One of life’s greatest challenges is to not be triggered by people we find off-putting or whose views aren’t in the highest. Yet it’s impossible to avoid the tremendous diversity of this world. It’s meant to be there! It’s a key part of the larger balance of things, it’s a form of interpersonal gravity holding everything together.


Yes, there’s a whole lot of variety on life’s buffet table, and that’s never going to change. So I routinely remind myself not to designate myself a judge or a jury. When I find myself looking at anyone through eyes of distaste, I do all within my power to shift to blessing them and sending them love and light.


Every relationship in our lives, the whole gamut from intimate to casual, is a “sacred contract.” Every relationship is a spiritual assignment. The people in our lives (whether we perceive them as good, bad, or ugly) represent foils and backdrops against which we are charged with the cosmic mandate to “develop ourselves.”


Every one of us incarnates as a singular soul, with a particular programming, and a uniquely encoded set of personal inclinations, preferences, aesthetics, standards, and ways of being. Then the individual self is placed in a particular context in order to evolve, develop, grow, give, learn, contribute meaningfully, and most importantly, to learn to love as a default setting.


Of course, we are placed in several different contexts over the course of a lifetime, further developing our character and adding breadth to our life experience. This juxtaposition of the individual self in the larger social surround, the journey of the singular being in the context of the collective, becomes our sacred life’s curriculum. Each of our personal journeys through the landscapes of the social and the cultural is utterly one-of-a-kind.


It’s helpful, then, when we realize and hold at the fore, the fact that every person who enters into our field matters tremendously to our incarnation. Whether we like these people or not, whether we get along with them or not, whether they are to our taste or not, whether they are in the role of antagonist/villain in our life, or a powerful ally and support system for us, every person in our midst is serving us powerfully on our life path.


So take a moment to silently thank the co-stars in this incarnation of yours. Thank them for enabling you to be yourself. It’s literally not possible to develop ourselves in the way we are meant to without the great diversity we encounter in this world, without the broad cast of characters who come onto our path.


Our job is to choose to be true to who we are in the face of the people we have in our lives, who are all attempting to do the same. Too often we start policing and micro-managing one another, trying to get each other to be different from how God made us, or we experience ourselves as unfree and as victims of circumstance, burdened by the ideologies held by the people around us. This might be parents with rigid ideas about what’s right and what should be. It might be a church or an educational institution. It might be a racial, cultural, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality that ensconces you in a specific set of norms and expectations.


The process of you trying to be you against the backdrop of others trying to compel you to be more like them, starts at birth, and continues throughout your life. And guess what, you too are playing the role of co-star in the lives of those around you. Perhaps inadvertently, or perhaps outright aggressively, you are placing your expectations and judgments upon those around you.


I find that remembering this helps me to stay in a spirit of adventure as I negotiate the human beings that come across my path. Thankfully the vast majority of them are truly wonderful beings who add clear value to my life and whom I’m honored to know.


Here’s a simple checklist of ways you can improve each and every one of your relationships. Using these steps you are sure to get an A+ grade on the cosmic assignment that every relationship represents:


1.  Be the light

2.  Be compassionate

3.  Be humble

4.  Be curious

5.  Be patient

6.  Be a source of love

7.  Be non-judgmental

8.  Be understanding

9.  Be non-reactionary

10.  Be sensitive and aware

11.  Don’t take things personally

12.  Be kind

13.  Be generous of spirit

14.  Be open-minded

15.  Be open-hearted

16.  Trust there’s a reasonable explanation for everything, even if you don’t know what that explanation is.

17.  Be tolerant

18.  Be forbearing

19.  Be forgiving

20.  Have a sense of humor and a ready smile

21.  Don’t be so quick to take offense

22.  Be at your best (it brings out the best in others)