Designing with an open mind and an open heart

I am fascinated by metaphors and how they help us make sense of complex phenomenon.

Two metaphors that are often used to describe creative and empathic individuals are “open minded” and “open hearted”. Though some people use these two phrases to convey the same traits, here I try to understand the difference between them:

Open Hearted refers to expressing or displaying one’s feelings without concealment. If someone describes you as openhearted, they mean that you’re kind, honest, and generous. There is also an honesty and clarity associated with this adjective. A big part of being open hearted is being comfortable in accepting and revealing one’s vulnerabilities. 13th-century Persian poet Rumi says,

“If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

To me an open heart refers to breaking the guardrails that keep us from caring for each other. An open heart creates an open space to feel free to reveal one’s authentic self in each other’s presence.

California based Author and artist Kalen Dion believes,

“The shortest distance between two souls is an open heart.”

If we take a view that everything in this universe is connected and each one of us is only a conduit through which ideas and emotions flow, then an open heart refers to the state of connectedness through which energy, emotions and ideas flow unhindered. This flow helps build trust and inspires purposeful actions.

Roger Housden. the author of Ten Poems To Change Your Life believes,

“ When the heart door opens- you become less yourself than part of everything.’ Many are the sentinels who guard that door: our fears, our self-importance, our meanness, our greed, our bitterness, and others.”

Open minded refers to the willingness to consider new ideas; unprejudiced. It is a capacity necessary for thinking critically and rationally. It creates willing to consider ideas and opinions that are new or different to our own.

Margaret Mead considers an open mind a foundational requirement for an anthropologist. She suggests,

“Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess.”

Therefore seen together the two terms provide a new space for transformation in a caring society. In this space we can feel comfortable being authentic and vulnerable. It allows new insights and ideas to challenge our beliefs and mental models.

By being open hearted and open minded we can help nurture relationships and form communities that are based on caring for each other, learning from each other and supporting each other in solving problems and finding innovative solutions.

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