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Finding the Best in People
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 • Posted June 23, 2010

Why do you have your friends? What is it about the people that surround you that drew you to them and made you want to make them a part of your life?

We are born into our families. For all the dynamics that occur within a family, you cannot choose your parents or your siblings. You are stuck, for better or worse, with the aunts, uncles and cousins that are part of your family. Your friends, however, you choose.

Some of our friends are based upon proximity. We befriend the people with whom we spend the greatest amount of time, and that understand us. That is why we so often have friends from our workplaces, and why so many of our coworkers come to know us so well. It is also why we become friends with classmates, since we share a life with them that is based upon shared experiences and lifestyles.

Often, we find friends from shared interests. We find those that enjoy fishing or hunting, and we find a way to spend time with them doing those things. Those interests can be art, the theater, sports or cooking. The friends in these relationships tend to be more diverse than with work or school friendships, as the people have more varied backgrounds.

And, sometimes, the reasons we become friends with someone are more elusive. On the surface, we may have very little in common. Our work environments may be very different, our backgrounds completely dissimilar, our interests very different. And yet, there is something about friendship that transcends those differences and makes us want to learn more about a person.

In my life, I've been very fortunate to have known many people. I'm friendly with a great number of them; but, count only a small number of them among those that I call "friend." And what a varied group they are!

Old, young. Rich, poor. Conservative, liberal. I look at my friends and see people who often are so unlike me that I wonder what it was that drew me to them. What about them made me want to spend the time and energy that it takes to develop a friendship, and then to continue to build that relationship through the years?

What I've come to realize is that all of them actually have a great deal more in common than it might appear. First and foremost, I find that they are all good people, with big hearts and loving souls. They're all people that, for whatever bravado and talk they might muster, are kind and loving people. No matter what kindnesses I might extend to them, they will return tenfold, and never keep count of where we stand.

They are also full of laughter and joy. Even when they have rough spots in their lives, they are able to find humor in the situation and don't let the bad times control their lives. Their ability to smile when the situation is grim enables me to keep going.

And, finally, they are smart. Maybe they know about electronics. It could be health matters or native plants. For some, it's just their ability to read the world around us and to anticipate what's going to occur. Intelligence comes in many forms and guises, and my friends possess it in spades. They keep me on my toes and make me be a better person by challenging what I think I know, and pushing me to learn more.

We may not choose our families; but, we do choose our friends. More importantly, our friends have chosen us, and that's what makes them most precious of all.

It’s all just my opinion.

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