"So what was it like?" he asked.
"It was different," she said.
Without even knowing what the conversation was about, the person who asked the question and anyone reading that short exchange likely assumed whatever the it was, wasn't very good. Somewhere along the line of the evolution of language, between losing the Oxford comma and misunderstanding the true meaning of "literally", the word "different" has become synonymous with "bad". In relationships and politics and social issues and child-rearing, encountering 'different' has come to mean 'unfavorable'.
I think we're losing an opportunity to not only allow people to be themselves, but also to ease burdens and learn new things.
When a family member is raising their kids differently than you are, there's no room for judgment or offense -- we're not raising our kids differently because one way is more right or better than the other, but because we are different people with different needs and different tolerances.
Let it be.
When a co-worker approaches a project in a different way, it's not because your way is wrong. She is a different person with different ideas, and maybe by combining your approaches and acquiescing to not being 100% in control, an infinitely better product will be created.
Let it be.
When your friend has concrete ideas which are different than yours about religion, gender, climate change, the second amendment, or Yankees vs. Red Sox, maybe we could hear the humanity behind the hubris and realize that their different opinion is not a bad opinion. Just a different one.
Let it be.
This has nothing to do with winning people over to your side, making people see what you believe is THE truth, or anything like that. It's about being a decent and kind human being. It's about extending to others the attitude of kindness and love and compassion.
It can be difficult to interact with someone whose way of being is so different than our own. We get caught up in this idea that to be right and to be good and to be worthy, things and people need to be a certain way, and that certain way is the way we are. But that shouldn't be. As humans, as grown-up humans, we should be able to LET IT BE. Channel the Beatles if you have to, but --
dig deep for that empathy, for that compassion, for that part of you that says, 'Their way of life has no bearing on mine. They're different from me, and I'm going to let it be.'
[As a socially responsible disclaimer, the ideas presented above do not extend to extreme ideologies which are dangerous, unhealthy, and/or physically, emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically damaging.]