We are coming to the end of Celebrate Diversity Month, and now is the perfect time to consider how to incorporate the value of embracing differences into our everyday lives for the rest of the year.
Diversity isn’t just about acknowledging that we are all different. It’s about celebrating our community (on a small and large scale) that is made up of people of all different races, ethnicities, cultures, abilities, religions, genders and sexual orientations and recognizing that we each contribute something wonderful and unique to the whole. But this often conflicts with our innate impulse to put ourselves into groups and then protect those groups (which means some people will be on the "inside" and others on the "outside"). How do we celebrate our differences when we're often busy sorting and categorizing ourselves by those very differences? Below are some thoughts on the "why" and "how" from some experts at the University of California, Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center who know what they're talking about.
Like any change you make to life (big or small), all it takes is a decision and a plan -- and maybe a reminder to check in with yourself at a certain time to see how you did and reconfirm your commitment. Maybe the ideas below are where we can all start making a positive change in our own lives.
WHY WE SHOULD CULTIVATE DIVERSE SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
The folks at the Greater Good Science Center say, "Social connections are one of the single biggest predictors of personal well-being, and there is some evidence that making your network of connections rich and diverse can also contribute to health, success, and happiness." Basically, doing a better job at celebrating diversity helps your life.
They offer evidence of that, which includes: studies show that diverse organizations perform better; studies also show that prejudice hurts the target and the perpetrators physically; and separation fuels intergroup discrimination, conflict, and violence. Read their article on WHY it's important to embrace diversity, and then you can choose to make it part of your life!
HOW GOOD ARE YOU AT BRIDGING DIFFERENCES? TAKE THE QUIZ!
How open are you to connecting with different kinds of people? How skilled are you at expanding your social circle beyond people who seem most like you? How comfortable are you with disagreement with people whose views differ from your own? You might think you're doing pretty good with this, or maybe you want to find out where you can do better. Take this quiz and find out!
HOW DO WE EVEN DO THIS IRL (IN REAL LIFE)?
The experts at the Greater Good Science Center want you to know that, "As human beings, we tend to favor people we think are like us or have something in common with us—and we’re often wary of people who are different." We can agree that there's lots of evidence of this is our daily lives. But it's not all bad news! In fact, there's a new study that indicates that just thinking about cooperation can make you less prejudiced. Sounds like a great place to start: think about cooperation, step one! Read more about the findings of the study in this article.
Our Greater Good friends have some more easy-to-do ideas to increase your appreciation of diversity that include: practicing mindfulness; cultivating awareness of your own biases; seeking out friendships from people who are different from you; and be vulnerable around different kinds of people. If you want to know what these things mean or how to do them, read this article.
Simple changes to how we do things can make a lasting difference!