Open your mind

Open your mind: the world is not how we see it

The NY Times mini-puzzle yesterday morning had a three letter word with this description:  “24-hour source of 20’s.” My mind immediately related “20’s” with age. I filled in the three squares with the word “GYM,” and experienced the small rush of joy that a problem quickly solved provides.

As I kept filling in the puzzle, I realized the Y was messing up my horizontal line. I deleted “GYM” and kept thinking about 3 letter words related to age. I couldn’t come up with any. Frustrated, I used the feature the paper provides to reveal the word, and this is what came up:

Of course! In the puzzle, “20’s” meant 20 dollar bills, but it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Instead of widening my perspective about the definition, I kept trying to find a word that would fit my interpretation of “20’s” as in “20 years old.”

Had I changed my initial point of view, I would have solved that line in no time at all.

This incident made me reflect on how we think the way we see the world is the way the world really is. In this case, my fixed mindset only made a puzzle unsolvable. But a closed mind can have grave consequences. Some people deny climate change is happening because it doesn’t fit their worldview, so we keep careening towards our man-made annihilation. Others made up their minds that President Trump colluded with Russia even before they knew the facts, because it further justified their urge to hate him. Perhaps he did, perhaps he didn’t, that’s not the point. The point is that when you don’t open your mind, even facts won’t change your opinions.

But the world is not how we see it. Our perspective is inevitably tainted by our prejudices, our fears, and our emotions. Only when we are aware of the dislocation between our perception and reality can we tear down the walls that imprison our mind and listen to others’ points of view with kindness.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash