Character Chats

What is Open-Mindedness?

What is open-mindedness?

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social-emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. We have developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students, who are four, and our oldest student, who is 85.

Showing Open-Mindedness

And this month we are talking about being open-minded.

One of the things that comes to mind immediately is, a long time ago when I was still in undergraduate school getting my special education degree, we were talking about body language and how standing like this closed you off to the conversation. But putting your hands down, having your hands behind your back, positioning yourself in such a way that it left you open to how students were talking with you could really engage in the conversation.

And as we’re talking about being open-minded, it’s not just how you stand, though how you stand does portray your level of being open at that moment in time. But it’s also how you think, how you feel, how you react to things, what you decide upon. All those kinds of things play a role in your open-mindedness.

Trying New Things

As parents, I’m sure we can all relate to having heard our kids at home, “Just try the new food. You might like it.” And what do they wind up saying? “I won’t like it. I don’t want to.” It’s very closed. They already have made up their mind. They know they won’t like it, and no amount of cajoling or encouraging or bribing will get them to ever try that food. We recognize closed mindedness that way, the very kind of face that our kids would make at home, especially when it came to trying new foods.

But it’s a matter of teaching our students, our kids, each other that it is okay to be open-minded, that it is okay to try new things, that it is okay to take a risk and see what happens because there are benefits to that. There are rewards to that. We get to learn things.

Earlier today we had a meeting, and one of the things that was shared had to do with failing, with messing up. And you really only fail when you quit. Otherwise, you’re just getting information. You’re just learning something new. You’re just adding to what you already know, to your repertoire, if you will. And so when we’re thinking about that open-mindedness, we can think about it as gaining new information, getting an ability to draw correlations or draw comparisons to things.

When I was in third grade, my parents wanted me to try shrimp, and I had already made up my mind and was sitting there with my arms crossed and had said, “No, no, no, no, no.” And my mom told me, “Okay.” And she pulled out the piece in front of me, and when I wasn’t looking, put something different. I think it was just a cut up piece so it didn’t resemble an actual shrimp. She goes, “Here, try this. It’s chicken. It’s just got a different flavor to it.” And I tried it and I liked it. And it was that experience that led me to understand that trying something for the first time can be a really good thing. It was actually shrimp that I tried. It was delicious, and it’s one of my favorite foods now.

Benefits of Open-Mindedness

And when we’re talking with those younger students and things like that, it’s helpful to give them those comparisons. But it’s also helpful to remind them that everybody has to try something new at some time. We all have to try something new at some time. We all have to try to ride our bikes. We all have to try to give that presentation for the first time. We all have to try the new food at some time. We all have to try riding on a rollercoaster for the first time at some point. And having those open-minded moments where we gain information, we ask all the questions we need, we feel comfortable with our decisions before we act, helps to grow our confidence in being open-minded.

And so as we go through this month, we’re going to talk about some of those benefits. We’re going to talk about meeting new people. We’re going to talk about trying new things, and we’re going to talk about how we are all different. We all like different things. And it’s having an open-minded attitude when we’re interacting with each other that really lends itself to some positive relationships.

So thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here