David Strittmatter

3 reasons why openness pays off

Have you ever encountered the following situation? You saw someone who looked or did something interesting. You overcame your fear to approach this person and just said “Hi” or asked him/her a question. Based on this first action, you got into a great conversation which ended in exchanging contact details or a follow-up meeting. You invited this person to join your friends at a party or asked them for a date or something similar and, eventually, a great relationship was established.

I was often taught that life rewards openness and curiosity. In this article, I want to give you three reasons why you should be open-minded and tell you about personal experiences that made my life a little better just because I was curious.

To put it in a nutshell, the three arguments why openness pays off:

  • More and diverse relationships with people you like
  • You learn more about things you are not familiar with
  • Miss less untapped opportunities

More and diverse relationships with people you like

Openness primarily refers to an unbiased interest in unknown people and situations. I have already had numerous great conversations and got to know various people only because I was curious. For instance, whenever I see someone in the gym doing an unfamiliar exercise drawing my attention, I asked them why they are doing it and if they would not mind to show me how the exercise works. The same applies to people in my daily life. People wearing shoes or clothes I like and want to buy as well are not safe from me and are approached as soon as possible.

By being genuinely interested in their opinion and what they have to say, great conversations occurred. It might feel awkward in the first few seconds as many people are not familiar with these situations, however, if you can show real interest and basic soft skills, they will quickly feel comfortable. Of course, not every situation might end super positively and there are always people who do not want to be disturbed or talked to. Nevertheless, many more situations will lead to great new relationships.

You learn more about things you are not familiar with

There is an innumerable number of things we do not know: Information which can help you to achieve your goals, increase your health and well-being, improve your relationships, support your family and friends and much more. Most of this knowledge, though, will stay untapped for you. On the one hand, it is obvious that is impossible to access and capture all wisdom. On the other hand, however, much information accessibly lays in front of us but is not seized: Friends and family members, YouTubers, writers, Google, etc. There is so much free wisdom.

Albert Einstein once said: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence”. You can only learn something new when you ask questions or try something out by yourself.

When I was young, I filled my parents with questions about literally everything. I wanted to understand everything I thought was interesting. I am unbelievably grateful that my parents were patient with me and took their time to answer my questions thoroughly and fostered my curiosity even more.

I still stick to this habit and immediately ask questions when I do not understand something: Either I instantly search for the answer on the internet, write my question down and look for it later or ask a person about it. This allowed me to acquire a lot of knowledge which helps me to make better decisions or improve in a certain area. For instance, when I love a dish someone made for me, I always try to find out the recipe or cooking techniques that were applied. Even when I do not cook the recipe by myself, I can still learn a lot about cooking in general. This way I can apply my expanded knowledge to my own cooking and improve. Specific examples are that a cooking thermometer is the safest way to get perfectly cooked meat or that most people underestimate the power of the right amount of salt, fat, and acid in their dishes which makes them taste bland.

Never miss untapped possibilities

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later

Richard Branson said this once. He is a great proponent of curiosity, openness, and audacity. Open-minded people are ideally people that see the opportunity in every problem instead of the problem in every opportunity. Open-minded people know that they are rewarded for trying things out they do not know.

Every day we are confronted with plenty of opportunities. Most of the time they appear minor and from a low impact on our lives. Friends recommending a new show on Netflix, colleagues telling us about a great tool to cope with a certain problem, moms and dads sharing their advice with us,…

The unappealing thing about this is that most of the time we are convinced that we know it better, that we do not need their help or suggestions. We often reject their ideas just by simply not trying them out.

In my case, I have already tremendously often refused to try out things my mother suggested to me. 90% of the time – when I tried them after refusing the aid – it actually helped me. Whether it is about traditional natural medicine (for instance certain teas or herbs), cooking, doing the laundry or other typical problems in the household.

The same goes for so many other areas in our life too. Teachers and managers, for example, want us to perform better. Yet, we tend to not listen to them and continue to do it our way.

And further, there are so many great opportunities we fail to harness only because we are not open to unfamiliar ideas. If I had not listened to one of my friend’s advice, I would have never started my newsletter. He told me once that I should try to reflect on a regular basis. This led to my daily reflections which led to my monthly reflections and then to my weekly reflections in the form of my weekly newsletter. And if I had not started my weekly newsletter, I probably had not thought about other possibilities to share my experience, which was the main reason why I started this blog and my YouTube channel.

Only when we are open to unfamiliar ideas and try things out, we can our lives to the fullest and can access our greatest opportunities.

I really hope that I could bring you closer to the idea of why openness is so important for me and that you are open to becoming a little more curious about stranger people and notions.

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