All of humanity lives with some degree of bias — it cannot be helped. Bias is forged into our minds from our formative years, passed down from parents, siblings, teachers, and friends. Many biases are not detrimental, but there are some that are harmful and will keep you from finding your true potential, from finding truth and from expanding your mind. The most limiting type of bias is confirmation bias, which simply means that when you look for information about something, you are looking through the lens of your preconceptions about the subject. When this happens, you will keep on searching until you find what fits with what you already think or believe.
People who want to expand their minds need to re-learn how to search for and process information without confirmation bias. Here are a few good ways to overcome confirmation bias to expand your mind.
1. Don’t Be Afraid
Sometimes, when people hear the phrase “expand your mind,” they automatically think they will be brainwashed into believing some weird ideas, but it simply means to acquire the ability to think more deeply about ideas and beliefs. There is no need to be afraid of new ideas or someone else’s opinions. Expanding your way of thinking doesn’t mean you have to agree or disagree with someone or something — you will be able to think more critically about the world around you, and the world needs more deep thinkers!
2. Know That Your Ego Doesn’t Want You To Expand Your Mind
Ego gets in the way of so many things. It is beneficial to know who you are, but be on the lookout for your ego. Humility is not a virtue that is celebrated much today, but the world would be a better place if it was. When you try to eliminate confirmation bias, it is guaranteed that your ego will be put to the test. When this happens, remember you do not know everything, and even when you are 100 years old, you will still have lessons to learn about life. Practice humility when it comes to listening to others. We were given only 1 mouth, but 2 ears. Listen twice as much as you speak and you will be well on your way to expanding your mind.
3. Think For Yourself
This is also a much-needed quality in today’s world. The internet is full of information, social media is full of opinions, and we are so busy that we end up quoting someone else’s thoughts without making sure we agree with what we are quoting. Think for yourself. Do not depend solely on what people are telling you — find out for yourself. If you have to do some thorough research, do it — you will be better off for it. It may mean you will need to tell someone you can’t give an answer right away because you need to take some time to think it over, or it may mean you will never have an answer to a problem. People who expand their minds know that some questions just don’t have answers.
4. If You Want To Expand Your Mind, You Must Be OK With Disagreements
Have you ever heard the phrase “devil’s advocate?” If a person believes something, a friend might come along and test those beliefs by asking pointed questions or making strong statements about the subject, usually from the opposing standpoint. If the person really knows their stuff, this does not pose a threat — it gives them a chance to really show how much they know about the topic! But for others who have not been thinking for themselves, someone playing devil’s advocate really points out the lack of an expanded mind. This point goes hand in hand with points 1and 2; be humble enough to seek out disagreements and don’t be afraid of opposing viewpoints. You can learn a lot from someone who disagrees with you. Arguing and fighting are never good ways to expand your way of thinking, but debate is a great way to exercise your brain “muscles.”
5. Ask Good Questions
Remember when your teacher told you the only dumb question is an unasked question? That was true then, but you are older now, and if you want to expand your mind, you must not only ask good questions, but better questions. A good question is “what do you believe about this topic?”. A better question is “why do you believe this?” or “what led you to believe this?”. Asking questions that lead to deeper thought and conversation will help you to broaden your way of thinking.
6. Keep Information Channels Open
If you want to expand your mind, don’t close yourself off from new information. If philosophers, astronomers, and scientists had been closed to new information, we would still believe the world is flat, we wouldn’t know about gravity, and we would have no cures for any diseases. Keeping yourself open doesn’t mean following every new idea that comes along; it simply means being humble enough to know that no matter how much we learn, there is still room for more!