Yes, I have opinions on a lot of things.  If you are interested, I’ll share them.  But be clear, that’s all they are.  Just my opinions.  I’m sure you have your own. Lots of them. They may be the same as mine. They may not, and that’s okay. That’s the way the world works. When it comes to opinions, as in all things, we have a choice. I can make a conscious choice to be open minded and listen to the opinion that differs from ours. Maybe after listening we can think it through. We may learn something. We may have a better understanding of the other person. We may have more empathy and compassion—instead of deepening the divide.

Maybe after listening I decide that I totally disagree. That’s fine too. I can keep that to myself and move on. Or I can decide to argue.  Attempt to convince the other person that MY opinion is correct, and their opinion is wrong.  Except…think about it.  We’ve all done it at one point or another. Has it ever worked? Has it ever completely changed the other person’s opinion to agree with ours? Probably not. The opposite in fact. The other person digs in and becomes more entrenched in their opinion, and we end up feeling frustrated, maybe even angry.  So what’s the point? It’s better to just let it go.

I’m not sure why we, as humans, feel like our opinions are so incredibly important. Maybe because it gives us a feeling of self-worth? Of belonging? Of importance? Proof that we are smarter? Or better?  Who knows… maybe all of these, maybe none of them. The fact of the matter is that we are never going to escape opinions that differ from ours.  We can choose what to do with that. It can be an endless source of frustration. It certainly causes some people to be downright mean, or we can choose to recognize it for what it is. Just another opinion.

Buddhist teachings tell us that holding on to opinions is a source of suffering. I tend to agree. Personally, I think this is always an opportunity for growth. There is so much information out there! Being open-minded has always enriched my life. With respect to my profession, my hobbies, personal growth, and relationships my life has been, and continues to be, greatly enriched by information.  I love learning!! Do I agree with everything I hear, read or see?  Of course not, but I do my best to approach everything with an open mind.

The next time you are confronted with an opinion that is different than yours take a second before you dive in to defend your opinion. Sometimes we are so quick to defend, we don’t even really “LISTEN” to the other side. Breathe in, breathe out and ask yourself what will you gain? Maybe this time you will choose to say nothing—to really listen. Digest what you’ve heard, and turn it into a learning opportunity. If the other person chooses to be unkind or tries to push their opinion on you remember…. YOU have the choice to let it go. Move on. There are other people that will be more than happy to have an open-minded conversation with you!