Stuck in a rut? Does your career feel a bit stale? Got cobwebs on the brain? Maybe it’s time for a jolt of open-mindedness.
American inventor and businessman, Charles Kettering said, “People are very open-minded about new things – as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.” We may not be as open-minded as we think we are; our brains may not be as flexible as they once were. Is it time for you to take a good brain stretch to get out of a thinking rut and into an open mind?
Openness to change and new experiences is considered by most psychologists to be one of five major measurments of our personality. The degree to which a person needs intellectual stimulation, change, and variety determines a lot about their success or failure in a given situation. A very low need or tolerance for new experiences can lock us into stagnation. It’s a bad idea to ride through everyday life in a mental cruise control. Open-mindedness and openness to new experiences allows us to evolve and become more successful.
So, how do we dust the cobwebs from our brain and become more open-minded? How do we push ourselves to be open to more experiences, intellectual stimulation, and change? Scouring my library and consulting the masters, I found four areas to focus on to help us flex our brain and open our minds.
#1 Read or Listen to Something Motivational, Inspirational or Educational Every Single Day
An old proverb says, “If you always think the way you’ve always thought, you’ll always get what you’ve already got.” If we want to improve our life we’ve got to change the way we think. If we want to have more, we’ve got to be more, and to be more, you’ve got to think new things. In order to change our thinking we’ve got to add new information to our brain. Reading something motivational, inspirational or educational for at least 30 minutes every day will help to fill our brains with new, positive information that stretches our mind and improves our thinking. If 30 minutes a day scares you off, start out with just 10-15 minutes a day of reading or listening to something uplifting.
#2 Use Your Imagination to Solve at Least One Problem Every Day
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” He reminded us that logic will get us from A to B, but imagination will take us everywhere. As adults we tend to stop using our imagination and we rely on hard facts and proof. We fail to see the word through inquisitive, new eyes. Stretching our imagination muscle every single day opens our mind and helps us see new solutions to problems. Using our imagination doesn’t mean we have to come up with a perfect solution to a problem; it just means that we have to imagine a creative, possibly crazy way to solve a problem. We shouldn’t be afraid of solutions that we once labeled as “far-fetched” because sometimes the outright crazy thought leads us to the perfect solution. And, remember, all of the greatest new ideas in the world, at one point, were labeled crazy by main stream thinkers.
#3 Reflect and Find A Better Way Every Day
We have habits and patterns that are comfortable but probably aren’t right. We have routine responses and reactions to everyday challenges and obstacles. To open our mind and escape our rut, it’s helpful to reflect on our day and review what we’ve done. Then, we should challenge ourselves to find a better way to have done it. Could our response to a family member or co-worker have been more diplomatic? Could our road rage on the drive home been toned down with a better attitude? Could we have been slightly more dedicated to our goal to eat healthier? Every night take time to reflect on the day and name one thing that you could have done just a tiny bit better. Learn from your moment of reflection.
#4 Feel Some Fear Or Discomfort Every Day
Again, an old proverb reminds us, “If you want something that you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something that you’ve never done.” To break a brain-numbing routine, every day we need to do something we’ve never done. We need to feel a little bit of fear or discomfort. Push yourself to walk a little farther or run a little faster. Take a new route to work. Volunteer to take on a new project. Offer to give a presentation or teach a class. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Nobel prize winning author Andre Gide wrote, “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” At the end of every day ask yourself, “Was I uncomfortable today, and did I embrace it or did I turn and run?” Learn to invite and embrace a bit of discomfort every day.
Gina Covell Maddox coaches individuals and teams, and presents keynotes and training programs across the U.S, Canada and the Caribbean on career, communication, and leadership skills. She is the author ofThe Working Woman’s Rant & Rave Guidebook: Audacious Advice for Handling Everyday Workplace Challenges That Make You Want to Scream.