The Not-so-Secret Formula to Human Flourishing

I wrote a few months back about how the urban form enables way more and way easier interactions with people, because lack of reliance on a car means being able to see more people and have more chance encounters.  This frequency and ease of interactions is an important ingredient to innovation, because breakthrough happens not in a singular burst of inspiration but through rapid iteration across multiple players.

To pick up on this idea, it is important that those players are diverse in their backgrounds and perspectives, because evolution of thought happens when different ideas collide and can sharpen one another.  I think X, and you, coming from a different viewpoint, also think X, and so my belief in X is strengthened by seeing someone else arriving at the same conclusion from a different starting point.  Or I think X, and you, coming from a different viewpoint, think Y, and now I am confronted with the possibility that maybe the answer isn't X, it's partly X and partly Y, or maybe I was totally off and it's actually Y.

These are the incremental gains that accrue to people who interact with others different from them.  This is how innovation works, whether you are talking about scientific breakthrough, cultural expression, or spiritual growth.

So ask yourself: who have I interacted with this past month?  I am overwhelmingly grateful for conversations I have had in the past 30 days, both planned and unplanned, with a diversity of people representing many walks of life and educational/vocational disciplines.  I have learned from talking and from listening, and I've gotten a chance to do a lot of both, and I and the city I am part of are better for it.  So there's your not-so-secret formula to human flourishing: intensity of interactions and diversity of interactions.

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