Feb 262011
Closed Mind by Jimmy Changa

I have been watching Seasons 1 and 2 of Fringe for the past few weeks. Given my love for science fiction thrillers and the bizarre, it is not surprising that the show has me hooked. But what I really love is how the show encourages you to have an open mind. No matter how strange or far-fetched an idea may seem, the answer to a crime often lies in “the impossible.” Watching Fringe is a constant reminder of the need for me to view the impossible as possible.

The Limitations of a Closed Mind

As I was growing up, I learned to accept what people told me. It was taboo to challenge the opinion of your elders in an Asian society. When I did, there was always a nasty flare up and soon I learned to tow the line. But in doing so, this very acceptance became my boundary in thought and life. It closed my mind off to new ideas that did not make sense to the majority of the people around me. Over time, it limited my beliefs and became my comfort zone.

Many of us have fixed ideas and assumptions about the world around us. This is necessary if we wish to go about our daily lives. We simply do not have the time and energy to challenge every assumption we face. Yet assumptions are a doubled-edged sword. The danger is that we get so used to them that we close our minds off to any new idea that challenges our beliefs and views. Even if our beliefs are limiting and unhelpful, we cling to them because they are familiar. It is very hard for us leave our comfort zones. Here we have a problem. Instead of helping us, our assumptions might just end up causing us harm in a crisis.

Closed Mind 2 by StillSearc

The Dangers of a Closed Mind

The wrong assumptions can easily lead to the loss of many lives. During World War II, the British made such a fatal mistake. Despite reports to the contrary, the British commanders in Singapore refused to believe that the Japanese would invade by land. Instead, they clung to the belief that the attack would come from the sea. In the end, the Japanese did indeed invade by land. This surprise, which should not have been a surprise, took the British by surprise. By the time the British scrambled to adjust their plans, it was too late. Error followed error and the British surrendered despite superior numbers. The fall of Singapore became the worst disaster in British history.

The only limits that we have in life are the limits we choose to accept. If we believe something to be so, it will be so. These self-imposed limits become our boundaries. Everything that exists outside of these limits is impossible to us. Not only does a closed mind make us vulnerable due to the blind spots, it also stifles creativity. This can be fatal when the stakes are high.

Impossible is a State of Mind

I used to think that it was impossible to foresee the outcome of events before they happened. But this view did not arise from personal experience. Instead, I assumed it was so because others said so. As a result, I spent a large part of my life reacting to events that blindsided me. But when I learned divination for myself, my world changed. I gained the ability to make better choices and to pre-empt problems before they happened. What was impossible became possible for me.

Impossible is a state of mind; what is impossible today may not be so tomorrow. What is impossible for us may not be so for others. This means that nothing is impossible if we know how to do it. To think otherwise will prevent us from finding a solution. Take flying for example. In the past, man could not fly. To make such a suggestion then would have made a person look stupid. But because some people refused to believe that flying was impossible, it is possible today. In fact, flying is so common that we take it for granted. The impossible has become the possible. When new changes or ideas become the accepted norms for us, we have greater options at our disposal. Today, we can travel by land, sea or air. In the future, space travel might become common for the masses.

Open Minds by Ame Otoko

How to Keep an Open Mind

While we may prefer the tried and true, sometimes it is not enough. When this happens, we have no choice but to consider other options. Here having an open mind helps. A saying goes that it is insane to keep trying the same thing and yet expect different results. Impossible is really a matter of perspective. Nothing is impossible; we just have not found the means to make it possible. If that is so, how can we keep an open mind when it matters?

-Assume the impossible is possible and act accordingly
-List your assumptions, then challenge and reverse them
-Step out of our comfort zones occasionally and try new ideas
-Always, ask “what if” and “how”
-Test a new idea by preparing for the worst and hoping for the best
-Try a different perspective

Taking Action

Keeping an open mind is not always easy. But for every idea we close our minds to, we limit the options we have. In times of crisis, it is always best to have as many alternatives as possible. To paraphrase the words of Dr Walter Bishop, “When you open your mind to the impossible, sometimes you find the answer.”

How do you keep an open mind when you face ideas that are alien to your views and beliefs? Do you have any other ideas about having an open mind? Do share your thoughts and comments below. :)

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  19 Responses to “Opening the Mind to the Impossible”

  1. Irving,

    The title of this post immediately attracted my attention. I like how you explored the dangers of living with a closed mind. It’s not easy to have a fresh mind. I’ve always liked the quote from Suzuki Roishi that goes something like this – In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few. Staying in the present moment – as best we can – I feel is the best way to keep the mind fresh and open to all the impossibilities.

    Thanks for writing on this important topic. Life would be so different if we had open minds!
    Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..6 Meaningful Links for Personal GrowthMy Profile

    • Hi Sandra,

      I had many encounters with closed minds and there are occasions when I forget myself and close my mind as well. Writing this article is a reminder to myself to keep my mind open. The quote from Suzuki Roishi is apt and sums up what I am saying in my article nicely. I agree with you, staying in the present moment is a great way to keep our minds fresh. If we all had open minds, the world would be a vastly different place. You and I might not recognize it.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  2. that’s a very nice post , thank you for sharing it

  3. Great post. A closed mind cannot grow. We have to open our hearts and mind to the world around us. Limited thinking creates limited results. We must, become more!
    jonathanfigaro recently posted..Do You Have FamilyMy Profile

    • Hi Jonathan,

      Indeed, a closed mind is pretty much stagnant. How can anything grow if it refuses nourishment? If we adhere only to what we know or are familiar with, we will get limited results as you say.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  4. Interesting content friend. Our everyday lives partially concerns this and open minds can help a great deal. Thanks for sharing.
    cindy recently posted..8 Suggestions On How To Be Successful BloggingMy Profile

    • Hi Cindy,

      Having an open mind can do wonders for our everyday lives. We will be more open to opportunities that come our way. At the very least, we will have more options to work with.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  5. I still have the long, detailed email from an “expert” telling me how it would be impossible for me to adopt the girl I had met in the orphanage in China. So many reasons. So many uses of the words impossible and never. A year later I brought her home!

    I’ve never had much respect for people telling me it is impossible for me to do something. There is often a way no one has thought of yet.

    Sometimes, it is impossible, but isn’t that easier to accept if you have exhausted all avenues?
    Galen Pearl recently posted..When Its Right to be RightMy Profile

    • Hi Galen,

      I love the story you shared! Often, it is so easy to assume “experts” know better than us and give up when they tell us something is impossible. I am not suggesting that experts are always wrong, just pointing out that they are human like us and can make mistakes or they may not have considered certain solutions. What we should do is to take every opinion with a pinch of salt and decide for ourselves. By bringing home your adopted daughter from China, you have clearly shown that nothing is impossible if you keep an open mind.

      I agree with you fully. Nothing is impossible. If it is so, we just have not thought of a way around an obstacle yet. And even despite our best efforts, if it does prove to be impossible in the end, at least we have no regrets because we fought the good fight and gave it our all.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  6. Hi Irving, I used to have a button that said, “Minds are like parachutes – they function best when open.” I think that’s 100% true.

    Your post reminds me of a video by Peter Diamandis (of X Prize fame). He said that if you want to invent a new technology, get a bunch of 25 year olds in a room together who don’t know what’s impossible. They will find the solution faster than a bunch of “experts” who have closed their minds to so many options.

    That’s a good example of flying being thought impossible for hundreds of years. One day it was not. If you asked me in 1990 if I could put the internet and a phone in a small device that fit in my pocket, I would think that was crazy, but now we have it. :)
    Jennifer Barry recently posted..10 Keys to a Successful RelationshipMy Profile

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I love the quote on that button you used to have. We should always have a message like this around to remind us of the possibilities that having an open mind brings.

      I agree fully with Peter Diamandis. Experts and veterans can be so set in their ways that they cannot think out of the box. This is probably why the younger generation outdoes the older generation with its creativity. The youngsters simply do not know what is impossible.

      Who knows what other amazing feats we will see during our lifetime? I am hoping for the space elevator to become a reality. :D

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  7. I have been opening my mind to more and more possibilities in the recent years. It’s amazing what I’ve discovered! So yes, I agree with what you’ve brilliantly shared in your post.

    Did you rent Seasons 1 and 2 from the video store? Because I caught it somewhere in the middle, I don’t even know from which season I had watched episodes from. The run that I followed for a while ended on TV last year. I guess if I am keen, I’d need to find out. Most certainly, I’ve enjoyed Fringe too!!

    Just to share, I have been watching Nicklelodeon animated “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series. I finally got to finish Book 3 as of last week! If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend the series. My kids and I can be watching the same episode like 2-3 times. You’d like it because it is built around the four elements of fire, water, earth and air and the concept of “qi”.
    Evelyn Lim recently posted..7 Winning Life Tips from Top Financial AlchemistsMy Profile

    • Hi Evelyn,

      It great to hear about the positive experiences you have had with an open mind. :)

      Hahah, work aside, nope I did not rent Seasons 1 and 2 from the video store. Both seasons belong to my brother so I borrowed them to watch. I believe you can get Seasons 1 and 2 from the video store. I know I have seen them myself at respectable ones. You may have been watching Season 2 I suspect, especially if it is about bringing Peter back from the other side.

      No I have not watched Avatar. I did not have a good impression of the movie. But since you recommend it so highly, I might just check it out myself. The concept of the 4 elements and qi does appeal to me. Also, I need something new which I have not watched or read about.

      Thank you for your lovely comments and recommendations! :)

  8. Hi Irving,
    I agree with you Irving. Having an open mind will take you much farther than someone with a mind closed to possibility. You always hear about the mega-millionaire who did something that most people would have thought was impossible and when this person is interviewed you always hear the same sorts of things from them. They’ll tell you that they had no idea it was “impossible,” and that they just conceived of doing this thing and did it! So, I truly believe in having an open mind and not listening to the “experts.” Thank you for writing about this important topic.
    Angela Artemis recently posted..The Miracle That is Sahaja Yoga MeditationMy Profile

    • Hi Angela,

      Always good to see you around! :D

      I love your example of the mega-millionaire who did the impossible. It’s true that when one is unaware of what is impossible, they are likelier to accomplish it. Where we are today as human beings and all that we have accomplished as a species is proof of that.

      Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  9. Hi Irving,

    Great post! My mind is already blown way open by life. Lucky me. :-)

    I just had to say my husband and I discovered Fringe recently and are hooked too! Only partway thru season one, but there’s a DVD with more episodes calling my name as we speak.

    P.S. I am adding you and your wonderfully open mind to my blogroll. I can keep better track of you that way. ;-)
    Patti Foy | Lightspirited Being recently posted..Timely Tidbits- Magnify the Support of Natural CyclesMy Profile

    • Hi Patti,

      I admire how you are so open to life and the impossible. You must have seen and experienced a lot of unusual things given your vast knowledge and experience.

      Hehe. Yeah Fringe is a great show. I love the line it walks between the possible and the impossible. If you enjoyed season one, I know you will love season two!

      Thank you for your lovely comments and for adding me to your blogroll. I appreciate it greatly! :)

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