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7 Tips for Life’s Greatest Challenge: Love Your Enemies

Norman Vincent Peale shares Scripture and tips to help you like the difficult people in your life.

Teach Us to Love
Credit: p_ponomareva

When you really make up your mind to like people—difficult people—it becomes easier to do just that. Liking people and having them like you is important not only to your happiness, but to your welfare and success in life as well. We live in a world of people, and what they think about us is involved in how well we do with life.

So, let’s begin to practice liking people. How? Try these steps:

1. Start the day with a prayer of thanks for all your relationships.
While dressing, say to yourself, “I am going to like people today and enjoy every personal contact. I am going to like him and her, and this person and that person,” and continue to list everyone with whom you associate. Run over in your mind some of the people you love best. Visualize their faces, recall happy experiences with them, and thank God for them.

2. Practice liking people that are hard to like
Bring up into your thoughts relationships that need improving and affirm that you want to like these people. The fact that this may be a challenge does not mean it should not be done. Hard disciplines are good for the soul. They develop spiritual “muscle.” The more victories in liking people you experience, the stronger and happier you will be today and every day.

3. Focus on the positive.
After you have taken the first step of making up your mind to like him or her, list whatever likeable qualities you can see in him. Start adding them up. This will predispose you toward liking him the same way that adding up the negatives has previously disposed you against him. As you proceed on this affirmative basis, you will be amazed at the previously unrealized attractive qualities the other person possesses. In time, you might even attain the attitude of the late Will Rogers who said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.”

4. Use good words.
Say something good about the person you are trying to “like,” and say it as often and to as many people as possible. Be sure you are honest in so doing and not merely engaging in a strategy to gain a personal benefit.

5. Truly want what is good for difficult people.
Deliberately practice sending out thoughts of good will, love and esteem to the person you have not liked or who does not like you. There is a powerful transmission force in such directed thought done in the person’s presence or even in absentia. No spoken words are necessary. This goodwill communicates itself and stimulates reciprocal goodwill responses from the other individual. Do this every day. Also, hold a mental picture of your friendly thought “reaching” the other.

6. Never accept your tendency to dislike anyone.
Develop a genuine distaste for unfriendliness as a guard against slipping into a state of hostility. Constantly drain off accumulated dislike. Do this regularly until it is gone completely and for good.

7. Practice the great spiritual and practical technique of the Scriptures.
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Constant, sincere, loving prayer ultimately dissolves hate and ill will. One of the most likeable men I ever knew is an executive of a big company in the Midwest. He likes everyone and everyone, it seems, likes him. I asked him how this liking attitude of his had developed. “Well,” he replied, “I remind myself that every person is a child of God, and is of great value. And I try always to put the best possible connotation on everything he does or says. As a result, I get to liking him, and I guess he takes a liking to me, too.”

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