Openness: Staying curious and courageous in the face of change

Explore the transformative power of openness. Embrace curiosity, courage, flexibility and humility for personal growth and a richer life.

openness

O is for openness

Welcome back to another post in the A to Z series. In this post, we explore the concept of openness. 

In a world that often encourages us to have all the answers and protect our views, embracing openness can feel dangerous and risky. But what exactly is openness? It's not just about being receptive to new ideas or experiences; it's a mindset, a way of approaching life with curiosity, flexibility, courage and humility. In this post we explore this transformative concept and discover how it can enrich our lives in new and profound ways.

Understanding openness: a mindset of possibilities

Openness is the willingness to embrace uncertainty, to let go of preconceived notions, and to welcome new perspectives with open arms. When we're open, we approach life with a sense of adventure, eagerly exploring the unknown and learning from every encounter. 

Of course we all have our opinions and ideas and ultimately we need to make up our own minds about things. But openness allows us to take in the views of others and admit the possibility that we’re wrong or misinformed about a certain issue or topic; this gives us a chance to update our thinking and improve our ideas. It’s easy to forget that we’ve learned everything we know from other people.

The benefits of practicing openness

  1. Embracing curiosity: Curiosity is the fuel that ignites the fire of openness. When we're curious, we're constantly seeking out new knowledge, asking questions, and challenging our assumptions. This thirst for understanding propels us forward, driving innovation and personal growth.
  2. Flexibility in action: Flexibility is the hallmark of an open mind. Instead of rigidly clinging to a single viewpoint, we adapt to change with grace and resilience. By embracing flexibility, we're better equipped to navigate life's twists and turns, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth.
  3. Cultivating humility: Humility keeps us grounded on our journey toward openness. It reminds us that we don't have all the answers and that there's always room for improvement. By humbly acknowledging our limitations, we create space for growth and collaboration, fostering deeper connections with others along the way.
  4. Better decisions: Openness affords us the ability to learn and grow enabling us to make better decisions because we have new and different information available. Of course we need to test the new information to confirm it’s accurate and valid. But over time we should reach deeper understanding and this is especially useful for making decisions in complex situations (like life!) 

Exploring the new and learning: why it matters

As we journey through life, it's easy to fall into the trap of complacency, settling into a comfortable routine and resisting change. But here's the thing: life is a dynamic, ever-evolving adventure, and staying open to new experiences is the key to staying vibrant and alive.

Embracing growth:

Openness allows us to embrace the process of growth, to step outside of our comfort zones and expand our horizons. Whether it's trying a new hobby, learning a new skill, or exploring a new culture, each new experience enriches our lives and broadens our perspective.

Overcoming limiting beliefs:

As we get older, it's natural to develop more fixed views of ourselves and the world around us. But by practicing openness, we challenge those limiting beliefs, opening ourselves up to new possibilities and redefining what's possible. We pick up a lot of ideas over the course of our lives. Some ideas we discard and some we hold onto because they’re attached to how we see ourselves or our place in the world. 

These things become part of our story. Openness helps us update our view of both ourselves and the world around us, enabling us to create new stories about ourselves and our lives.

Fostering resilience:

In a world that's constantly changing, resilience is essential for navigating life's ups and downs. Openness cultivates resilience by teaching us to adapt to change with curiosity and flexibility, empowering us to overcome obstacles and emerge stronger than ever.

Openness allows us to try something new even though we’re sure the old way still works. Maybe the new way will work better. Maybe not. But without openness we’ll never know.

The dark side of openness: losing balance

While openness is undeniably powerful, it's not without its pitfalls. Blindly following others or being overly receptive to every new idea can lead us astray, diluting our sense of self and leaving us vulnerable to manipulation.

Guy Anderson

My own experience of openness

Instead of telling you how open I am I think it would be more interesting to share an example from my own life where I could have been more open. 

For 10 years I practiced Ashtanga Yoga. Most of that time I practiced the same sequence of postures over and over again. I really enjoyed the repitition and the surrender to the practice but I didn't take enough responsibility for my practice and suffered chronic backache as a result.

After moving to Sweden and becoming a father (two radical opportunitites to practice openness) I started doing strength training and running (and doing a lot less yoga) which has been great for my overall health and I no longer have chronic backache! 

My only regret is that I wasn't a bit more open sooner, and that I didn't listen to my body. It would have saved me a lot of pain.  

Practicing openness

If you’re reading this and thinking “boy! I think I could benefit from being a bit more open.”  Then here are some things you could think about on the journey towards being more open. 

Honoring our values:

To harness the power of openness, we must first understand our values and priorities. By staying true to ourselves and aligning our actions with our core beliefs, we can navigate the complexities of life with integrity and authenticity.

Discernment in action:

Discernment is the antidote to blind acceptance. It's the ability to critically evaluate information, weighing the evidence and considering the source before drawing conclusions. By honing our discernment skills, we can sift through the noise and make informed decisions that align with our values.

Setting boundaries:

Finally, setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining our sense of self in a world that's constantly vying for our attention. By establishing clear boundaries and learning to say no when necessary, we protect our energy and ensure that our openness serves us rather than depletes us.

Taking risks:

Openness is about taking risks… admitting that you don’t have all the answers and perhaps you’ll even look stupid if you don’t act like you know the answers. So why not start by taking small risks: like inviting a new friend out to lunch or asking your training partner how they keep submitting in your Jiu-jitsu class. It could be something as simple as ordering a different meal at your local restaurant. As you build up your confidence you may even come to enjoy the feeling of curiosity, of not knowing and steadily increasing your knowledge by asking questions.

Conclusion:

As we navigate the twists and turns of life, let's remember that there’s always more to learn. This can inspire us to approach each day with curiosity, flexibility, and humility.

By cultivating openness, we can unlock a world of endless possibilities and potential. Let's embrace the power of openness, trusting in its ability to enrich our lives and lead us toward a brighter, more expansive future.

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