Dear friend,

I love mangoes. Yet I often can’t tell which ones are sweet and which ones sour.

Color isn’t always a useful guide. Some mangoes are perfectly ripe when green; others may already be yellow, orange, or red, yet their mealy starches haven’t turned into simple sugars.

Fragrance and consistency are a bit more reliable. A perfectly ripe mango often has a savory, sweet aroma, particularly near the stem. Softer texture also signals ripening.

Of all the tests, however, the most definitive is the obvious one: Taste a slice. You either taste heaven or regret the loss of a dollar.

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My response to a sour mango is to escort it to the garbage can, wash my mouth, and try the next one, hoping it will be lush with fructose. I keep trying until I find one that is willing to pamper my palate.

I wonder if our relationships are also like that. Many of your colleagues, friends, and loved ones are sweet (kind), but some are sour. You can’t spot the sour or the bitter ones ahead of time. When you face such people, you minimize your contact, try your best so they don’t linger in your mind, and as soon as feasible, move on to someone kinder. Even though they tend to leave an unpleasant aftertaste, life goes on.

But what do you do with those sour ones you cannot avoid? They may be close family members, friends, colleagues or neighbors. If you have nothing but unsavory mangoes in your pantry, what are you going to do? Here is what I do.

I sprinkle the slices with honey. The sour taste doesn’t go away, but I feel less of it. As a result, the slices become a little more palatable.

Sprinkle the honey of gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness on the sour people in your life, recognizing and knowing fully well that their inherent nature won’t change any time soon.

I wish the world were perfect, and every fruit was fully ripe. But the world isn’t perfect; you are sure to run into bitter specimens, possibly this week. A good strategy is to avoid the unsavory ones best you can, savor the sweet and kind ones, and if you’re faced with someone sour and bitter that you can’t avoid, sprinkle some honey — the honey of gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness.

Consider applying this idea to one of your relationships this week.

Take care,

Amit

Dr. Amit Sood answers your questions about stress, resilience, happiness, relationships, and related topics in his column. Email dearfriend@postbulletin.com.