How Being Open to Change Can Improve Your Quality of Life
To begin the conversation of change, we must first understand the importance of open-mindedness. An article published by the University of Pennsylvania looked at open-mindedness in relation to authentic happiness. It explained that "The opposite of open-mindedness is what is called the myside bias, which refers to the pervasive tendency to search for evidence and evaluate evidence in a way that favors your initial beliefs." Being aware of our own mysids bias and when it is showing up in our lives is the first indication of our resistance to change.
Our brain often wants to protect us, so our default is to search for justifications aligned with our instinctual thoughts. Change can be scary; most people can agree on that. However, scary doesn't always mean bad.
When we develop an openness to consider new opportunities and experiences, we maintain a higher level of cognition. A study in Psychol Aging found that "openness to experience is correlated with intelligence as well as what is known as crystallized intelligence." Crystallized intelligence involves recalling stored information and pulling on the knowledge that comes from past learning and experiences. When we put this in a greater perspective, we can begin to see how actively being open to change and exercising this "muscle" can contribute to prolonged brain health.
A small-scale study found that elderly participants with mild DAT (dementia of the Alzheimer type) have more impaired crystallized intelligence than those without dementia. While it's important to be mindful that this is a very small study with only 50 participants, and the relationship between cause and effect isn't examined, it's still a very intriguing connection to consider.
As many movement specialists will tell you, 'if you don't use it, you lose it.’ This saying refers to muscles, and your brain is a muscle too!
How Can We Actively Practice Change?
Being open and actively inviting the opportunity for change into your life is a conscious practice that will challenge you (for the best.)
Let's look at a few things to keep in mind:
Say 'YES' more. The book "Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes is a great read if this is something you're looking to practice more.
Do something out of your comfort zone.
Ask yourself if you're justifying or making excuses.
Founder of Rooted Tree Wellness Studio
*Please note this article is extensively researched but is not written by a medical professional, nor should it be used as medical advice. We encourage you to seek advice from your primary care physician.
Authentic happiness. University of Pennsylvania. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2022, from https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/newsletters/authentichappinesscoaching/open-mindedness
Cherry, K. (2020, September 17). How does openness affect your behavior? Verywell Mind. Retrieved May 14, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-openness-influences-your-behavior-4796351
Hogan MJ, Staff RT, Bunting BP, Deary IJ, Whalley LJ. Openness to experience and activity engagement facilitates the maintenance of verbal ability in older adults. Psychol Aging. 2012;27(4):849-854. doi:10.1037/a0029066
Matsuda, O., & Saito, M. (1998). Crystallized and fluid intelligence in elderly patients with mild dementia of the Alzheimer type. International psychogeriatrics, 10(2), 147–154. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1041610298005250