Diversity makes life interesting. "Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor." William Cowper's poem, "The Task" (1785).
I recently travelled to New York for the first time and was reminded of the recommendation by the Dalai Lama to go to some place you have never been once a year. I loved it. Going to new places, meeting new people, having different conversations, trying different food and just experiencing how other people live is powerful and helps you see your own life with new eyes and ideas on how to solve your problems or make it better.
Variety is shown to benefit us in so many ways - from allowing ourselves to experience a broad range of emotions, to eating a variety of foods to going different places, having different conversations and experiencing different things.
Interestingly as well as doing different things, A number of studies show that cultivating a diversity of emotions within - both along the positive and negative spectrum-also make us happier and healthier.
A paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology by researchers from six institutions and 4 countries - including Yale University and Harvard Business School - shows that experiencing a variety of emotions is good for our mental and physical health. Wellbeing is not about being cheerful or in an even mood all the time. It is a normal and healthy part of life to experience the range of emotions of happiness, sadness, fear and anger on a daily basis.
A famous study by the University of California, Riverside's Sonja Lyubormisky surveyed participants' tendency for positive emotions (like awe and gratitude) and negative ones (like anger, anxiety and sadness). In particular, they measured the variety and richness of these emotions - a concept they called "emodiversity" and found that cultivating a range of emotions - both positive and negative makes us happier and healthier. The study also showed that people high in emodiversity were less likely to be depressed than people high in positive emotions alone. People with more the more emodiversity were also shown to use less medication use, and had fewer doctor visits and days in the hospital as well as having a better diet as well as exercise and smoking habits.
Having a wide variety of experiences also makes it easier for us to empathize with others, making us more connected, real, authentic and easier to relate to.
Being self-aware and allowing yourself to experience and express the full range of emotions is normal and as you would expect good for you.
In order to do this, having new experiences of life makes it easier - that means enjoying new challenges, going different places, seeing things differently and doing what it takes to make that happen.
Another 'Wharton' study on work place happiness showed that variety at work also made people happier and more productive! Timeframes were shown to make a big difference. Cassie Mogilner:. 'We found that over a day or a week or a month, variety - perhaps consistent with people's perceptions - leads to greater happiness. However, over shorter periods of time than a day, such as an hour, 15 minutes, or a half-hour, when variety actually does get experienced as multitasking, it actually becomes fairly stressful, and instead of variety increasing my happiness, it makes me less happy."
As expected, When you're trying to do too many things at once, you feel not very productive. And feelings of productivity are crucial for feeling happy and satisfied.
Too much variety can be overwhelming and confusing but the right amount of it makes for a happier, richer and healthy life. Wish you a great week.