How often is your thinking challenged in the course of a day, week, month, or year? Are you regularly exposed to ideas and opinions that differ from your own, or do you usually listen to and communicate with people who think just like you?
I enjoy podcasts and have several that I subscribe and listen to each week. Some of my favorites are the ones where the show host interviews a guest who tells about an accomplishment of theirs, and how they went about achieving it. In these interviews, people often share their ideas and beliefs. I like hearing the different thinking the guests bring because it allows me to be exposed to people and ideas that I might normally not be exposed to.
Often times, the ideas and beliefs being shared don’t align with my own thinking. This challenges me to examine my thinking and ask myself why I think the way I do about a certain topic. It’s been fun and has really expanded my thinking and ability to better articulate why I hold the thoughts and beliefs that I do or don’t hold.
It’s easy to dismiss someone or something that you don’t initially agree with, but I’ve often found that when I stop and listen with the curiosity to understand a different idea, a surprising thing happens: I actually begin to think. I think about whether:
- There is truth to their point.
- Their thinking reveals holes in my own beliefs the thinking.
- What they say bolsters or solidifies my current thinking.
- There is any nugget I can take from their idea and apply in my life to help me achieve the results I desire?
We all have opportunities every day to be exposed to new ideas through the people we interact with, the books we read, and the media we watch and listen to. Begin being mindful of the people that make you think, and start listening to them. You certainly don’t have to agree with them, but at the very least, allow their ideas to engage your brain and cause real thinking to occur.
Don’t be too eager to automatically dismiss an idea that doesn’t completely align with your current thinking, or that is new and different. Instead, examine the idea through the lens of your own life and see if there might be some pearls you could begin to apply. You may be surprised by new options and opportunities that were never possible as a result of your old thinking.