“Our greatest strength as a human race is the ability to acknowledge our differences, our biggest failure is our ability to embrace them.”
~ Judith Henderson

Why is that?

On a recent trip to Miami Beach to relax and celebrate my anniversary with the Zen Guy, we were mesmerized by people watching.  Tall, short, skinny, fat, black, white, loud, quiet, funny, serious, rude, kind, liberal, conservative, locals, tourists and everything in between.  On Day 1, I was in shock.  On Day 2, I was curious.  On Day 3, I decided to be myself. On Day 4, I was practicing yoga headstands on the beach.

It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and focus on what it is we lack in comparison.  “Oh she’s so skinny, I wish I was as thin as her.” It’s also easy to judge and criticize others for being deficient in some way that is not up to our standards.  “I can’t believe he just said that!”  But this attitude and way of thinking limits our growth. It boxes us in and shuts us down.

What we know (but often forget) is that differences are a beautiful thing: everyone has their own story, habits and reasons for looking, feeling and acting in a particular fashion.  It takes awareness and compassion to accept others for exactly as they are, whether you like or agree with them or not.  But first, it takes acceptance of ourselves as exactly who we are, even though we may feel like we’re not good enough sometimes.  After all, if everyone were the same the world would be a pretty boring place.

So, people watching is good for you if you make the conscious choice to view others through a lens of love and acceptance rather than criticism and judgment.  With an open, curious, “yes” attitude, we have the ability to celebrate people’s rainbow-colored differences, including our own.  And that leads to contentment, happiness and pure joy.

But don’t take my word for it.  Try it out for yourself and see.  I am curious to hear your thoughts.