The Power of Keeping an Open Mind

Joan Marques - MBA, Doctoral Student
Burbank, California

A mind that is fast is sick. A mind that is slow is sound. A mind that is still is divine --Meher Baba.

Given the statistically proven fact that we are all guilty - to some extent - of branding others with a rapidly working mind, during the first 5 to 20 seconds that we see them, we may start questioning our mental health, according to Meher Baba's statement above. Perceived within that light, it seems silly to even consider discussing the topic of keeping an open mind. After all, an open mind indicates that we should eliminate our prejudices, and only form careful conclusions after thorough exposure to the subject of our attention. It also indicates that we withhold ourselves from making the vulgar mistake of letting "the eye see[] only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." (Henri L. Bergson) Yet, even when we do take our time to form a careful opinion, should we leave enough space for adjustments to this mental picture, since all living creatures are constant subject to change.

The point of maintaining an open mind may best be illustrated by holding a psychological mirror in front of ourselves, while asking, don't we realize that we are continuously changing? That every new experience influences our thinking and reactions from that moment on? That we are all subject to mood swings and a natural process of maturing - one faster than the other - And - perhaps most shockingly - that some of us may never really get to know ourselves? Whether you think that sounds ridiculous or not, many great thinkers have brought it up before, like Goethe, who stated, "'Know thyself?' If I knew myself, I'd run away." If we understand all of the above about ourselves, it should not be hard to conclude that others may also have been - and are still - going through their share of changes.

How beautiful could it be if we would all be able to live up to Charles Berners' following description:

"An individual who is "Mind Clear" is not under the influence of any impressions that are in the mind and can therefore perceive things as they actually are. He doesn?t have any fixed attitudes. He has the ability to adopt any attitude or viewpoint that he chooses, or not. He can be in any viewpoint or attitude including anger, irritation, upset, etc., but he's not stuck in them. They don't run his life. They don't hold influence over the individual. He doesn't go on and on in some inappropriate fashion to persevere with an attitude. He has more freedom of action, thought, approach; and freedom of relating with people than ever before. This is a significant step on the road to true liberation."

It may require some mental digging, but try to remember a time when you got disappointed in someone whom you initially thought the world of - simply because of something he or she said, did, or lacked to say or do? Or, on a positive note: think of the person that pleasantly surprised after a rather weak and dull first impression!

Whether the abovementioned situations have actually occurred in your life or not, they're not unthinkable. The mere fact that "surprise" is an existing word in our vocabulary should be a major indication to us that we should allow surprises to happen! Changing your mind should be regarded just as normal as changing anything else. After all, "If you never change your mind, why have one?" (Edward De Bono)

By establishing prejudices we disable the natural process of being surprised. This may be our "civilized" way of controlling ourselves and the situations or people we deal with. However, we should also know by now that our "civilized" approach does not really fly, which is one more good reason to realize that an open mind may be all that's left for us to make sure we give each other an honest chance.

In business and management, keeping an open mind can lead to the most profitable outcomes, as this would imply that we mastered the greatness to stop underestimating co-workers, competitors, and partners, and anticipate full potential in and from everyone. This could result in pleasant and profitable partnerships, which would not have existed if we had strangled our judgments with negative preconceptions.

In personal situations, keeping an open mind can save relationships, because we would realize that not everything might be what it seems, and that people are like icebergs: they usually hide the greatest surprises under the surface. It's only when we keep an open mind, that these surprises can evolve into a multi-dimensional, deep, and beautiful relationship.

An open mind is a powerful tool that may be hard to obtain, given the fact that we all grow up with certain biases, cultural baggage, and deeply rooted beliefs. Yet, the more our spirit matures, the greater our mind's potential becomes -- and the more room will be created for receptiveness. Don't be the fool that was described in the following quote, "Some minds are like concrete, all mixed up and permanently set." Instead, strive to master an open mind - and the world will show you its dimensions.


  • Berner, C. (2002, Mon 8 April 2002). Quotes about mind clearing, [On-line]. Core Connection. Available: ABOUT MIND CLEARING.html [2002, May 29].
  • Various. (1999). TCPN - Great Quotations (Quotes) To Inspire And Motivate You, [On-line]. Cyber Nation International, Inc. Available: [2002, May 29].