Life is learning; learning important information from an early age that helps us not only survive, but thrive. The greater our commitment to learning, the better global citizens we become. The most important lessons we can learn are behavioral. Those that expand our understanding of others and the behaviors we adopt in response to that knowledge and understanding. The more we strive to understand the world around us, the more we expand the boundaries of our world; our individual boundaries of perception on how broad the world truly is culturally.
How dynamic can our world become if we reach out with our minds and our hearts to not only recognize differences, but to work toward understanding why they are different. To grasp the how and why of the way they evolved through the course of history, to become the way they are now?
If we commit to this, could it diminish the mindset of hate and intolerance so rife in the world today? In my opinion, yes.
I recently read an excerpt of a work by Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck (“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” 2007), and I’m going to borrow and twist a bit the ideas she postulates about having a learning mindset to my purpose in this blog.
When we commit to model a learning mindset, we ask questions, we allow others to ask questions of us, and together we wrestle with new ideas and ways of thinking that differ from our own. It is through this wrestling match that we are able to work through the discomfort of placing ourselves in the ring of new and expanding thinking.
Don’t get me wrong, opening ourselves up to new ways of thinking doesn’t mean we lose our sense of self or our ideals. Opening our minds means that we don’t automatically throw up our fists at differing ideas or opinions. Instead of fists, it means that we open our arms to embrace alternate thinking with the intent to learn why the difference exists. Learning is absorbing and understanding new concepts, thoughts and ideas. Learning means opening our minds to embrace what’s new to us.
By embracing newness, we are able to gain knowledge and understanding. Through openness, we are able to understand differences and accept why they exist. But accepting is not adopting. Accepting is acknowledging that differences exist and that they differ from our own ways of thinking and doing. Difference is okay. Differences of opinion are only wrong or bad when one side or another decides their opinion is the only one that should exist. That way of thinking usually leads to war.
Improve your life and the lives of those around you by being open to learning about opposing points of view. Once you have the knowledge, then you can decide what that means to you and how you will respond. Being tolerant means you are confident enough in your own mind not to be intimidated by what you hear.