable information. In order to develop an effective strategy against mistaken ideas you have to understand well the fears and hopes of those who hold on tightly to those ideas, as well as a thorough understanding of the weaknesses and power of the ideas themselves. The more you can separate the idea from the people who believe in it the better you can effectively argue your point of view. Question ideas you like as well and the people who espouse them. Blindly following ideas that seem right without looking them over from all angles can take you where you don’t want to go. Separate people  from their ideas even if you like them. Some very nice people can be very mistaken.

Ponder things you think you know until you are not sure, then start your investigation. There will be a time to move, but it is best to have a few paths to choose from and an open mind to steer with. This will open your life to wonderful improbabilities you never would have dreamed of otherwise.

This entry was posted in All part of the process, mindworks, Other peoples words, paying attention, philosophy, Questions and riddles, Self-Experiments, thinking in words and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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