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Being open


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A simple way to start being creative is just to be open.


Ontology is 'the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence'. This whole field of study considers what it is to be. We don't just exist: we exist in external contexts in the world. We also exist in internal contexts, where our state of mind frames and changes everything else we perceive.

And the great thing about consciousness and human volition is that you can choose your ontological state. In other words, you can decide how you will be. This does not mean you can be happy 100% of the time just by deciding it. Deliberately being in any given state takes a degree of will and work. You can decide to be happy and, with enough skill and effort, be happy significantly more of the time than you would be otherwise.

Being closed

Many of us live in a state of closure, where any new ideas are ignored, criticized or otherwise pushed away. Closure is a state where the doors of the mind are, literally, closed. It is a state where defending existing ideas, beliefs, values, mental models and so on is the prime response. A good argument is one where you win and the opponents (who are always wrong) lose.

Being closed is, in some ways, comfortable. It is staying with what is seen as the tried and true. However it is also a state of embattlement, where you are constantly having to repel boarders.

People who are mostly closed seek like-minded people, where there is a tacit agreement not to challenge ideas. In fact much of the conversation is spent reinforcing those ideas and scoffing at the rest of the world. Their lives are as predictable as they are comfortably numb, with emotions held at arms length and meaningless habits the sole source of sustenance.

Being open

To be open is to live with a sense of curiosity, where every moment is an opportunity for learning, where existing ideas, mental models and beliefs are temporary and flexible. What others have to say is always interesting, and a good dialogue is one where you learn something new or are persuaded to think differently in some way. Being open means seeing things both as they really are (as opposed to through the lens of fixed though) and also as how they could be. The world is seen as alive, dynamic and full of opportunity.

Being open is exciting and interesting. It can also be tiring when you have been drinking at the hosepipe of discovery for too long. Being open does need rest periods, when you can digest your new learning, integrating it into your current (though loose) models of understanding. Being open does not necessarily mean never being closed, but it does mean being open by default and being in that state for most of the time.

People who are mostly open seek new experiences and conversation with strangers. Their friends may be highly diverse and the company they frequent is likely to be others who are also open to challenging thought. Their lives do have pattern, though the patterns are of exploration and difference rather than similarity and similarity.

See also

Closure, Ways to kill ideas, Creating a Life


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