Keeping the peace in disagreements
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: My roommate and I are having a disagreement about a particular piece of artwork that she loves and I hate. It’s been quite a challenge. Do you have any advice?
Yes, I do. Generally, when a difference of opinion exists as to whether or not something in a common area is energetically supportive, consider reassigning the meaning of the item in question to represent the respect you have for each other.
For example, rate your dislike of the art on a scale of one to 10, with 10 representing the highest level of dislike. Then, ask your roommate to rate how much she likes the same piece of art, with 10 representing the highest level of like. If your level of dislike is lower than her level of like, compromise may be a little easier.
Next, ask yourself if you want peace between you enough to allow that art to represent your respect for each other. If so, and you agree to let it grace your wall, you have the opportunity to transform how you see it — no longer an eyesore, but a gift of friendship in order to promote harmony between the two of you.
Doing this exercise gives the art a new symbolic meaning. Each time you see it, it will remind you of the commitment to respect and desire for harmony that you have made with your roommate.
Every time she sees it, it will remind her of the respect you have for her. The art will have become a reminder of peace and harmony instead of an instigator of disharmony.
I have used this method with dozens of couples and those who live together successfully over the years, so I invite you both to try it and see if it can help you. Additionally, try to hang the artwork in an area that she frequents more than you, so you don’t have to see it as often.
The joys and challenges of living together
It never is easy to live with someone whose taste or style is completely different from yours, but stepping out of our own comfort zone and letting go of our ego can be expansive and a sign of growth. In every situation that upsets you, ask yourself what truly is important and put your focus on the bigger picture, not the minutia. As the late stand-up comedian George Carlin once said, “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.” Good advice.
Do you have a question for Alice? If so, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, a friendly educational establishment, where you’ll find inspiring classes geared toward personal growth and self-development. Visit YourHappinessU.com.