Why Open-Minded People Live Happier Lives

free happy woman enjoying...
free happy woman enjoying...

Originally published on Unwritten by Amanda Beadlescomb.

If I had to list all the things I've changed my mind about in the past month, I don't think the list would even fit in the last few pages of my notebook. I've changed my mind about boys I liked, friends I wanted in my life, careers I wanted to pursue, cities I wanted to move to, wines I wanted to drink, and Bachelor contestants I wanted to win. I've changed from loving Starbucks to pledging allegiance to Coffee Bean, changed from hating Hillary Clinton to thinking I could vote for her if Donald Trump was the only other option; my life has changed so much, I even use gel eyeliner now instead of liquid.

In short, I change a lot of my opinions, and I change them often.

I used to stress out about the time when I promised my mom I would never drink until I was 21, and then decided somewhere during my freshman year of college that I was okay with having a few drinks with my friends on the weekends. Or the time I said I absolutely would never date someone who wasn't of my religion, only to fall in love with a boy who didn't have a clue what he believed in. I didn't want to be a hypocrite, but I knew somehow that I couldn't stay the same forever.

In our 20's, we have so much to figure out. Change is constant when it comes to the people we meet, the classes we take, the places we travel. And every new experience will inevitably bring, well, more change. We aren't hypocritical for doing differently during the changing seasons of our lives. In fact, I think changing our opinions is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Here's why.

The opinions we hold as children and teenagers are often the opinions passed on to us from our parents. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes we end up deciding as adults that those opinions are truly ours as well. But going through the process of questioning your beliefs in your late teens and 20's, and tweaking them along the way, ensures that the opinions we have are authentic to us, not the people who raised us.

You must learn day by day, year by year, to broaden your horizons. 

Changing our opinions broadens our perspectives. If you spend time agreeing with one group of people your entire life, you miss out on seeing things from more than one perspective. Rarely are any problems solved by focusing on only one side of an argument, or only one piece of a puzzle. The broader your perspective is, and the more opinions you can understand the easier it will be to think in terms of the bigger picture.

Sometimes, changing our opinions helps us admit our mistakes. Owning up to the fact that I'm wrong is one of the hardest things for me to do. If halfway through an argument I realize that I'm wrong, I am the type of person to keep arguing anyway - fully aware that the right thing to do would be to admit my error. I consider a "wrong" opinion to be one that can be factually disproven, one that tears down innocent people, or one that you suddenly realize is not true to your own values anymore. And from what I've learned, people will respect you more in the long run for changing your mind about an opinion that is wrong than they will for holding firmly onto it in the name of being strong-willed.

Change your opinions, keep to your principles.

The more we change our opinions, the more we learn. There are some truths in your life you will never change, whether those include religious beliefs, family values, morals, or whatever you think is ultimately important. But after those few, solid truths, I think every opinion you hold should be up for grabs. Listen to other's stories before you decide that a certain group of people is inherently bad or good. Explore as many careers as you need to before deciding that something is your passion. Change, experience, and grow. I bet you all the money in your wallet that you'll be better off for it.