While we might not like the lesson, everyone we meet and interact with is a teacher.

Teachers come in all kinds of packages. While we might like our life lessons to be associated with beautiful locations filled with pleasant people that are equally delightful to look at and hang with, this isn’t reality. A fact of real life is that the teachers that really put us to the test are those whom we find annoying throughout our day. These are the folks that say and do things we’d ‘never’ say or do. Those with traits we so very much dislike. Those who act in ways we find annoying, distasteful, outlandish or basically unacceptable. These are our gurus. They are teaching us lessons about ourselves and life in countless ways.

When our beliefs clash with others, this is when we really have to stop:  And then, breathe our way to greater acceptance of the other…and dare I suggest…ourselves, as well.

Acceptance doesn’t mean that we have to like whatever has irked us. Rather it means we try to recognize it as a sign of suffering and maybe we can see another human (as are we), working through their own journey.

In life, we don’t get to only connect with those we think are groovy & cool. Everyday life requires interactions with every kind of person. And, each interaction deserves our respect and peaceful response, which may be best displayed by our silence while quietly (without drama) taking several deep breaths. Not easy. But that’s why zen…which means ‘a mind not fixed and open to everything’ is called a ‘practice.’ We practice so that when the moments arrive, maybe we’ll be just a little better each time at being kind and understanding of another in this game called Life.

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