As you start this week, may you be mindful of the people put in your life that surround you with good. Take note of the details of these people—the way they hold themselves, how they listen, the color and mood they seem to represent, the beauty that’s found deep within everyone.

May you remember to look at people as people, and not as projects, or as conduits for your productivity. May you resist the temptation to rush through relationships in order to find the prize, or to check off your list “coffee with a friend.” Slow down, listen well, and bravely ask more questions than talk about yourself. Show that you care.

And when good questions are asked you by a good friend, don’t be afraid to answer honestly. Be a true friend by being real, and don’t be afraid to cry. Or laugh until you snort.

And if you feel lonely? Be that good friend to someone else, even if that “someone else” doesn’t quite feel like a kindred spirit. Do your best to be be patient in the waiting—you might be surprised at what you find. Loneliness is often used to build our character in profound ways we don’t notice until we’re on the other side.

All people—friends, spouses, parents, children, neighbors—are gifts in some form. Embrace their offering in your life, whatever that may be.

This post was first published on June 10, 2013.