Your ability to have good, warm relationships with people depends on your ability to see the good in people. It is a very hard practice, and not one that can be learned over night, or even over the course of a year. However, if we can do this, I think we will be able to experience great joy and intimacy in life. And it will not be a joy that comes from your circumstances, but rather, a joy that overflows from your heart.
I believe that the best way to have good, warm friendships with all people is by keeping each person at the right distance. What does “the right distance” mean? This is the distance you need to stay from a person where you do not feel familiar or comfortable enough to discuss their negative qualities. The distance it takes for you to still wish the best for that person.
I believe that all people are good. And I believe that you can see all people as good if you experience your friendship at the right distance.
This distance can vary greatly from friend to friend. You may find that some people you can tolerate less, and some you can tolerate more . However, I do believe that this is more of a reflection of who you are than who they are. There are some people you feel comfortable to discuss their bad qualities without knowing them at all (your tolerance for them is very low), and there are some that seem to be wonderful at first and then you get to know them and suddenly have this inescapable feeling that somehow they are not as good as they seem. It is these feelings that come from us that kill the warmth in our friendships.
So in each case, if you find yourself comfortable enough to contemplate and discuss a persons flaws, you need to distance yourself from this relationship. This can be done on a physical level, where you physically spend less time with the person. This means you start to take yourself away from situations where you experience certain bad qualities in a person, and put yourself in a position where you can see the good that they do.
It can also be done on a mental level where you have to try to “See the person from far away”. It is like looking at a person with your physical eyes. When you come very close to them, their blemishes and flaws are clear, and unavoidable. The further away you look at them, the more fuzzy and less clear their blemishes are. And you are in a better position to see the bigger picture. In this way, we can start to focus less on their blemishes and flaws, and try very hard to not consider them important. And instead see them from further away, keep going further and further until you can see what a good impact they are having on their surroundings.
You may feel that this is can be a cold way of experiencing “warmth” in friendship, and that by always keeping people at a distance you won’t be able to experience any real intimacy in your relationships.
But there is no intimacy like the kind that allows someone to be completely themselves, while you only focus on their good qualities. When a person is given this unconditional love and acceptance, they will blossom, and each of you will be able to experience the best version of each other.
The secret is that you don’t have to keep doing this forever. You just have to keep doing this until seeing the good in people becomes natural for you. Over time you will become good at finding the sweet distance you need to keep each friend at, and slowly you will begin to generate the internal strength you need to accept and love people as they are. When this comes to you, you will be able to bring people closer without judgement and criticism. It will only be then that I think we become deserving of bringing people closer to you, to know them at a deeper and more meaningful level- when we know that we have the strength to love and accept them just the way they are.
This can be done with all people in your life. Every person you meet has a place in your life. Some are far away. Some stay closer. But you are the one who can decide at which distance they should be at on a heart level. If you circumstances are such that you have to live your day to day life closely with someone (a colleague at work etc) that you struggle to see their goodness, then you can still find the spiritual distance you need to find harmony. It is all inner work.
I think it is always important to pay particular attention to small things that tend to deteriorate in relationships as familiarity deepens (As they say “familiarity breeds contempt”). For example, always keep your manners and politeness. Respect other peoples time by being punctual, pay back debts as fast as you can, ask for their permission and blessings in regards to issues that concern them, and always try to be a good listener. These are all small things that formality in the initial stages of friendship building forces us to do, but over time, it becomes easy to overlook.
Thank you for reading