Meeting new people for some adults or children can be an anxious moment. Teaching them to meet others with confidence and open to learning about a new person will have a positive effect on them for life. It is said that when we meet someone that both of us decide if we are equal to, less than or greater than the other person. Can you imagine being judged that quickly? It is important for us to put forth our best in the very beginning.
In addition to teaching a child how to introduce themselves with a good handshake, standing up straight and tall, looking the person in the eye we need to help them be open-minded about the person they are meeting. What a shame it would be if we were to fall into the trap of prejudging a person based on what they look like or what we think they may be able to do for us? In fact, being unwilling to have a conversation with a person that may see the world from a different viewpoint inhibits our personal growth.
Opening our minds up to meeting new people, talking with them, learning from them and experiencing their friendship makes us a complete person. When we are open to the culture and diverse groups that surround us, we become richer as a person, and we can enjoy life to a greater degree. It creates the possibility of peaceful connections, as all individuals across the globe and in all neighborhoods desire to be treated with dignity and have a connection with others.
Listening to new ideas, ways of looking at issues or a different way of thinking is what open-mindedness is all about. The way we learn and expand our thinking is not by talking, but rather by listening. Being open may get our creative juices flowing, or we may see issues from a different point of view that helps us grow our empathy or compassion. We are open to developing, even if in the end we do not agree with the new idea.
Change in the ways we do or see new things is difficult for most people. We can get comfortable with the way things are or afraid of the unknown. It is the unknown, uncomfortable feeling that creates the opportunity for growth. We have seen this be true in technology, science, society and our personal life.
As difficult as change is for some of us others are very quick to latch on to the newest and ‘greatest’ thing coming around, without giving much thought to the ultimate outcomes or results. The driving force between these two personalities is the need to have either certainty or uncertainty or variety in our lives. The need for certainty says I am not ready to hear or change. The need for variety asks us to find new, exciting things often. Neither is right or wrong, good or bad.
Herein lies the balance we need to strike between not being open to new ideas or going after every new idea. Both require balancing the need of certainty or uncertainty with open-mindedness tempered with discernment, tolerance, and honesty about who we are and what we value the most. The idea of open-mindedness calls for us to be discerning and genuine to who we are at our core.
Helping our children gain that balanced approach becomes easier when they see us adults listen with an open mind, learning new ways of doing things and trying new activities without determining ahead of time they are good or bad.
Open-mindedness is about listening, learning, and trying new things without having made up our minds that it is good or bad ahead of time. We use our mind to come to a conclusion. I imagine every parent has gone through the experience of a child refusing to eat food they have not tried. They decided ahead of time that they would not like it. Their refusal was based on a fear that it would not taste good.
All of us have been skeptical to try a new activity because we were “sure” we would not be successful, we would get hurt or afraid of being embarrassed. However, when we practice open-mindedness we open ourselves to new experiences that may prove to be of interest or even enjoyable. Having unbiased new experiences increases our understanding and may broaden our preferences.
In the diverse world we live in, being open-minded to the traditions and cultures of others is an important way of creating peaceful relationships. We may begin by learning about and trying different foods or celebrations of friends and neighbors. The goal is tolerance, acceptance, respect and appreciation for our differences.
While children are naturally more open-minded it is our job as adults to set the example and not allow our biases to thwart our willingness to listen, learn and try new things. As a parent, we must be open-minded to the differences that our children bring to us. They have their natural ways that are unique to them. When we are open to learning about those differences we are providing them the dignity they deserve and we can see areas that they can work on to balance their natural and strong gifts.
Each month we will discuss one life skill with all of our students. This month’s skill is Open-Mindedness. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.
Young students: Open-mindedness means: I listen, learn and try before I decide!
Older students: Open-mindedness means: To listen, learn and try without prejudice.
We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers and students to reach that goal.
This time of the year we are reminded that there are many different holidays being celebrated and we become aware of different cultures. As I sat thinking about being open minded, accepting others for who they are and what they practice in their lives. There is a quote from Marianne Willliamson who said, ” You must master a new way to think, before you can master a new way to be.” Embracing differences, being open to differences and learning to appreciate and in fact love those who are different is key to creating a peaceful world.
It is interesting how down through history the leaders of the world in whatever time frame that they lived have conjolled and told people who, what and when to hate different cultures. For the most part most people have followed the lead of those promoting this concept of hatred. If we had been alive in the 1750’s we would have been told to hate the French and the American Indians, but 25 years later it was okay to stop hating the French and now it was time to hate the British. If we go down through history we are repeatedly told whom we should hate and fear, changing every so often.
What would be a more peaceful way of approaching life would be to recognize that the enemy that we really have is not being open minded and having fear and hatred bound up in us. When each of us individually and with others removes hatred and fear, being closed to new ideas and ways, and opens to creating peace, love, joy in our own lives, we will begin to create a culture of peace in the entire world.
Say to yourself, “I refuse to collaborate with the energy of hatred, I am an instrument of peace.” Being open minded is beginning step in our process to inner and world peace.”
Teaching our children how to appropriately be introduced to someone that they do not know, learn to shake hands, look them in the eye and speak clearly is all part of training them to be assertive and to have good presence upon introduction. In fact it is said that within 10 seconds of meeting a new person, an individual determines if they are equal to, or more / less than the person they are meeting.
Just as important to our initial contact though is our being open minded about the person we are meeting. If we “judge a book by its cover”, we may be closing off an opportunity to get to know some interesting, thought provoking and awesome individuals. Pre-judging others does not allow us to get to know them and their story. Imagine seeing someone that does not look like you, they may seem different in other ways too, yet when you meet them and get to talk you discover that they are more like yourself than you would have imagined. This happens all the time. Do you remember the woman pictured here and her angel like voice.
I would like to tell you about a parent that I barely knew – because we had never talked. In fact our conversations were very short, they never took their sunglasses off and I felt like this parent just didn’t like me. That was OK, but I was determined to continue to be pleasant. Then one day the conversation was returned and we spoke at length and soon I found out that the reason the sunglasses stayed on and conversations were short was because of an almost constant migraine style headache they had suffered from for years. Yet they continued on with life in the best way possible.
Here is what I learned. First you never know the story behind the person till you give them a chance. Second, it is not about YOU. I could see how quick I was to impugn bad personality traits on someone when I really did not know the whole situation. The lesson is: Be Open Minded when meeting someone.