One of the greatest gifts and challenges of life is doing life with one another. Depending on your age or stage of life, you might have already experienced multiple opportunities to live with other people. Maybe you grew up in the same home your parents grew up in and have lived there ever since. Maybe you moved place to place and have had a life of transitions. Maybe now, after years of living, you’ve stayed in hostels and hotels, cities and countrysides, streets and sofas. Chances are, people were around. Perhaps it was a good exposure to humanity, perhaps it was scarring.

To live well together, you must establish some ground rules.

1. Be open minded

This affects who you’ll meet and how you’ll meet them. Go into situations without the inhibitions of stereotypes and prejudices. Think about your first friend group and your friend group now. Are you all from the same place? Are you all in the same stage of life? It’s not a bad thing, but it can definitely limit the way you view and interact with other people. Life is so much larger than how you view it.

2. Discover your values

You know those lists we make of other people? Like what we look for in a partner or friend? What are those values you cherish in others and are those what people would be able to find in yourself? Loyalty, compassion, honesty, integrity. The ability to make you laugh, the ability to express deeply, the ability to encourage personally. Are these characteristics easily found in you?

3. Do things together

Sometimes we come home to the people who we expect to just always be there. So, we take them for granted. Take the time to visit national parks, discover coffee shops, explore new places. Serve often together at a local food bank. Start making traditions together, from the littlest things to larger things as your friendships gradually become older.

4. Have hard conversations

Tension can arise when things go left unsaid and are messily buried beneath the surface. One way to avoid that is to be gentle in confrontations. Initiate communication, but always be open to dialogue. Discussions based on disagreements and agreements will allow you to broaden your perspective and help you better understand the other person. Just because the conversation is hard, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

5. Really get to know the other person

What they like or don’t like, favorite color and food, habits and hobbies, personality types and love languages. The more we get to know each other over time in a natural way, the more we are able to give and receive love that is tailored to one another. It helps us identify the details or the things that would instead go unnoticed or unappreciated had we not made the effort to learn those mannerisms, quirks and features in the first place.

These are a few ways to better foster a multi-dimensional community. To live well together, we must learn how to love and learn from one another. Community is part of the human experience. So, let’s experience life well together.