We judge people every single day: how they talk, what they say, how they dress, what they do for work, how they like to spend their weekends… and on and on and on. We also judge ideas and activities and experiences before we’ve even given them a chance—before we’ve given ourselves the chance to embrace them.

Sure, some of us are more judgmental than others, but the truth is that we could all benefit from toning down our judgmental thoughts and opening our minds to new people and new ideas. If you aren’t sure how to ditch those useless predispositions, try employing the following techniques:

    1) Fight the urge to react negatively.

    Before you think negatively about an individual or an idea right off the bat, stop yourself. Halt the anger, the disapproval, the ill will—chances are, the subject of your judgments doesn’t deserve any of your negativity or concern.

    2) Consider the “why’s.”

    Once you’ve stopped your negativity from rising to the surface and taking over, think about the “why’s.” The next time you judge someone for wearing an old, ratty t-shirt, really think about why they may be wearing an old, ratty t-shirt. Similarly, the next time someone’s views don’t align with yours, consider why those views may differ.

    3) Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

    We often make judgments before we have quality information: we look at and judge one’s actions, without knowing what may have triggered the behavior; we deem something wrong, before fully understanding its philosophy. Put an end to this by asking more questions. Don’t worry, a question isn’t offensive—but judgments can be.

    4) Genuinely listen to the answers.

    Don’t just act like you’re trying to be more open-minded—go the full distance by actually listening to the answers you receive. If nothing else, you’ll learn more about a subject you weren’t so familiar with. And once you get into the habit of doing so, you’ll get the hang of this whole open-minded thing!

    5) Step outside of your comfort zone.

    Get out of your bubble—there’s perhaps no better way of opening your mind than that. While stepping outside of your comfort zone can be scary, it’s also incredibly beneficial: it will spice up your life, whilst forcing you to open your mind to the unfamiliar.

    6) Embrace new experiences and opportunities.

    Start by actively seeking new experiences when you’re feeling up for it—but then open yourself even further by embracing every new opportunity that presents itself. Become a yes-man: take that spontaneous trip across the country; put those free concert tickets to good use; say yes to spur-of-the-moments.

    7) Utilize the power of mindfulness.

    The very philosophy of mindfulness is focusing on the present and letting go of the past. Employing this technique will certainly help you to shed old harmful thoughts and feelings and open your mind to new and beneficial ones. All you have to do is make the consciousness effort to live in the current moment.

    8) Socialize with new people.

    Instead of spending every second with your tight-knit clan, branch out and get to know somebody new—specifically someone you wouldn’t typically befriend. This creates the perfect opportunity to challenge your judgmental tendencies and open your mind to new people and ideas.

    9) Respect others’ values.

    An important part of challenging your judgmental inclinations is learning to respect others. You must realize that your opinions and your values are not the only existing opinions and values; we all have them, and they all deserve equal respect. Consider how you feel when your values are disrespected—that will surely drive this idea home.

    10) Be honest and true to yourself.

    Being open-minded doesn’t mean putting your values on the backburner—it simply means opening yourself to others’ values and views. So, try each day to open your mind to new people, ideas, and experiences… but also remain true to yourself. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters.

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