There’s an old meditation expression that says, “bring everything onto the path.” We tend to live our lives thinking that everything (and everyone) who upsets us is somehow out of place and that if we could only change the situation (i.e., get rid of them) then we would find peace of mind.
But looking at life in this way is a recipe for disaster, or at the very least, unhappiness. In fact, it may well be worth considering a different approach altogether. Life is not how we think it should be, but rather how it is. As human beings, we experience the human condition, wrinkles and all. Living with others is part of that condition. Yes, sometimes we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by people we like, but at other times we have to live, work, or be with people we don’t like. [Editor's Note: This is when I use the SOS pack.] This is nothing to be ashamed of. After all, how could we possibly like everyone equally? Loving everyone equally is a different matter of course, as is respecting them, not wishing them harm, or perhaps even going so far as to wish them well. But liking them… sometimes it just doesn’t work out like that. So, what do we do when we end up working with someone we don’t like? Well, rather than end up with our head down, wrapped up in feelings of resentment or hostility, it’s far more skillful (and pleasant) to bring it on to the path, to make use of the situation, to better understand what it is that pushes your buttons, what it is you resist in that other person and, more broadly, how to use an otherwise painful situation to train the mind in awareness and compassion. Here are five ways to approach the situation—they are by no means mutually exclusive:
If we are training in mindfulness, then we are training in awareness. This requires us to take an active interest in that which we like (the things, places and people we may be attached to) and that which we dislike (the things, people and places we may have an aversion to). And it requires us to do this not only with genuine curiosity but with absolute honesty and zero censorship. This is not always easy, it might even be painful at times, but it is the one sure way to lasting peace of mind.