Christmas and New Year came and went. And as always, we were busy meeting friends, exchanging gifts and wishing everyone happy holidays.

I realized we are blessed to have so many friends. Year after year their friendship feels more and more important.

I really thought about the friends we have and came to a surprising conclusion. If I met many of them today, I might not even try actively to be their friends. I would be friendly, yes, but I probably would not try to become real friends with them. During the holidays I noticed how very different we are, how some friends actually had rather annoying characteristics. And yet those characteristics did not seem to bother me.

Why was that? Why did these annoying characteristics press my buttons when I noticed them in other people - but not so when I saw them in our friends?

I realized this would be a good subject for a newsletter, but let me tell you it wasn't easy to figure out how to write about it! I made many drafts, but didn't quite grasp the right words.

I began by reaching for the memories of how our friends had entered our life in the first place.

My oldest friend I met when I was only six years old - we had been living in the same block of flats for months but I had not seen her before. One winter morning we went skating and as it happened we fell on the ice at the same time - on the same spot. Those giggles started a friendship that has lasted for decades - my husband and I are the godparents of both her daughters now. It is such a joy to have a friend who understands you from half a sentence.

Another friend I met when he was engaged to someone I knew at the university. The engagement broke long time ago, he met someone else and is now married - and we are the godparents of his younger son. And friends of the whole family of course.

Other good friends are our ex-neighbours. They just "happened" to live next door. (The " " is because I don't think there is such a thing as a coincidence…)

One good friend was working in the same department with me in the past. And we have been corresponding and meeting for lunch ever since.

So what was common in all of these friends? Why are their "annoying" characteristics ok?

Finally I came to the conclusion that it had to do with me actively not trying to become friends with them. They were all people who had just appeared in my life. Moved next to us. Worked for the same employer. Were connected to someone whom I knew. I met them often, accepted that they were a part of my life, and did not think much of it.

In other words: I accepted them as they were. I was not interested in changing them. I guess that wanting to change others is something we all do at times - demand that other people behave in a way that makes us happy, when in fact we should concentrate in finding happiness within ourselves. Not to easiest thing to do, I admit. But trying to control others just leads to unhappiness for the simple reason it cannot be done. An eternal source of stress, trying to make other behave the way you want…

But with these people I just let them be who they were. And how do you behave towards someone who accepts you as you are? Well - you are friendly towards them. You like being liked. And with time this may deepen into true friendship.

This had happened to us. Not judging others has been rewarded thousand fold. Instead of having annoying people in our lives, we now had a long list of wonderful friends.

So if it is enough to gain wonderful friends simply by stopping to judge people, don't you think that would be worth trying? I'm not saying everyone will be your friend - some may even behave negatively towards you, but if you don't judge them for that, it doesn't bother you much. Live and let live, as the saying goes.

Or in the words of William Butler Yeats:

"There are no strangers here - only friends you haven't yet met."

And if you feel judgement rising its head, just say to yourself: "I don't need to have an opinion about this". Magical words, if you try them… Just try it for one day. Every time you feel like judging someone, stop and say: "I don't need to have an opinion about this". I bet you feel a sense of relief. (Do you? I'd love to hear your experiences about this. Write to me about your experiences with this method - I'd love to add your stories to my website and will attribute anything I use to you, if that is OK with you.)

And also remember that what ever is "annoying" in another person doesn't really tell a thing about them. But it speaks volumes about you. The things that are annoying in other people are the very things you have problems with within yourself. You could say other people are mirrors that tell you where your own areas of development are. Quite a gift from them, don't you think?

So lets give each other some space, drop the need to judge others behaviour and let them live their lives as they choose. Makes it a lot easier for us to do the same - and as a special bonus, you may find friends in the most unexpected places!

I wish you the best New Year - may it be filled with friendship!

Leena :)

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Leena Pekkalainen is a writer who specializes in inspirational short stories that uplift the reader. You will find her stories and positive attitude tips at

This article about Lucia was first published in Inspirational Short Stories newsletter.

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