2 Key Ingredients to Help Change Your Mind

change your mind

A key piece of being a better person is knowing when and how to re-think your beliefs and change your mind. Because the world is always changing, and our ideas, understanding, and knowledge have to change along with it. That’s why today we’re talking about how to determine what old beliefs might be in need of an update, and what to do about it.

You’re reading the transcript of an episode of the How to Be a Better Person podcast. If you’d rather listen, click the play button below.

Listen to the Podcast Here

There are two things that will help you change your mind:

  • Curiosity
  • Humility

(Today’s episode was inspired by a listener named Chris, who DM’d me on Twitter to suggest this topic.} 

Letting go of old ways of thinking isn’t easy to do

After all, a lot of the things we’ve learned have been hard won; we earned that knowledge. Shouldn’t we hold on to it forever so that we don’t have to learn it all over again? Also, life seems so much easier when you are confident about your beliefs, and that you know right from wrong. 

But it’s no coincidence that “right” and “righteous” are so closely related. That confidence can harden into judgment, disdain, and even hatred of people who think differently than you. 

And, let’s face it, nobody likes to be wrong. Especially about something that you’ve believed for so long, that maybe it’s even become part of your identity. 

But Adam Grant, organization psychologist, professor at Wharton School of Business and author of the book Think Again, says: “The discovery of being wrong is the point at which we learn.” 

I love that quote because it flips the idea that being wrong is bad on its head, doesn’t it? Because it’s exhilarating to let go of old ideas that have been calcifying in your mind. It’s like transplanting a plant that’s gotten root bound because it needs a bigger container. 

Even if there’s some pain in acknowledging that you put a lot of stock in something that turned out to not be the complete truth, pretty soon those roots start to expand outward in your mind and that new spaciousness feels really good. It opens up a lot of new possibilities that you just couldn’t see before, and that is always exciting.  

I’ve two key ingredients to share with you that will help you figure out what might be due for a re-think. 

Curiosity 

To be curious is to acknowledge that there’s more to understand, and that’s a crucial step. It’s also a courageous step, because it forces you to admit that you aren’t all-knowing, and that can be a hard thing for us mortals to admit. 

To implement curiosity, ask yourself:

What might I be missing? 

What haven’t I considered? 

What assumptions am I making? 

Why do I assume that? 

Is it possible there’s more to this than I am assuming? 

Humility

Acknowledging that there are many things you don’t know, including things you don’t know that you don’t know. 

Humility is what will help you take whatever privilege might be coloring your view out of the equation.

It also enables you to also ask: 

How might someone who is different demographic than I am see this? 

What do the people who have the most to lose, or the most at stake on this issue have to say about it? 

We seek out second opinions when we’re trying to decide what medical course of action to take. Letting go of old ideas is basically forming your own second opinion. 

I find it helpful to think about re-thinking like being a lifelong learner. It means you’re committed to continuing to expose yourself to new information and ideas and incorporate them into your worldview and mindset. So re-thinking is just something you do, and plan on continuing to do for the rest of your life. 

Here’s another way to think about it:

When I did my yoga teacher training in New York City just about 20 years ago now–I cannot believe that that statement is even possible!–our teachers gave us an empty tea cup as graduation gifts, and they told us to always keep a good portion of our tea cup empty. Because if a cup is full, no more tea can get in. But if you always leave some space in your cup for new tea to come in, your tea stays hot. Letting go of old ideas is how you leave room for reconsidering and refining what you know to be to true. It’s how your mind stays fresh and your heart stays open. 

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to think about something that maybe you had a disagreement about recently. Or that you had a big reaction to when you heard or read about it. And then tap into your humility enough to recognize that maybe there’s an old idea floating around in that beautiful noggin of yours that might be taking up too much space. Remind yourself that you aspire to be at least a semi-empty tea cup, and then get curious. Ask those questions I mentioned: 

What might I be missing? 

What haven’t I considered? 

What assumptions am I making? 

Why do I assume that? 

Is it possible there’s more to this than I am assuming? 

How might someone else see this thing? 

And how would someone who affected the most by this idea be likely to feel about it? 

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow when I’m talking about how to let go of expectations. 

katepodcast

Want to be a better person, but don’t know where to start?

My new daily podcast, How to Be a Better Person, is here to help by sharing one simple thing you can do in the next 24 hours to rise. My mission? To help you live your best life.

Subscribe on iTunes Get podcast news

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.