The Unattainable Open Mind

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By: ellieejay

Valencia was the final city on my journey to mark the completion of a chapter. Walking through an intersection in Valencia I happened to come across someone I didn’t think I’d see for years. Glancing up to see a tall man with a look of confusion at the building he was standing in front of, I was ecstatic to see such a familiar face in a foreign city. I cheerfully shouted his name as I ran up to greet my favorite professor from college. I couldn’t believe we happened to run into each other in Spain out of all places! Since I missed my graduation ceremony due to longer semesters in Europe, it was an amazing surprise that felt meant to be. We both truly had no idea the other was in Valencia!

We caught up the next day and one topic we talked about was how trying to keep an open mind was one of the keys to our success: achieving our goals, setting our sights on new goals, and finding new opportunities. But how does someone achieve an open mind? This question has remained with me since then.

The open mind is not as much “unattainable” as it is unconsciously undesired. Many people think they have an open mind; however, when it comes to stretching their minds around viewpoints contrary to their chosen conformity, they revert to their original mindset. The thing is – accepting an idea or opinion doesn’t mean you agree with it.

“The mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”


Open minded people must not change their original beliefs; they must accept other beliefs exist, other beliefs are just as legitimate as their own, and there’s always more to expose themselves to out there. After all, how can you defend your argument if you don’t know what you’re defending it against?

The key open minded people have is awareness. The catch with awareness is that it’s endless. My favorite quote from my meditation practice reads as such, “Awareness and love are not so different. They can’t be created, only realized. They can’t be destroyed, only obscured.” The good news is that if you’re questioning whether you have an open mind or not, you’re already on the right path. If you aren’t constantly questioning yourself at a healthy level, some self-reflection may be in store. Engaging in new experiences and practicing humility enable you to act on what you learn. You already have the tools, put them to work. And if you stop using your tools, they will get rusty and stop working.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

Anais Nin

The “unattainable” part of an open mind is how there’s never a moment where you can say, “Wow, I’ve arrived!” It’s a regular task to question yourself and a life-long learning process that never truly ends. It may sound insurmountable, but in my opinion it’s invigorating. An open mind is like the ocean, steadfast, yet ever-evolving. Life is too long and your mind is too magnificent to waste by letting your mind wither away before your body does.

It took me a while to write this because there’s really no answer. If I thought I had the answer I’d be the farthest away from it I could be as possible. The answer lies within yourself.

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”

Malcom Forbes

Do you think you have an open mind? What do you think are the keys to having an open mind? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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43 thoughts on “The Unattainable Open Mind

  1. I don’t know who said it but you reminded me of this saying i read once “since all is void, where can the dust alight”. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Related to the idea of an open mind, I think, is being able to say “I was wrong” when you’ve opened your mind and learned something new. If you can’t admit you were wrong, maybe your mind isn’t really open.

    1. Agreed! Humility and transparency is worth way more than many realize. Accepting you were wrong leads you down the right path – the path to learning more and being “right” if you will.

    1. Realizing that unbreakable tie to humanity that we are all the same is a wonderful thing. That we aren’t in competition with each other, that we are there to help each other achieve more together in the endless cycle of evolution. Thanks for your support Betul!

  3. I very much enjoyed reading your article. The subject matter is a difficult one, yet, it was well written, well-considered, and you make some subtle if not profound points. Too good to sit and collect dust somewhere!

    1. Thank you for your support, Brian. It wasn’t easy to write about this topic in a way that doesn’t accuse people for not having an open mind, but rather inviting them to question the characteristics of an open mind. There’s always room for improvement and good thing we have ample time in our lives!

  4. Thanks for sharing!!.. how do I have an open mind, I just follow my heart… 🙂

    “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

    1. Thank you for your insight, DutchIl. Following your heart is a great characteristic of an open mind. There’s always more room for love, as it doesn’t take a piece of the “pie,” it just makes it bigger. And F. Scott Fitzgerald is a very smart man.

  5. For me, I feel like curiosity is the way to an open mind. That includes asking people who have a very different viewpoint from mine as to why they see things that way. Then I actually have to listen and pay attention – not focus on my rebuttal. Once I start down the rebuttal road, the open mind is closed.

    1. Liz, I definitely relate to the curiosity aspect of having an open mind, as the process you described you keep an open mind is actually the main way I try to keep an open mind too. Listening, paying attention, and asking critical questions have opened so many doors for me. Once you have heard the whole viewpoint from another side, then you can reflect and analyze, and decide for yourself again which viewpoint you want to keep as your own. Thank you for sharing one of your keys to having an open mind!

      1. Thank you for a well considered and eye opening post! There’s something truly magical about still having curiosity about this world – even when I don’t agree with it.

    1. I really appreciate your post and having an open mind about my article, thanks for your support! I hope it was able to shine some light on new ideas for you as well.

  6. I like the way you breakdown 3 power quotes on human nature and how so many people in this world have a closed mind. From Aristotle to Forbes not much has changed in the last 2,000 years. People generally hear or learn a miniscule amount of information, form an opinion and go with it. They seldom change their opinion, no matter what new information becomes available. The art of respectful debate (where each party actually listens and learns from each other) is almost non-existent in modern society.

    1. As crazy as it may seem, Aristotle and Forbes still have an uncanny view of human nature. It’s really an eye open to realize how much has changed, yet how much has stayed the same in the last 2,000 years. As for modern society, respectful debate is in a tragic state that we can only hope to reform…

  7. A mind open to what? There is an old saying about the mind. Garbage in and garbage out. If you are not selective in learning useful information then you will wind up with a mind full of crap with not much of importance to say. I had the good fortune of getting a good mathematical and scientific education through which I filter much of what I come across and my mind has limits beyond which it doesn’t wander much.
    I have ventured into many subjects and find morality or ethics to be the only discipline where science and math is not that helpful. I have learned a lot in a qualitative and quantitative way. Go to my encyclopedic blog at and search by keyword to find something which may interest you. Happy hunting. Best wishes. Uldis

    1. Hi Uldis, thanks for reading my post and for your comment. Having a scientific and mathematical background seems like it must help you filter lots of illogical “particles” that come across you everyday. Although I have a psychology and business background, I still rely on logic and truths to guide me in my everyday life. I checked out your page and it’s filled with lots of topics I’m passionate about which I’ll read more into later. Also, I noticed three images on wolves on your homepage which happens to be my favorite animal! I’ll exit by leaving one of my favorite quotes, “The wolf who wins is the wolf you feed.” Best, Ellen

  8. Hi, I hope my comment finds you in the best of your health and prosperity. I read your blog the unattainable open mind and I have learnt an amazing thing that to have an open mind means ability to accept that you might be wrong and accept it. Considering all the time that I am right is lack of an open mindedness.

    1. Hi Uzma, thanks for your thoughtful insights! I’m more than pleased to hear you enjoyed my post and left you with a different point of view. I completely agree that having an open mind means you won’t always be right you must accept this. However, the beautiful thing is that acknowledging you’re wrong leads you down the right path, the path to a greater point of view! Thanks again, Ellen. Namaste!

  9. This is really a great question and I believe that I have a pretty open mind, more and more each day I find myself as you say, becoming aware of new ideas, not abandoning my own ideas or opinions, but accepting that other ideas and opinions exist and there one being right or wrong truly depends on what perspective one is looking from… I really enjoyed this, thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for your support I am glad you enjoyed my post. It’s ironic how almost anything depends on the perspective one is looking from. Best! -Ellen

  10. This is a really great post. You have a very perceptive take on the issue. It’s also something that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately.

    I hope that I have an open mind. I’m not entirely sure. I do find myself making knee-jerk judgments from time to time. But I try to think things through and not be judgmental as opposed to being judging. I consider the latter to be necessary to getting through life in one piece emotionally and physically.

    In my favor, I’ve always opted for the position of agreeing to disagree as some people put it. Only I can think like me. I can’t expect other people to think like me. They’re not me. 🙂

    1. Hi Dianne, Thank you for sharing your thoughts! The part that really resonated with me was the “latter,” and even more literally a ladder as well. You can’t get to the top or where you want to be without starting at the beginning and taking small steps from there. Thanks for reading! <3 Ellen

  11. I don’t think that open minded people have awareness. I would probably prefer to say that aware people are open minded but that probably isn’t the case also.

    I appreciate the sentiment though.

    1. I think you’re missing the point here. To be open minded you must be aware of the things around you; otherwise, you stay narrow minded and fail to expand your way of thinking. Open mindedness and awareness go hand in hand. Also, your argument is like saying 2 + 3 = 5, but 3 + 2 doesn’t equal 5. I appreciate the effort though and I am always open to critique.

  12. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Reminds me of what one of my teachers once said, :There’s only one Earth but millions of worlds.”

    1. Thanks for reading Jacent, and thanks for sharing that quote which I love. I’ve never heard it put in that way before but it’s so true. There are millions of worlds inside people’s heads which is pretty hard to fathom considering I’m trying to comprehend everything in my own world and how I see things. Thanks again! -Ellen

  13. Nice post…I like your writing style and totally agree with the importance of an open mind…even more so an open heart…as actually our hearts are more intelligent that our minds 😉 Sonya

    1. Hi Sonya, thanks for reading and I love what you said about our hearts. Our inherent intuition and heart’s intelligence surpass our minds intelligence by a long shot. Thanks for that reminder 🙂

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