Maintain one good friend who revels in telling you that you're full of hooey. When you get to the top of the heap, nothing you hear is true (or, at least the whole truth). Keeping things in perspective is very, very difficult. The difficulty is directly proportional to the size of the heap you're sitting atop.
The best defense is one good, no-bullshit buddy. It can be a spouse. It can be a college roommate you talk to three times a year. But somewhere, somehow, you've got to keep in touch with reality. A person who can laugh at you -- and making you laugh at yourself. When Roman senators addressed the masses, they'd have an underling stand behind them whose sole job it was to lean over and repeat: "Remember you're mortal."
Quite simply, no matter how hard you try, no matter how "open" you are, you'll end up surrounded by "yes people." It's hard not to believe people who are repeating your own ideas. Resist the temptation.
When we try to explain the complexity of what we see to others who demand that things be laid out in straight paths, they often become resistent and critical... when our viewpoint repeatedly falls on deaf ears, we become silent - avoid confrontation. One source of human suffering arises when our words and actions are perceived, by those we serve or love, in a light of being different from that intended.
Our smile will bring happiness to us and to those around us. Even if we spend a lot of money on gifts for everyone in our family, nothing we buy could give them as much happiness as the gift of our awareness, our smile. And this precious gift costs nothing. At the end of a retreat in California, a friend wrote this poem:
I have lost my smile, but don't worry. The dandelion has it.
If you have lost your smile and yet are still capable of seeing that a dandelion is keeping it for you, the situation is not too bad. You still have enough mindfulness to see that the smile is there.
You only need to breathe consciously one or two times and you will recover your smile. The dandelion is one member of your community of friends. It is there, quite faithful, keeping your smile for you.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Source: Peace Is Every Step : The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life