Openness is one of the five personalities listed in the ‘Big Five’ personality traits. It sits alongside conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism and is thought to be directly linked to an individual’s creative potential.
As with the other personality traits listed above, openness is a spectrum trait. That means that we are all to some degree open-minded and that we can shift up and down the openness scale. Where you are on this scale determines how creative, adventurous, and open-minded you are.
In this guide, you will learn what openness is, how it is related to creative potential, and how you can become a more open-minded person. Finally, we will show how Simply Lifestyle can help you assess and develop your openness personality trait.
What is openness?
People high in openness tend to be creative, open-minded, and adventurous individuals that are always open to new experiences. They also excel at finding connections between concepts and ideas, which makes them intellectually strong.
Less open-minded people tend to be stuck in their ways and avoid change if they can help it. They have a narrow band of activities in which they participate and rarely step out of that comfort zone.
Another way of seeing openness is to think of someone who always believes there is an alternative way to solve an old problem. They are constantly on the lookout for different ways to approach a problem. Whether intended or not, open-minded individuals will find more efficient way’s to solve problems than those who stick to the same old solution all the time.
In research, openness has been closely linked with intelligence, and it is likely due to the constant exposure to new experiences.
Attributes of openness
What makes openness such a powerful trait to have for a person? Why is it so closely correlated with intelligence? Let’s have a look at some of the major attributes of the openness character trait!
Being adventurous is one of the main facets of an open-minded individual. They are not stuck within the same routine all the time and have no problem stepping outside of their traditional lives. Whether they come up with a radical new plan in a business meeting or decide to train for a boxing tournament, an adventurous person sets themselves up to learn new skills and experience new things.
Whether they take a risky decision or not, an open-minded person will look for new adventures. Oftentimes this opens up doors to new opportunities for them, that would otherwise not have come up.
Just like an adventurous nature, being creative is another key component of an open-minded person. They often ‘think outside the box’, and naturally, this requires a bit of creativity.
This level of imagination oftentimes translates over to problem-solving skills, further adding to the usefulness of being open-minded.
In contrast to highly creative individuals, having low creativity means that a person is more likely to prefer practical theories and applications over abstract ideas and concepts.
Living a risk-free life seems very attractive to a lot of people, but not at all to an open-minded person. Their need for new experiences and adventure brings them into situations that might be seen as risky. The ability to take risks in life is what separates the dreamers from the doers.
A person scoring low in openness will continuously be hesitant to take on an opportunity, while an open-minded individual will already be reaping all the rewards and benefits.
Risk takers are far more likely to become successful, as they do not limit themselves and create their own opportunities instead of waiting around for them.
Openness as a personality trait is also often linked with a person’s interest in nature and the arts. Relying on imagination and being a creative individual in itself is already an art form. If you enjoy fantasy books or movies and take pleasure in nature, then you are at least to some extent an open-minded person.
We all strive for a happy and successful life in whatever field interests us. Some aspire to have a successful professional career, become a world-class athlete, become excellent mothers/fathers and the list goes on. Having an emotionally balanced life is what allows us to achieve these high-reaching goals.
In this field, open-minded people thrive. Since they are so knowledgeable about different aspects of life, they have learned the tools necessary to live in emotional equilibrium. They have a strong awareness of their feelings and can keep them under control in difficult or stressful moments.
This is a crucial skill to master if you want to succeed in a stressful environment.
As mentioned before, an open-minded person will go out and seek new experiences and endeavors. With time, being exposed to so many new areas of life, their knowledge base starts to accumulate. They will gain much life experience, and hence seem very knowledgeable.
Someone who is always following the same daily routine will never be able to acquire as much knowledge as someone who always steps out of their comfort zone. Over time, this gap will become much larger, and the open-minded person will be much farther ahead in life.
Ways to increase openness
As I mentioned in the introduction, openness is a spectrum trait, which means we can move up and down the openness scale. But why would we want to become more open-minded?
If you are looking to get ahead in life, whether that be in school or at work, being more open-minded will give you numerous advantages. You will take more risks, have a better emotional balance, and be more creative and adventurous. These are all attributes that will enhance your chances to become successful in life.
Moreover, it allows you to live a happier and more balanced life. Let’s go over some ways in which you can increase openness.
Determine your level of openness
Whenever you try to improve something in life, you must have an idea of the skills and knowledge that you already possess. Once we know this, we can start to build upon that foundation.
Figuring out exactly how open-minded you are isn’t difficult, and can be determined via a set of questions. Examples of such questions can be:
- Are you curious about how the world works?
- Are you good at coming up with new ideas?
- Do you enjoy solving old problems with new methods?
- Do you have a creative mind?
- Do you enjoy learning about abstract concepts and theories?
If you have answered yes to all of those questions, then chances are that you rank quite high on the openness scale! Maybe you were able to answer yes to most, but not all. In that case, you know exactly what area you need to put focus on!
Of course to get a proper idea of exactly where you are at, a more detailed list of questions will have to be asked. If you enroll in the openness track, the first thing you will be required to do is to fill out a list of questions that will determine where on the openness scale you rank. Once we have that information, we can start developing your openness skills.
Become more creative
Creativity is a key component that makes open-minded people who they are. Without creativity, it is very hard to benefit from the advantages that a high openness personality brings.
Increasing your creative level isn’t difficult, but you must be guided in the right direction to see the wanted results.
One of the best ways to let your brain run free in creative thought is to embrace boredom. With instant gratification at our fingertips in the form of social media, we have stopped being bored. This becomes a creative disaster.
Studies have shown that being bored causes our brains to fall into a state of deeper thinking and creativity. Our mind likes to keep busy, so it will look for internal stimulation instead of external, like social media. If you try to just sit in your room, doing nothing for 15 minutes, you will notice you start to daydream. It is this daydream that translates into more creative capability.
It is healthy to simply let the mind wander from time to time.
There are of course many more ways in which you can improve your creative skill. In the ‘increasing openness’ track, more of such methods are used to build up your levels of creativity over time.
Read more non-fiction books
It is hard to try new things or learn a new skill if you don’t know they exist. One of the easiest ways to come into contact with new experiences you might enjoy is to pick up a good book. I suggest picking up non-fiction books, as they typically allow you to explore whatever you are reading further on in real life.
For example, you might read a book on a successful entrepreneur, and get inspired to create a product or service of your own. You might take a sudden interest in investing, which is a great life skill to have.
Reading just 30 minutes every day can make you an expert in a field in a couple of months, as well as bring so many more benefits to your life.
In the openness track, we set a goal of reading up to 1 hour per day. Not only will it help you discover new things, but we also aim to make reading a habit. So that after the openness track is complete, you will remain a reader for life!
Try new things and leave your comfort zone
It’s safe to say that if you wish to become more knowledgeable and open-minded through new experiences you will have to try new things. There is nothing more fruitful than leaving your comfort zone to increase openness.
The best way to leave your comfort zone is to gradually step out of it. It is always a bad idea to get right into it. Learn to walk before trying to run.
One of the best places to start is your bucket list. We all have things in life we want to experience, but which might make us nervous to attempt. Think about activities like sky diving for example. Most people would like to try it, but most are also scared of it. Doing these sorts of activities is a great starter to leave your comfort zone because they are things you genuinely want to do.
Once you have gotten comfortable with stepping out of your comfort zone, you can target other areas of your life. You can ask your boss to take on more responsibility at work, or face one of your greatest fears!
Seeing yourself do these types of activities will have numerous advantages, such as teaching you valuable lessons and increasing your self-esteem!
Seeing the world can give you a new understanding of different cultures. Hence it can alter your perspective on life. If you are not used to traveling, it might light an adventurous fire inside you. Exactly that which an open-minded individual would feel!
The benefits of traveling are plenty, and sometimes quite unexpected. While traveling is mainly to see another place, one hidden benefit is that it makes you appreciate your home that much more. It can invoke a strong sense of gratitude when you come safely home from an adventure away.
Travelling doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars, you can fly quite cheaply if you look for the right kinds of airlines! So try and plan a trip in the near future if you want to work on your openness character trait!
Becoming more open-minded will benefit most people greatly, whatever area of life you wish to improve upon! Like changing any personality trait, increasing openness takes time. That is why the Simply Lifestyle ‘openness track’ takes several months. This is to ensure that all the new behaviors taught stick and turn into habits. That way when the guided track has finished, you will carry those skills with you for the rest of your life!