This Principle Is Key to Staying Open Minded
It’s called shoshin, and it’s about cultivating beginner’s mind
This post is all about a mental model that comes from Zen Buddhism. Don’t worry — these posts are still religiously agnostic, but that doesn’t mean I won’t shamelessly borrow useful mental models from religions! Enjoy.
What is Shoshin?
The Japanese term shoshin means “beginner’s mind” and can be further defined as follows:
Shoshin is an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even at an advanced level.
The mindset is characterized by openness — when we are in the shoshin mindset we are open and curious to possibility. We aren’t limited by our pre-existing knowledge that we develop as we reach advanced levels, we maintain a beginners mind.
Expertise is of course a good thing for the most part, but the downside is that it can lead us to be more likely to be trapped by confirmation bias — where we only see information that supports our preconceptions. Trying to cultivate shoshin is a good antidote!
I’ll leave you with this from Buddhist teacher Shunryu Suzuki:
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
Want to go deeper?
📖 Check out Shunryu Suzuki’s original work — Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
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