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Gratitude for Our Differences

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With the holidays here, it’s likely you will be gathering with family and friends for meals and celebrations. And it’s also likely that you will have a range of differences with those you interact with. Those differences can be relatively minor—like what your favorite color is, or which style of music you like—or more significant, like your political views, or your value system.
How we deal with these differences can have a significant impact on our mental health. Given the stress of the last year and a half, being prepared for, and even focusing on being grateful for our differences can go a long way in maintaining our equilibrium.


Science tells us that the more diverse an ecosystem is, the more resilient it is. When all parts work together, diversity is a strength. Artists, engineers, teachers, and doctors each bring their singular expertise and experience to contribute to our world. Most of us grow up with belief systems that keep us anchored in a certain trajectory in life. That has its advantages. But when we encounter those whose lives have been guided by different belief systems, it can seem jarring.


Curiosity is an underrated tool. Cultivating a curious attitude opens us up to potential learning opportunities. When we are filled with our own ideas, there is no room for anything new.
There’s an old Zen story about a successful man who comes to a Zen master in search of enlightenment. The master sets a teacup in front of the man, and starts pouring tea into it. When the cup is full, the monk continues to keep pouring the tea, and it overflows onto the table and the man’s clothing. Upset, the man exclaims, “Enough! Can’t you see that the cup is full! You are spilling the tea all over!”  The master replies, “Like the teacup, your mind is so full of ideas, there is no room for anything more to be added. Come back when your mind is empty.”
This simple story teaches us that when we approach someone or something filled with our own convictions, it is difficult to appreciate another perspective. Keeping in mind that every situation in life can offer us learning and growth, making a conscious effort to be curious in the face of differences, can open us up to new inspiration and understanding. And that’s something to celebrate!
We at Montare are grateful for the strength you bring to our community. You, our partners, teammates, and associates, bring a rich field of possibility and hope to the field of mental and behavioral health.
For inspiration and tools, check out our podcast: