In the same way that the hardest lessons we learn in life are often the most valuable, so, too, are the difficult people we meet along the way.
Even the unfriendliest and most challenging person we cross paths with has something of value to teach us about ourselves.
Sometimes we need to learn patience. Sometimes it’s self-discipline. Sometimes it’s to not let other people have so much control over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Whatever it may be, the people we find particularly challenging are valuable because they can instantly highlight weaknesses in our self-control. They can trigger us to think, act, or behave in such a way that isn’t congruent with the type of person we want to be.
But every experience we have in life — whether we choose to label it as “good” or “bad” — is an opportunity for growth. And every encounter we have with difficult people provides us with an opportunity to identify the things we need to work on in order to close the gaps between the person we are and the person we want to be.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Victor Frankl
A key to surviving experiences with difficult people — without being brought to the brink of behaving badly — is to remember that we may not always know what to do, but we can always choose the type of person we want to be.
And, with practice, we can choose to refuse to let others cause us to act in a way that is in direct conflict with the person we picture ourselves as.
And we can create the frame of mind necessary to do this by choosing to see the value in the negative people we encounter in life by actively using our experiences with them in such a way that we become not bitter, but better.
Some of the finest, most exemplary people you know of are still just people. And people have good days & bad days and boundaries & limits. Being a kind, tolerant, open-minded & empathetic person doesn’t mean you have to sit silent & put up with other people’s bullshit.
By their very nature, the most valuable people in your life provide you with something of value. And it’s wonderful. Now recognize that you have this same power to provide value to others & not just to people you know.
As one year ends and another begins, let us move forward with an open mind, an open heart, and enduring hope for the wondrous possibilities that lie before us.
But let us do so wisely and without blinders on.
Because although the year ahead may be great, it will not be without its challenges. We will be tested in ways we cannot foresee. But with every challenge comes an opportunity for us to demonstrate our strength, patience, tolerance, and resolve.
Every surprise that the coming year has in store for us is an opportunity to show that we’ve grown. That we’re stronger. And that we are ever bridging the gap between the person we are and the person we wish to be.
Let us remember that it is through the process of overcoming challenges that we develop strength. And that every time we face temptation, heartache, friction, or failure it is an opportunity for us to act in ways that we can be proud of.
No matter what life has in store for us, let this be a year of love, encouragement, and forgiveness — of others and ourselves.
Let it see us act bravely, boldly, and taking consistent action towards our goals. Let it see us correct our bad habits and add to our good ones — making us healthier, happier, and more capable of living the kind of life we desire. Let is see us push forward into the new year knowing that we are not only capable of handling every adversity that lies ahead, we can do so in a way that makes us better.
And because we know that life isn’t always easy, let us remember to not just be there for those that we know, but also for those that we don’t.
We could all use a little more compassion, a little more empathy, a little more kindness, and little more love. Let’s make 2019 a year where we all put in a little more effort to give a little more of all the things we could all use a little more of.
Silent appreciation is easily confused with silence.
If someone has done or is doing something that you appreciate, respect, or admire, take the time to acknowledge it in a meaningful way. It is an extremely easy and effective action that amplifies good feelings & positivity and helps to ensure that the things you appreciate continue.
You can be a kind person and still be the kind of person who yells profanity at the car that cuts you off in traffic. Being kind and not tolerating bullshit are not mutually exclusive. Being a kind person doesn’t mean you can’t verbalize your disapproval for disrespect.
Sometimes the biggest favor you can do someone is to stay calm and speak the truth. And sometimes that truth is, “You’re being an asshole and here’s why…” At other times it may mean not giving your time and attention to someone who doesn’t respect it.
You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be a Zen Master. And you certainly don’t have to tolerate bullshit. Just lead with kindness and always do your best. Even when others are not at their own.