By Marybeth Bock

We hear a lot about diversity these days, and you might be wondering why it’s actually important to incorporate it into your life.

Human diversity exists in many forms– culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and socioeconomic background. All of these characteristics form how we uniquely view the world around us.

Think about the people that you interact with on a daily basis. Are most of them very similar to you?

If they are, it’s probably a good idea to think about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and seeking out more diversity in your life. There are several ways it can change your life for the better.

Getting to know people who are different than you allows you to hear their stories, their struggles and learn about what they value. This can help you appreciate other people’s motivations and hardships, helping you to grow more empathetic and accepting of different ideas.

When you are exposed to diverse cultures, you learn how to better communicate with all kinds of people, and you increase your understanding of the world. This can be helpful in your future, whether you’re interacting with new people in a school or work environment, or if you can take advantage of traveling to different countries. With our technology today, we are all essentially global citizens, so being aware and accepting of diverse opinions and ideas is both helpful and valuable.

When you have more contact and interactions with people who may seem very different from you on the surface, you also start to really understand that we all have more in common with each other than we think we do. It’s easy to dismiss someone who looks or acts in a way that seems strange or scary to you, but in most cases, when you develop a relationship, you realize that everybody basically wants the same things in life – to be valued, accepted and loved.

Diversity also just makes life more interesting and fun. We all need new ideas and activities to truly enjoy our lives and help us grow as people. Getting to know people who are different from us helps everybody become less prejudiced and more apt to call out intolerance and injustice when we see or experience it in our lives.

Celebrating our many differences is a powerful way to make the world a more peaceful and beautiful place.