Unlocking the Mind

woman in blue denim jacket carrying baby in orange and white shirt

A growth mindset is a big deal these days, and it’s something The Pacific Institute has been teaching people how to attain for 50 years. Growth mindset easily equates to an “open” mind, and a fixed mindset equates to a “closed” mind. Today let’s explore the differences between open and closed, what each does and doesn’t offer.

Open minds are a bit like a good sense of humor – everybody thinks they have one, but the truth may be another story. And what does it mean to have an open mind, anyway? Well, here is one description: An open mind is one that knows the difference between fact and opinion and doesn’t get them mixed up. It searches for the truth as best it can, and even when it feels reasonably certain of what is true, remains open to rational argument.

Open minds tend to be creative, because they seek out options and use them in innovative ways. The open mind is able to flow with the ambiguities and paradoxes of life. Instead of fighting these things, the open mind acknowledges and honors them and moves forward into awareness and constructive use of them.

The closed mind, on the other hand, learns helplessness when it assumes a powerless stance. Even when it is closed in the supposed force of certainty, it gives away its power. Thinking it is exhibiting strength, the closed mind becomes rigid and develops blind spots to new information that may contradict what it thinks it knows. To defend itself, the closed mind locks itself away and looks no further than what it already has stored as its truth.

Open minds may choose to take a position based on personal values and current information, but they are willing to reconsider if it makes sense to do so. Finally, open minds typically are happier, healthier and much more fun to be around. They tend to think of life as an adventure, and find the possible in every day. Challenges become opportunities to learn and grown.

So, let’s ask the question again: Do you have an open mind? How do you know?