Living an Inclusive Life

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Inclusion is a hot topic in workplaces. Something that I want to make a hot topic in daily life. This is my post on how I have become more inclusive in my life over time. A few tips on how you may become of a more inclusive mind as well.

We all have biases. We were raised a certain way. Experiences in life have reshaped us over and over. There is a way things “should” be, that motivates our minds; and we live from these biases on a regular basis.

Become Familiar

When I was very young I began taking interest in other cultures other than my own. I looked into Japanese culture, Spain and wanted to know more about Mexican-Americans around me. Sometimes I was shy and all I could do was watch from far off, but I was interested.

Being interested allows you to focus in and see more about others. I am not a shy person so many times I interacted with my new friends that I was paying attention to.

It is easier to take an interest in people we know. It’s a bit more daunting to take interest in people we do not know. We may not want to feel intrusive or voyeuristic.

Today we live in an app society. If I want to learn more about other cultures and people, I do not only have a book or magazine I could read. I can download an app and chat with people from other cultures and ask the scary questions that I am wondering about.

I can just have a normal conversation and see that people the world over are much the same as I am. Even if they have different religious practices or social traditions. We may both love eating potato chips instead of popcorn while watching a good movie.

Supporting Funny Jokes

Racial, gender biased, political or religious jokes are never fun. They can be “fun” in a select group, but not in a diverse group. Someone in that group is bound to connect to the offended end of that joke.

I’ve learned to smile at jokes and just say “Oh, no fair!” Then I walk away. I have decided that it is no fun heckling the comedian. I also do not have to participate in the jovial laughter.

This is a more passive approach to the issue. I believe confronting a person that intended to be funny and not cause dissension is counter-productive. Hard confrontation is the answer we want to save for hard issues. And we, of course, have more conversations about “jokes,” like this post.

Reading a book. Chatting with a friend.

Reading books you would not normally read that have opinions you would not normally agree with. This opens you up to some different though lives. Inclusion is not just about race, gender, and religion. Be curious about unconventional inclusion, such as a memoir from a musician you would not normally listen to, a book by a politician you do not agree with, or a chat with an inmate that did something that you do not understand (by letter of course).

For this portion of the post, I am not saying that this is something that you have to do all the time. But learning more about others that are a mystery to you is a great way to have a more inclusive mind. If you only do these things a few times a decade you are expanding your inclusive mind in many ways.

Forgive Yourself

We always talk about forgiving others. But in this post, we will talk about self-forgiveness. We are prone to bias. It is the way we were born and raised. Bias is a part of our lives. We will work with it every day.

Bias allows us to make sense of our world. That does not mean that we cannot bend reality in the area of our biases. When we are no longer in agreement with a past bias we can sometimes get to where we are not so nice to ourselves.

If you want to be nice to others, then you must start with yourself. So forgive yourself of that bias and move on. Say it out loud… “I use to feel this way about _____, but I no longer feel this way. I forgive myself for being that way before.”

Forgiveness is a simple practice, but a powerful one.

Concluding Inclusion

An open mind begets an open heart. Bias stands on the back of ignorance. Our biases shift by gaining more knowledge and understanding. The jokes that once were told in our small select groups no longer have savored. We grow as a person and we change that one person that needs changing in the whole entire world: ourselves. Inclusion begins with you.

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