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Diversity Is Good For You

lotusToday’s message is short and sweet: Get out there and do something different. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you do it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a matter of wearing different eyeliner than you’d usually choose, trying a different dressing on your salad or maybe even listening to a CD that you haven’t heard in ages. Just break out of your habits — even just a little — and experience life anew.

This idea of doing something different was born from my ever-increasing awareness that we’re narrowing and specializing our lives in ways that couldn’t have been imagined even 100 years ago. We sit at our desks for many hours at a time. We eat the same foods, more or less, day after day. We watch the same TV shows, read the same magazines and newspapers. We spend time with the same people over and over again. All this narrowing of focus is detrimental to being a well-rounded human being.

From an intellectual perspective, we only really grow when our viewpoints are challenged. This doesn’t mean getting into arguments over the internet (although it might happen), it means exposing ourselves to contradictory belief systems that cause us to reevaluate our own beliefs. Beliefs are important, but their viability is limited by our (lack of) knowledge. By expanding what we know, we can reevaluate what we think, feel and, ultimately, believe. Free-thinking and debate are powerful medicine in the realm of mind expansion.

From an exercise perspective, we want a wide range of body movements to ensure that all our muscle groups, connective tissues and structural members are sufficiently stressed. Bones need just enough punishment to encourage high density development and to help them remain strong and flexible in our later years. Use it or lose it isn’t just a cute and quaint expression; it’s a fundamental truth of the human physique. We need exercise, and we need all manner of different types of it. It’s great if you go running. It’s not so great if all you ever do for exercise is running. Got it?

From a dietary perspective, we want to take in a wide variety of different meats, vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits. (Note that I did not mention grains. Stay away from those.) The more diversity we have in our diet, the more likely we are to absorb adequate amounts of each of our essential vitamins and nutrients. If we limit our diet, especially narrowing ourselves to processed, fast foods, we can be in the unfortunate situation of being calorie-rich and nutritionally poor.

Finally, from a social perspective, we want to engage many different people. The wider our social circle becomes, the greater our contact base is. Any successful business person or entrepreneur will tell you that it’s who you know that’s important. Having a wide circle of social interaction puts you into contact with people who can/will help bring about opportunities you’d otherwise miss. This doesn’t mean that you should be out partying with people you otherwise don’t like, but just be open to opportunities and they’ll present themselves to you in places and times you wouldn’t expect. Moreover, you’ll develop ever better people skills, which will benefit all your relationships.

I read an article about US farm subsidies and how 96% of crops in the US are comprised of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, sorghum, barley, oats and rice. Fully 96% of the food grown in the States is limited to just 8 crops — most of which are fundamentally bad for your health, too! The subsidies reflect the broader problem of the decreasing availability of seed varieties. No less than 93% of the seeds available in 1903 were extinct only 80 years later in 1983.

This lack of diversity seems to be a pandemic of modern lifestyle. It simply cannot be healthful for us as individuals or as a species. So, get out there and do something different. And try to mix it up in various ways so that you’re doing, thinking, tasting, experiencing something different each and every day. Choice is good. Huge diversity is hugely good.

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