Finding One Thing You Like about Anyone

Stars at night

Another year has flown by and here we are. We’re in the midst of the festive season and all the socializing that comes with it.

Spending time with family and loved ones can be the best or the worst thing, depending on the nature of our relationships.

Strained relationships can be the source of more pain around the holidays. We don’t want to let our family down, but we don’t want to suffer either. And we struggle.

What if we did a simple thing this holiday season that might alleviate the pain, and reduce our resistance to highly charged emotional situations?

As a self-proclaimed expert in finding fault with myself, and others, I decided to try something different in my interactions this season (and probably after).

Instead of automatically dreading having to deal with a person, because of all the built-up negativity over the years, I’m going to look for one thing I like about them.

We always find what we’re looking for. So I’m not going to look for things that trigger the same judgment and negative emotions (a way to validate my pain and prove that I’m right). I’m going into the interaction with the intention of finding just one thing I like about the person.

Why look for one thing to like

By nature, or conditioning, we tend to focus on the negative. We store the pain of the past into the deep emotional vaults of our minds.

The mere thought of a person, or the slightest provocation, can trigger intense reactions.

Pain is meant to serve a purpose in our lives. When it’s there for no reason other than our story about it, it’s time to try something different.

Looking for one thing we like can be a way for us to stop focusing on the pain that doesn’t serve any purpose. It’s a way for us to remain open and willing to connect with someone in this moment without all the baggage and judgment of the past.

We can find something to like about anyone we deal with. It doesn’t have to be a grand redeeming trait that wipes the slate clean. It’s just one simple thing—any one thing.

Why one and not two or three? It’s all we need. We don’t want to turn a social experience into a complex mission. There is no need for lists of good qualities about each family member, or friend.

What’s the one good thing to uncover?

Some of the things we find might sound childish. And that’s okay. The subconscious likes silly and childish stuff.

We can look for things like:

  • My mother really knows how to fold napkins like a pro.
  • My father thinks the wireless router is possessed by a demon. LOL!
  • My partner laughed at my joke.
  • Ha! My friend licked her plate.
  • Who knew! My boss likes cat videos.
  • My sister is a dish washing ninja.

Other things might be more serious but as effective.

  • Jane showed up to every family gathering without fail. She’s really committed.
  • My cousin talks to my mother all the time. She truly cares.
  • John’s laughter is infectious.

When we find this one thing and think about it, we break the conditioned obsession with the negative.

Look for funny and silly things and you’ll find them. Look for small acts of kindness, someone giving you attention, or people simply showing up.

What might happen when you find one thing you like?

Aside from not dwelling in pain and feeling a little better, you’ll probably relax and maybe, just maybe, enjoy yourself.

You validate others without trying too hard. You’re with them and having a good time, or at least a decent time, without much drama.

And that can have a ripple effect on others relaxing around you, not feeling they need to defend, or explain, themselves. You will transform the experience for yourself and others, without much effort.

People are flawed. Am I in denial?

No. We’re not making stuff up, or excusing bad behavior.

We’re looking for what’s already there that we chose to ignore in the past. We’re focusing on the new instead of the old.

When we look beyond all the festive decorations, gifts, feasts, and past and present noise, we will see what the holidays are truly about: taking time to express our love and appreciation for the people who matter most to us.

Yes there maybe grievances about the past and the people we’re close to. After all no one is perfect. But no one is without something we can like—something we can appreciate and celebrate.