The importance of friendships

It wasn’t too long ago that I read this quote for the first time…

“It is not a lack of love,
but a lack of friendship
that makes unhappy marriages.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~

Friendships are quite important and obviously remaining friends in a marriage is of utmost importance. It is crucial that the husband and wife are best friends who share a marriage based on honesty, respect, loyalty, communication and love. Thinking back to my failed relationships, I can see how we stopped being best friends and it caused a huge wedge which eventually was part of the reason that our partnership ended.

Even though your spouse is your best friend, you also need someone of your own gender to be your best friend too. According to research, it is even more important for women to have another female friend than it is for a man to have a male friend. The friendships between the genders are dramatically different and anthropologists have determined that the main reason for the difference is that women share an intimacy in the relationship and men share an experience for camaraderie that isn’t based on intimacy.

“A friend is a gift you give yourself.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson ~

22 Reasons, Why Is It Important To Have A Good Friend?

I’ve been a nerdy loner most of my life, but until a few years ago I had never experienced a relationship with a best friend like I now enjoy with Joan Oshatz. Since Joan lives in Hollywood, California, and I live in Richmond, Virginia, all I can say is thank goodness the telephone was invented! Distance does not hamper our friendship and we talk to each other at least every other day.

There are so many reasons that it is important to have a really good friend. Let me tell you some of them…

  1. A Good Friend Helps You Feel Less Lonely – Although there are billions of people on the planet, sometimes you can feel overwhelmed with loneliness. A good friend reflects life back to you and with all the things you have in common, being alone doesn’t feel as lonely.
  2. A Good Friend Listens Attentively – Even if you are boring or you’ve already told the story before, a good friend will listen attentively and give you feedback. Why do they listen attentively? They listen because they care and have a desire to hear what you’re saying. You’re never just noise to a good friend. They appreciate you taking the time to tell them whatever is on your mind.
  3. A Good Friend Reduces Stress – Being with or talking to a good friend can calm you down and reduce the stress you feel. By being able to bounce thoughts and ideas off them, you feel more peace about yourself and your place in the world.
  4. A Good Friend Improves Your Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem – Your number one fan is your best friend. They will tell you how great they think you are without holding back. They are able to point out your good points and help you feel better about yourself by boosting your confidence level. The friendship validates your existence and that alone is a self-esteem booster.
  5. A Good Friend Loves And Cares For You – You are important to a good friend and they value your friendship. A good friend loves and cares for you and isn’t shy about telling you exactly how they feel.
  6. “A friend is someone who knows all about you
    and still loves you.”
    ~ Elbert Hubbard ~

  7. A Good Friend Gives A New Perspective – Sometimes you can put on blinders and become narrow minded. However, it is easy to drop all your preconceived beliefs and look at everything from a new perspective when a good friend points you in that direction. Often it is from another’s eyes that you will actually be able to solve your greatest problems.
  8. A Good Friend Is Trustworthy – Being able to trust someone is a valuable gift and brings peace into your life. A good friend would never betray the trust you have in them.
  9. A Good Friend Provides A Reality Check – If you begin to act like a crazy person, a good friend will pull you back down to Earth in a heartbeat.
  10. A Good Friend Supports Your Dreams And Goals – No matter how big your dreams or how far away your goals, a good friend believes in you. They believe that you are wonderful and can accomplish anything you set your mind to doing. They are right there with you, supporting you in every way possible to attain your dreams and find success with your goals. They also find a way to steadily push you to accomplishing what they know you want to accomplish.
  11. “Our chief want in life, is,
    someone who shall make us do what we can.
    This is the service of a friend.
    With him we are easily great.”
    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

  12. A Good Friend Is Loyal – Just like a dog or an old slipper, a good friend will be loyal to you. They will defend you and tell everyone that you are the greatest without even blinking. If they have to, they will bite your enemies. Well, not really bite them, but they will defend you to the bitter end!
  13. A Good Friend Helps You Connect On A Deeper Level – Face it, life can get tough. A good friend is totally on your side and since you can be yourself with them, there is a deeper connection that goes beyond words. You are understood, valued and loved.
  14. A Good Friend Is Fun And You Laugh Often Together – Being with or talking to your good friend is fun and you both laugh often together. Not only do you laugh, but you laugh until your sides hurt and tears are pouring out of your eyes. Yes, having a good friend is a fun experience.
  15. A Good Friend Likes The Real You – You don’t have to have your makeup on, hair perfect or suck in your stomach when you’re with your best friend because they totally accept you, the real you. If you enjoy wearing long john pajamas or a dress that looks like a whole family will fit into it because you’re more comfortable that way, your true friend just doesn’t mind. They know what matters is on the inside and not all the superficial stuff on the outside.
  16. “A friend is a person with whom
    I may be sincere.
    Before him, I may think aloud.”
    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

  17. A Good Friend Respects Differences – You will have a lot of things that are totally the same as your best friend, but there may be issues or beliefs that are completely opposite as yours and that’s okay. A good friend respects the differences between you and it does not affect the friendship because you care sincerely for the person.
  18. A Good Friend Helps You Cope With Bad Times – Whether you are going through a divorce, job loss, health issues or trying to cope with a death, a good friend will be there for you during the bad times too. Even if they are just a shoulder to cry on, you can depend on their support through the tough times.
  19. A Good Friend Encourages Positive Change – A good friend doesn’t hold your bad traits against you, but they encourage you to make positive changes in your life like to quit smoking, stop drinking excessively, to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, eat healthy or simply to recognize the beauty in your life. A good friend is a positive addition to your life.
  20. A Good Friend Is Honest – A good friend will always give you an honest answer to the question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” Yes, a good friend is honest with you at all times and you can count on their honesty because it isn’t an attack to your character.
  21. “We are all travelers in the
    wilderness of this world,
    and the best we can find in our travels
    is an honest friend.”
    ~ Robert Louis Stevenson ~

  22. A Good Friend Shares Life Lessons – A good friend helps you to grow whether in the knowledge of how to do something or in progressing inside as a person. They want to spare you pain and help you get ahead, so they share all they know about life.
  23. A Good Friend Is Always On Your Side – A good friend doesn’t have to agree with you on every issue, but they will stand with you through thick and thin, good times and bad, happy moments and the most sad or depressing moments in your life. Whether they think you are right or wrong, they still stand beside you.
  24. A Good Friend Can Relate – A good friend has experienced many of the same things as you have, so they can relate with how you feel about an issue or circumstance. They know what it feels like to have a broken heart, the sadness of the death of someone close or the excitement of a long awaited vacation. They have felt the same emotions and they know the path you are on and can totally relate with your journey.
  25. A Good Friend Increases Happiness – Having a good friend adds happiness to your life. A friendship is a positive relationship that adds great value to your life. A good friend doesn’t argue with you all the time, betray your trust, disrespects you or hurts you in any way.
  26. A Good Friend Improves Your Mental Health – It is true that a good friend improves your mental health because you feel understood, loved and not alone. Those feelings inspire peace in your life, within your soul and in your mind.

“It’s the friends you can call up
at 4 a.m. that matter.”
~ Marlene Dietrich ~

Marlene Dietrich said so much in the quote I just shared with you. It can be 4:00 in the morning, but if your heart is breaking or your happiness is overflowing, you don’t have to think twice before you pick up the phone to share it with your good friend. The time of day is irrelevant because your friendship is timeless and ageless.

All 22 reasons that it is important to have a good friend and all the characteristics of a good friendship is what I share with Joan. Although we live 3,000 miles away, she is always there for me and vice versa. We both feel great gratitude at having met each other and it has made us both better people.

A good friend always wants the best for you and your family. They would never intentionally hurt you and their friendship is a priceless gift. Joan has been a priceless gift in my life and I dearly love her and her talented son, Brandon Peters. Thank you both for loving me back.

“A friend who is far away
is sometimes much nearer
than one who is at hand.”
~ Gibran Khalil Gibran ~

Why It’s Important To Have Good Friends In Your Life

The majority of Generation-Y possesses the habit of being anti-social. Everyday, I experience someone stating or showing why they can’t trust people. I have found that Gen-Yers have a tendency to act as if everyone is out to get us. We seem to walk around with our guards up when in social environments like no one is genuinely interested in getting to know who we are, but rather, everyone already has a preconceived negative notion of whom we are.

A lot of people in today’s society may have loose screws in their heads, but trust me, not everybody is out to get you. Believe it or not, people do exist outside of our families and closest friends who are rooting for our success. It’s great to have a good circle of supportive friends. Friends play a huge role in your life. The friends that you surround yourself with help build and shape you into the person you are, as you help shape them into the people they are.

You endure all with your friends, from the good times to the bad times, to the craziest times of your life. But through all of the struggles and disagreements, you create a strong bond with a group of individuals who all want the same thing in life: to live a successful life and be surrounded by successful people.

I hear people often say that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself. I do agree that certain things are solely for the self, and being alone isn’t necessarily a negative. There are periods in our lives when being alone is needed in order for personal growth. There are times when we just have to focus on ourselves, learn to enjoy our own company and learn to love ourselves. However, if you find yourself becoming a loner, with very little friends as your support group, this is when it becomes alarming.

In reality, no one wants to be alone, at least not forever. When you surround yourself with a group of individuals you can call your friends and individuals you can rely on, it’s as if you have both a team and a support system that’s in it for you for the long haul. Spending time with your friends, you will learn your likes, dislikes, how you deal with situations, etc. You will slowly better understand yourself and the people you connect with best.

Make sure your social circle is made up of individuals you can count on and trust. Especially when you’re dealing with hard times, you need friends that will be there for you when you need them the most and ones that will not judge you for the good or bad decisions you make. You will easily discover who your real friends are when you’re down and out.

There might come times when friends who you thought would be there forever end up being negative factors in your life. This is okay. There are genuine, good friends out there. You live and you learn. They can help you become motivated, they can help you with your current situations, whether its school work, problems with the opposite sex, or even the closest personal issues. Your circle of friends will always have your back. Plus, the best memories are always created when you’re around your most special friends.

With your inner circle of homies, you will create the best of times, the times you will look back on years later and still burst out laughing. The kind of times you will tell your kids about. You also learn to appreciate the good people who still exist in this world because of your friends.

We’re all here on this planet to not only make something of ourselves, but also to leave our mark in the most memorable manner. It’s our job to touch those around us with our friendship and support. You can help change how your friends live their lives, how they bounce back from the lowest of times, and how they learn to love themselves.

As we meet new people and expand our social circles, we will encounter individuals from all walks of life, all with unique stories to tell and personalities to share. These people will help us in more ways than we can imagine, but mostly, they will help us to broaden our outlook on life. It’s true that people will come and go all throughout your life, but there will always be those who are here to stay.

You don’t have to have a huge entourage of friends; in the end, you will be able to count your most genuine, trustworthy friends on one hand. This life is about the people you share it with; make the most of it. Surround yourself with good people and always be a good person in return.

Top Photo Courtesy: CW/Gossip Girl

Best friends forever? Why having a close confidante makes life easier—and more fun.

We all know how important friends are. There are friends we go for coffee with, friends we shop with and friends we head to the gym with. But despite having a pal for every occasion, having a best friend is a huge bonus in life. Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, a registered marriage and family therapist, offers some insight into what makes the bond between best friends so special — and so important.

1. Comfort
A best friend is someone you don’t have to fill in the blanks with. They already know all the inner details of your life. “It’s like picking up a book and knowing exactly where you left off,” Belleghem says. You can cut to the chase and get right to the meat of any discussion because all the background information has already been stored away.

2. Connectedness
One of our most basic fears is being alone, Belleghem explains. Whether your best friend is around the corner or in another time zone, just knowing she is there provides comfort. “It gives you a sense of being connected and not just free-floating in space,” she says. So if you find yourself feeling isolated, whether physically or emotionally, pick up the phone and call your closest pal. Both of you will feel better for it.

3. Unconditional support
You have yet to shower or even brush your hair and your best friend calls. She’s upset and wants you to come over right away. What do you do? You get in the car without even changing — because you don’t have to. Best friends have seen us at our best and worst, and they love us either way. It’s important to have someone in our lives we feel totally at ease with, Belleghem explains. Someone we can be ourselves with — sweats and all.

4. Self-esteem boost
Good friends help us to develop our self-esteem, says Belleghem. “Having someone in our life who thinks we are important — someone who wants our opinion on things and who values our company — makes us feel wanted, boosting self-esteem,” she explains.

5. Honest opinions
Best friends will also be totally honest with us, Belleghem says. They know you well and are able to tell it like it is. So thank your best friend the next time she looks you in the eye, shakes her head and suggests you rethink a possibly silly decision. She’s got your best interests at heart.

6. A fresh perspective
We are all individuals, with different experiences and opinions, but having a best friend to share things with can help us learn new things about ourselves. The things they share with us can open our eyes to new ideas and ways to think about the world around us, explains Belleghem. “By bringing a fresh perspective to a problem, things have a better chance of changing,” she says. Best friends can help us find those “A-ha!” moments that lead to solving problems.

7. Life lessons
When a close friend does something you disagree with, you’re more likely to confront them and discuss what has upset you than if it’s a person you aren’t as familiar with. Getting through this with a close friend helps to prepare you for other times in life where you will need to face a difficult situation, Belleghem explains. “Now you have this skill in your life skills bag,” she says.

8. Loyalty
Loyalty means never having to worry about someone spilling your secrets or talking about you behind your back. Best friends equal built-in trust, Belleghem explains. Most likely, you’ve spent years building your bond, which just gets stronger over time. “A loyal friend will be on your team no matter what. They will be honest with you, but won’t betray you,” she says.

9. Personal growth
Having a best friend means sharing experiences, Belleghem explains. Sometimes, when we get stuck in our own routines, it’s nice to hear about what other people are doing. “A close friend of mine who didn’t have kids opened my eyes to new things,” Belleghem says. Often we can live vicariously through our close friends and learn about things we may not have thought about doing.

10. The best sounding board
One of the greatest things about having a best friend is being able to share—everything. They are the ones to whom we tell things we wouldn’t dream of telling anyone else—our greatest fears and biggest mistakes. Being able to share these intimate details about our lives helps to normalize whatever has happened, Belleghem explains. “Fear or discomfort is diffused when you share it with a friend,” she says.

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The dos and don’ts of being a good friend

By: Colleen Tully

Making friends is easy—staying friends is the challenge! Keep your best friends close with a few rules for being a good friend.

Photo Credit: Shannon Lee Miller

Free time today is sacred, a precious commodity that so many of us worry about spending well. Too often, the time we have outside the office is polluted by the anxiety of getting the necessities done: laundry, exercise, grocery shopping, sleeping, and prepping for the next day. With all these things to do, finding time for yourself is hard, but making time for your friends is even harder.

The thing is, making time to nourish our friendships is important for our health, happiness, and overall life balance. Luckily, spending quality time with friends can be productive personal time as well. You may not be able to simultaneously veg out on the couch and get in a workout (as so many of us wish we could), but you can definitely hang with your bestie and check off your to-do list at the same time. That’s right, you can have your friends and clean laundry, too!

Here are ten ideas to help you amp up the “quality” in quality time.

01. Throw an ‘Inbox Zero’ party.

Yes, those thousands of emails will be organized, categorized, filed, or deleted. Going through with friends can be a creative way to make something painful actually fun. Read ridiculous subject lines and reminisce about your past, all while in the company of your BFFs. Need a strategy to wipe out the excess? Try one of these tips from Inc.

02. Work out together.

Arrange for a friend to meet you at the track, trail, gym, or yoga studio, and check that exercise box together. This two-birds-with-one-stone approach gets endorphins flowing from both the exercise and the companionship. Another great aspect of arranging after-work exercise dates is that you get to skip the early morning workout and sleep in for a change.

03. Cook dinner for the week.

What’s better than having a home-cooked meal and lots of leftovers for the week? Plan a cooking night together to catch up and create a delicious meal that will last you throughout the week.

04. Organize a clothes swap.

Host a clothes swap. You and your girlfriends most likely have piles of clothes you want to get rid of, so organize a party for exchanging. You can donate the remaining clothes to a local women’s shelter or other charitable organization afterward, such as Dress for Success.

05. Go to a TED Talk.

Most of us have “stay in touch with the world” or something along those lines on our to-do lists. If you’re looking to stay in touch, attend a TED Talk—or any other local panel or talk—with a friend. This is a great opportunity to learn something new, practice your small-talk/mingling/networking skills, and spend quality time with a friend all at once.

06. Host a nail night.

That polish you’ve had on your toes has seen better days, probably in part because it can be a little boring to give your toes the TLC they need (there’s nothing wrong with some quality magazine time though!). Hitting up the salon is always a great group event, or better yet, do it yourself at home. Have everyone bring a bottle, and finally test out some of those trends you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest.

07. Volunteer.

Another more aspirational thing on our to-do lists is to get involved in our community and volunteer—unfortunately this is the item that most often falls by the wayside. Get a friend to commit a day to work at a soup kitchen or nursing home. Or just grab a trash bag and some gloves with your girls, and go out into your neighborhood for a couple hours of beautification. It will feel great to finally do those good deeds you’ve been thinking of, and your friends will be happy you recruited them, too.

08. Have a yard sale.

This is a great way to get rid of all the stuff that might not be junk but that you really just don’t need. Get a bunch of your friends to pool all that “stuff”—wonky Ikea tables and old college cutlery—for a one-weekend extravaganza. It will be a bit of a project, but when the day is done, you will feel clutter-free and have a little extra cash or maybe even a new tradition to share with your friends.

09. Plan a reading date.

We all wish we had more time to read. Well, set aside a night for it, and do it with friends. Find a cozy spot, and bring a book for fun. Better yet, get started on the same book, and make it an impromptu book club.

10. Start a monthly Laundromat meeting.

You might have a washing machine at your place, but the huge ones at the coin wash can do some serious washing and drying for big-ticket items such as sheets, comforters, throw blankets, and pillow covers. According to the American Cleaning Institute, you should be doing your sheets every two weeks, so rather than waiting with a crossword solo, grab a friend, bring a board game, and sit together while they wash.

Why Spending Time With Friends Is One of the Best Things You Can Do for Your Health

When someone sets out to improve their health, they usually take a familiar path: starting a healthy diet, adopting a new workout regimen, getting better sleep, drinking more water. Each of these behaviors is important, of course, but they all focus on physical health—and a growing body of research suggests that social health is just as, if not more, important to overall well-being.

One recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE, for example, found that the strength of a person’s social circle—as measured by inbound and outbound cell phone activity—was a better predictor of self-reported stress, happiness and well-being levels than fitness tracker data on physical activity, heart rate and sleep. That finding suggests that the “quantified self” portrayed by endless amounts of health data doesn’t tell the whole story, says study co-author Nitesh Chawla, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame.

“There’s also a qualified self, which is who I am, what are my activities, my social network, and all of these aspects that are not reflected in any of these measurements,” Chawla says. “My lifestyle, my enjoyment, my social network—all of those are strong determinants of my well-being.”

Chawla’s theory is supported by plenty of prior research. Studies have shown that social support—whether it comes from friends, family members or a spouse—is strongly associated with better mental and physical health. A robust social life, these studies suggest, can lower stress levels; improve mood; encourage positive health behaviors and discourage damaging ones; boost cardiovascular health; improve illness recovery rates; and aid virtually everything in between. Research has even shown that a social component can boost the effects of already-healthy behaviors such as exercise.

Social isolation, meanwhile, is linked to higher rates of chronic diseases and mental health conditions, and may even catalyze cellular-level changes that promote chronic inflammation and suppress immunity. The detrimental health effects of loneliness have been likened to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s a significant problem, especially since loneliness is emerging as a public health epidemic in the U.S. According to recent surveys, almost half of Americans, including large numbers of the country’s youngest and oldest adults, are lonely.

A recent study conducted by health insurer Cigna and published in the American Journal of Health Promotion set out to determine what’s driving those high rates of loneliness. Unsurprisingly, it found that social media, when used so much that it infringes on face-to-face quality time, was tied to greater loneliness, while having meaningful in-person interactions, reporting high levels of social support and being in a committed relationship were associated with less loneliness. Gender and income didn’t seem to have a strong effect, but loneliness tended to decrease with age, perhaps because of the wisdom and perspective afforded by years of life lived, says Dr. Stuart Lustig, one of the report’s authors and Cigna’s national medical executive for behavioral health.

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Lustig says the report underscores the importance of carving out time for family and friends, especially since loneliness was inversely related to self-reported health and well-being. Reviving a dormant social life may be best and most easily done by finding partners for enjoyable activities like exercising, volunteering, or sharing a meal, he says.

“Real, face-to-face time with people , and the activity part of it makes it fun and enjoyable and gives people an excuse to get together,” Lustig says.

Lustig emphasizes that social media should be used judiciously and strategically, and not as a replacement for in-person relationships. Instead, he says, we should use technology “to seek out meaningful connections and people that you are going to be able to keep in your social sphere. It’s easy enough to find groups such as Meetups, or to find places to go where you’ll find folks doing what you want to do.” That advice is particularly important for young people, he says, for whom heavy social media use is common.

Finally, Lustig stresses that even small social changes can have a large impact. Striking up post-meeting conversations with co-workers, or even engaging in micro-interactions with strangers, can make your social life feel more rewarding.

“There’s an opportunity to grow those kinds of quick exchanges into conversations and into more meaningful friendships over time,” Lustig says. “People should take those opportunities wherever they possibly can, because all of us, innately, are wired from birth to connect”—and because doing so may pay dividends for your health.

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Write to Jamie Ducharme at [email protected]

Spending Time With Your Best Friend Is Actually Legitimately Healthy For You

There are few things more fun than making lasting memories with your best friend, whether it’s just you two joking around at home or taking adventures together around the globe. Your best friend is your support system, your source of endless inside jokes, and the person you can’t stay angry with for long. Being with your best friend can be a surefire way to relax and have fun, even when life feels incredibly hectic. And now, according to a recent study, it also seems that spending time with your best friend may be legitimately healthy for you.

As you get older, you might find that making time for your friends becomes more and more difficult. Often, making plans with your besties gets pushed to the side for other things — plus, after a while, we kind of start to take advantage of the fact that it feels like they’ll always be there. But this new study found that as you age, friendships can help you be even healthier. So, if you needed another reason to reunite with your besties, this is it.

The study, done by researchers at Northwestern University, looked at a group of 50 elderly people, and found that many of them attribute their good health to a packed social calendar. Within the 50 elderly people studied, 31 were “SuperAgers” and 19 were cognitively average-for-age peers. The “SuperAgers” referred to men and women over the age of 80 with “episodic memory and impressive cognitive awareness.”

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The group was asked to fill out a 42-item questionnaire that included questions about their psychological well-being. In the end, researchers found that the thing that made the SuperAgers stand out was their answers about relationships. SuperAgers reported having more satisfying, warm, trusting relationships than their “average” peers.

Researchers weren’t particularly shocked by these results, which line up quite well with other research that links “positive relationships to a reduced risk of cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia.” A study from this past June found that friendships might even be more important than family in terms of keeping people healthy. In 2016, a study found that the benefits of friendship can be just as important as diet and exercise. Other studies over the years have found that friendship can do everything from making you live longer to making you feel less stressed.

So, there’s no doubt about it: maintaining strong and close friendships, no matter how old you are, is incredibly important. It makes total sense! Being with a close friend makes you feel good, and being happy and positive is essential to living a healthier lifestyle. Friends make you laugh, they ease stress, they give great advice (most of the time), and they keep you busy — which is especially important in terms of declining mental health as you age.

While researchers haven’t figured out exactly how SuperAgers sustain these close relationships, it’s not too hard to figure it out. Make time for your friends, even when you’re feeling super busy. You don’t need to see them every day, but you should make plans for at least once every few weeks. And with phones and social media, there’s no reason you guys can’t text or chat every few days.

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You don’t even have to have a group of best friends to reap these health benefits. One of the SuperAgers who participated in the study says she smiles at everyone, asks how they are, and always makes an attempt to remember their names. She also says she calls her friends every day, even for just a short conversation. It’s about staying social, outgoing, and friendly.

So, seriously, put more effort into your friendships. Reach out to them whenever you need a boost of happiness. Hang with them when you have time. Tell them how important they are to you, and pay attention to what’s going on in their lives. It’s fun, and it will include the quality of your life in all aspects. What other reason do you need?!

Why Do We Need Friends? Six Benefits of Healthy Friendships

Source: Kristen Fuller

As human beings, we become so busy with our jobs, family, household chores, daily activities that we often neglect one of the most important aspects of life; friendships, the relationships that develop over time that hold a very special place in our heart and that society continues to ignore. Friends are family members that we choose to allow and keep in our lives. From our first childhood friend to those lifelong friends we have known for decades; friends are treasures that can bring so much positivity into our lives but yet we often become too busy and neglect these important people. I am guilty of this as well!

The philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.” Growing up, my mother always used to tell me “your friends are a reflection of you”. I did not quite understand this until I started meeting individuals who kept, not so healthy friends in their lives and suddenly, as a young teenager, I learned to understand that the friends I keep in my life reflect who I am and desire to be as a person and therefore I have learned to choose my friends wisely over the years. I do not care about the superficial attributes such as looks, money, success or status but rather I emulate those who bring laughter, joy, honesty and who can be there for me and also give me a firm kick in the butt when I need it. I always find it intriguing to meet friends of people I know because I can really get a sense of that person by the company they choose to keep in their life.

Source: Kristen Fuller

Friends are there to lift you up in joy and comfort you in sorrow

Good friends can be and will be your backbone. Whether you are celebrating a great life event they will show up with a bottle of wine, or two, and celebrate with you. If you are going through a rough patch in life, they are there to listen, give you advice and try to get you out of that slump. True friends show up, no matter what. True friends do not make excuses, do not flake on you and do not bring you down.

Friends help you develop social skills

I am a true introvert. I love people, but only in small doses. When someone invites me to a party or to a wedding, I cringe on the inside because I know I will have to be around a lot of people, which gives me anxiety. However, my friends definitely push me out of my comfort zone and always get me into social gatherings. From childhood, friends are there to invite you to birthday parties, have play dates and as we get older we grab drinks and dinners with our cherished friends to catch up on the week or the past month. Life is so much better socializing with friends and getting out to experience new places and meet new people.

True friends will give you a reality check

We have all been there and we all have that friend; that instance where he or she is being completely inappropriate whether they are throwing a fit, copping an attitude or just being downright rude and nasty. We as friends need to give each other a reality check. It could be the ridiculous outfit we are wearing or the boyfriend cheating on us. True friends bring the harsh truth in front of us. It is always important to be honest with our friends however it is just as important to approach these touchy issues with kindness and to address these matters in the appropriate setting and time, ideally behind closed doors. The beauty of true friends is they will tell you like it is, but from a good place in their heart.

Friendships at a young age can help you develop healthy romantic relationships

Having friends early in childhood and throughout your teenage years can help you learn how to compromise in relationships, which fights to go to battle and how to communicate. Friendships are very similar to romantic relationships (without the sex) and healthy friendships can allow you to develop boundaries and skills that can help you navigate successful and healthy romantic relationships in the future,

Source: Kristen Fuller

Couple friendships can help your own relationship

We all have that friend, he or she becomes romantically involved and POOF, off they disappear. Some couples withdraw from their friendships when their relationship turns serious. This can be hurtful in many ways but instead of waiting for that friend to reappear, try to get to know their significant other. Go on double dates, ask to hang out with your friend and his or her partner, make an effort to get to know this important person. This can mean the world to your friend and by embracing couple friendships; you can go through life transitions together such as engagements, marriage and raising children.

Friends can improve our health and longevity

Studies have shown that older people with friends are more likely to live a healthier happier life than those who do not have many close friends. Older people without close friends are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression than their counterparts. Although family members are usually the caretakers to the elderly, they often do so out of obligation whereas lifelong friends provide endless joy with no strings attached.

Go on, get out there and rekindle old friendships, strengthen weakened friendships and develop new friendships. We are living on borrowed time and we will not be remembered for what we did in life but rather whom we touched throughout our journey in life.

Health Benefits of Friendship

Humans have always relied on friendship. We never would have made it out of the Stone Age without cooperation and companionship. Nowadays, we may not need our immediate circle to help gather food or fend off predators, but friends can still be absolute lifesavers. Many studies over the years have found that people generally live longer, happier, healthier lives if they have a strong network of support from friends and family.

On the other side of the coin, loneliness can be bad for a person’s health. A study of more than 28,000 men published in 2002 found that the ones without strong social ties were nearly 20 percent more likely to die within 10 years, regardless of their health or occupation. The lonely men in the study were especially prone to accidents, suicide, and death due to heart disease. Likewise, a 2009 study of nearly 300 men and women using a free health clinic in Buffalo, New York, found that the clients with the fewest social ties were the most likely to suffer from heart disease, anxiety, and depression.

But friendships aren’t always simple, straightforward health tonics. Any time two people are involved in a long-term relationship, things are bound to get complicated. We all know that some friendships can be stressful and even destructive, and some people seem to need friends more than others. As scientists continue to study the ins and outs of friendships, the rest of us are faced with a different challenge: building and keeping the kind of connections that truly make life better.

Friendship and the heart

Good friendships seem to be especially helpful for the heart. A three-year Swedish study of more than 13,600 men and women found that having few or no close friends increased the risk of having a first-time heart attack by about 50 percent. A two-year study of more than 500 women with suspected coronary artery disease showed similar results. Women who reported the lowest levels of social support were twice as likely to die during the study. The women who enjoyed close support were not only more likely to be alive after two years, they also had lower rates of high blood pressure and diabetes and were less likely to have excessive abdominal fat.

How do friendships manage to affect the heart? As reported in the Journal of the National Medical Association in 2009, friendships and other types of social support can help relieve stress, a well-known contributor to heart disease. Among other things, stress can encourage inflammation in arteries, a first step toward atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). The research is still preliminary, but some studies have found that people who enjoy close support from friends and family generally have fewer inflammatory chemicals in their blood. The link between social ties and inflammation seems to be especially marked in older people.

When stress does appear, friends can encourage healthy reactions. People who lack strong social support tend to have dramatic and potentially dangerous reactions to scary or worrisome situations. Their hearts pound and their blood pressure soars. But friends can help keep the heart on a more even keel. A 2007 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that young men and women discussing rough patches in their lives had a lower pulse and blood pressure when they had a supportive friend at their side.

Finally, friendships may help encourage a heart-healthy lifestyle. As reported in Current Opinion in Psychiatry in 2008, people are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, and successfully quit smoking if they have a network of friends and family.

Good and bad friendships

Think about your friends today and people you’ve known in the past. Some of them would reliably lift your mood and ease your troubles, but others may have had a knack for making you feel worse. Clearly, not all types of friendship are good for your health. A 2008 study published in Hormones and Behavior found that friends who talk excessively about problems — researchers called it “co-ruminating,” evoking cows endlessly chewing their cud — can actually ramp up each other’s stress levels. And while friendships generally help encourage us to make healthy lifestyle choices, some friendships have the opposite effect. A famous study that followed over 12,000 people for 32 years found that a person’s risk of becoming overweight increased 57 percent if a close friend became overweight.

The same researchers who traced the effects of friendship on the waistline found that friends strongly influence happiness, for better or worse. Looking at reports from more than 4,700 people over 20 years, the researchers found that both happiness and unhappiness spread from one friend to another. Having a happy friend who lived less than a mile away increased the chances of finding personal happiness by 25 percent. Being surrounded by unhappy friends, on the other hand, could drag a person down. In short, the most helpful — and healthful — friends are happy, encouraging, and supportive within reason. They’re also willing to ask for help once in a while. As reported in Current Opinion in Psychiatry, giving support to a friend may be as good for a person’s health and well-being as receiving it. That’s the great thing about friendship — it works both ways.

Cadzow, R.B. and TJ Servoss. The association between perceived social support and health among patients at a free urban clinic. Journal of the National Medical Association. 2009. 101: 243-250.

Rutledge, T. et al. Social networks are associated with lower mortality rates among women with suspected coronary disease: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-Sponsored Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation Study. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2004. 66:882-888.

Eng, P.M. et al. Social ties and change in social ties in relation to subsequent total and cause-specific mortality and coronary heart disease incidence in men. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2002. 155: 700-709.

Fowler, J.H. and N.A. Christakis. Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network. British Medical Journal. 2008.

Mental Health America. Building social support: It’s good for your health.

University of Alabama Birmingham Center for Aging. Technology can be key to helping older adults stay connected, healthy, vital

Pew Research Center. Social networks grow: Friending mom and dad. 2009.

This last weekend Thom and I drove to Carlsbad to visit with our friends John and Michelle. It took some gas money to get there, but once we arrived, we hunkered down with a couple of bottles of wine, a great dinner that Michelle prepared, and talked for hours, and hours. We eventually went to bed (lucky for us they have a guest room) and then got up and talked and laughed over breakfast before returning home to the desert. Once the overnight bag was put away, it occurred to me that our brief trip was one of those priceless moments with friends that takes relatively little money but offers huge returns. In fact, cultivating deep friendships may be one of the SMARTest things any of can do on a regular basis to live a great life.

Friendships are important. Humans are social beings who relish connection with others. While most of us realize this from the pleasure we get when we get together with friends, there is actually scientific proof that friends are necessary for a happy and balanced life. This morning I sat down and identified at least five big benefits we all receive from developing and keeping friends throughout our lifetimes.

1) They will make you healthier. Sheldon Cohen, PhD at Carnegie Mellon University did a study exposing adults to the common cold virus. He found that subjects with the least variety of social relationships were 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold. Harvard research shows that breast cancer participants are four times as likely to die from the disease than those with ten or more close friends. Also, notable in this study, proximity and the amount of contact with a friend wasn’t associated with survival—just having the friend was beneficial. It can lower blood pressure, protect against dementia and reduce depression.

2) It will keep your brain sharp: A recent study by Oscar Ybara PhD at the University of Michigan, showed that people who chatted with friends for 10 minutes did better on cognitive tasks (Like memory and logic exercises) than those who didn’t. Friends, especially those who like to learn and explore new ideas, will broaden your perspective and challenge you to think in new ways.

3) You’ll live longer. Researchers have proven that socially connected people live an average of 3.7 years longer than those without. In fact, loneliness elevates the chance of premature death as much as high blood pressure, lack of exercise and obesity. It is estimated that individuals who lack social networks are two to three times more likely to die from any cause than people who have lots of friends and relatives.

4) You’ll be happier. Authors Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener say, “Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive relationships.” But, according to them, it’s not enough to be the life of the party if you’re surrounded by shallow acquaintances. “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones that involve understanding and caring.” People from around the world consistently report higher degrees of happiness whenever they have a strong social network of friends.

5) Not only can they make you laugh and think, they can help you deal with trauma and disappointment. Friends can offer mental health support in a way that touches every day of your life. Everything from encouraging you to try that new recipe to losing that extra five pounds can be only a phone call away. Friends can pick up a carton of milk at the store if you are stuck at home with the kids or take you to happy hour when you’ve had a tough day at work. The huge number of benefits that comes from close friendship is impossible to calculate but should never be underestimated.

Okay so this isn’t rocket science—we know that friends are important. Unfortunately, in our culture we are constantly working so hard or over committing ourselves in so many ways that we frequently complain that we “don’t have time for our friends.” Certainly, those with young families, with two working parents, are often stretched to capacity. But what about all the rest of us? The truth is that we make time for what we think is important in our lives. If we truly value our friendships then we go out of our way to continually connect with those we care about. Every day we actually choose what we will spend time doing—maybe it’s time we chose our friends for a change?

Plus, I spend a lot of time here on this blog encouraging us all to live in a way that is sustainable and financially responsible—by cutting back on work, reducing debt and getting back to what’s important. Some of the feedback that I get is that people are worried that they won’t have the money to do what brings them pleasure so they feel they must work so hard to keep up. Cultivating deep friendships is one of the most “priceless” ways to increase the value of your life without extra work or more money. Face it, getting together with good friends and sharing food and conversation is one of the least expensive, yet most enjoyable things any of us can do.

Of course, there is another side to friendship that is less obvious, but still deserves notice. That perspective is that friendships, much like with family or our relatives, challenge us to learn to live with, accept, and love others in ways that might not come as easily. Sure, we can pick and choose our friends, but even the closest friends will sometimes do things and say things that we don’t agree with or condone. But learning to cooperate, forgive, still love, and move on is a lesson that is necessary for individual happiness as well as from a universal perspective for the survival of the human race.

We’ve known our friends John and Michelle for over 15 years now. We don’t live in the same city and often go several months before we see or talk to them. There have even been a couple of times and experiences when we clashed and disagreed—what friends don’t? But the vast majority of the times we do get together, just like with our other close friends, we experience the many benefits that friends bring to a meaningful and joyful life. We think that’s SMART to keep in mind.

“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.” ~Barbara Bush

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“Most important in a friendship? Tolerance and loyalty.” ~J.K. Rowling

Your share is deeply appreciated!

  • Fifteen Reasons We Need Friends

    One of the most important and yet least understood areas of psychology concerns the role of friends in our lives. In my own writing on adult development and aging, I have constantly felt frustrated about the relative lack of research on this topic under the category of close relationships in middle and later life. Most of the research on friendship concerns children and adolescents, and only rarely do researchers seriously address friendships over the latter (and majority) of the lifespan. Fortunately, author Carlin Flora’s new book, Friendfluence, addresses this much-needed gap. She pulls together the available and wide-ranging academic literature on friendship with personal insights and interviews, exploring all aspects of friendship in a thoughtful and engaging way.

    If you ever had any doubts that friends are one of the most important, if least understood, aspects of life, Flora will convince you. When it comes to happiness, your friends are the key.

    I’ve tried to distill Friendfluence into what I believe are its most important lessons. Of course, if you want to get the full friendfluence effect, I recommend that you read it in its entirety. For now, though, here are 15 reasons to appreciate your friends:

    1. Friendfluence affects you in more ways than you realize. Flora made up the word “friendfluence” to capture the effect that friends have on our lives: “Friendfluence is the powerful and often unappreciated role that friends—past and present—play in determining our sense of self and the direction of our lives” (p. 6). Whether you realize it or not, your friends have shaped who you are today. You are even the product of the friends who are no longer your friends.
    2. Friends can give you vital life skills. Friendfluence gives you vital life skills; “the very abilities one generally needs to be successful in life” (p. 6). There are many perks of friendship include sharpening your mind, making you generally happier, knowing yourself better, becoming inspired to reach your goals, advancing your career, helping you meet romantic partners, and living a longer and healthier life.
    3. Childhood friendships start your learning process. Early friendships play a vital role because they occur while key developmental changes are taking place. They help teach us some of those important life skills but also shape our life “narrative.” Flora advocates for parents and teachers to give kids unstructured time to work out their own social relationships rather than to over-program them into restrictive activities.
    4. Teen friendships shape your later romantic bonds. Though parents spend much of their time worrying about who their teenage kids are with, these relationships are a training ground for the later long-term bonds that will evolve through adulthood. Flora advises parents to recognize that peers will “trump” them every time, and so instead of fighting with your kids about spending too much time with their friends, or who their friends are, you can help your children more by inviting their friends over to your home.
    5. Friends can help you define your priorities. People tend to pick friends who are similar to them. This fact falls under the general proximity rule of close relationships, in that like tends to attract like. Because we fall prey so easily into this similarity trap, it is important to try to stretch yourself to learn from some of those opposites. Flora points out the many ways in which “Birds, feather, flock.” Knowing this can help you grow by expanding your range of friends and trying out some new points of view.
    6. Having friends can help you get more friends. People tend to like others who have a reputation for being nice and helpful, and they like people who like them. If you want to be the type of person who attracts new friends, these qualities will help get you on your way toward building your social group. Once you have more friends, you’ll be able to enjoy some of those perks of friendship.
    7. Close friends support you through thick and thin. To take the most advantage of friendfluence, put effort into your closest friendships. Although being friendly can get you more friends, you don’t need hundreds to help you through life. You may have to prune your friendship tree as you get older to be sure that you give enough attention to the ones who will really matter for your well-being.
    8. Friends can make you miserable too. There is a dark side to friendship. The people who know you the best are also the ones who have the most power to betray you, should the relationship sour. Friends can also get you into trouble. If your friends are doing something bad or harmful, you tend to be more likely to do so as well, a fact to which many drinking buddies can certainly attest. Friends can also cause you stress when they get in the way of other important goals or relationships. Be ready to say no to friends who disappoint, betray, or stress you and you’ll be more likely to get the full friendfluence effect.
    9. You’re less lonely when you have friends. The worst kind of friendfluence, according to Flora, is a complete lack of friends. Loneliness is painful, especially when you are living with loneliness for a prolonged period of time. This is yet another reason to put time, energy, and attention into finding and cultivating a close circle of friends.
    10. Your online friends can steer your thoughts and behaviors. Although online friends are qualitatively different than your in-person friends, they shape you nevertheless. They can also be your source of life support. Flora shows us how Toni Bernhard, author of How to be Sick, and confined to her home, has maintained a lifeline to the outside world through her closest online friends. Of course, your online friends can also make you miserable too, especially if you get caught in the “friendship paradox” (the fact that most people on Facebook have fewer friends than the average number). If you can avoid having Facebook envy dominate your life, you’ll have more rewarding connections with your extended friendship community.
    11. Friends matter to you, regardless of gender. Although much is made of the difference between male friends, female friends, and male-female friend pairs, all share the qualities of having the potential to influence your life. If you restrict yourself to one certain type of friendship, you may be missing out on bonds that transcend gender boundaries.
    12. Couple friendships can help your own relationship. People experiencing similar life events can often provide the most valuable support to each other. Unfortunately, some couples withdraw from their friendships when their relationship turns serious. You can benefit both from maintaining your separate friendships, but also from sharing with the couples who are experiencing transitions such as becoming parents, raising teenagers, and helping older family members. Friends can also help you alleviate your work-related stress. Even though you may be stretched to the limit time-wise, the investment you make in these friendships will be worth the psychological benefits.
    13. Friends can give you a reality check. Who but your closest friends will tell you that your new outfit is ridiculously garish? What person you meet on the street will let you know that your latest romantic interest is going to bring you heartbreak? Because friends know us so well, they are able to see things that we can’t, and aren’t afraid to share their dose of reality with you. Of course, as we saw earlier, friends can also make you miserable. However, the ones who care about you have a perspective on your behavior that no one else can completely see. As Flora points out: “friends are better at describing our behavioral traits than we are” (p. 132). Incidentally, this is one reason why personality researchers ask for “other” reports to compare to the self-ratings that participants themselves provide. These “other” reports can come closer to the mark, especially for individuals whose personalities ironically make it hard for them to see themselves in a realistic light.
    14. Banding together with friends can help you effect social change. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to fight for a cause, raise money for charity, or even just make a few small improvements in your community on your own. Friends are the first step, Flora points out, to building successful social movements. Facebook provides one way to enlist the support of thousands of people. At a less grandiose level, people are more likely to engage in helping and altruistic behavior at the urging of their close friends.
    15. Being a friend helps your friends. Friendfluence works in two directions. Not only do you benefit from its many perks, but by being a good friend you are helping those closest to you. “Being a friend is a great honor and responsibility, so treat your friends carefully” (p. 235). If you are aware of how you’re affecting your friends, you’ll work harder to stay close to them which, in turn, will benefit you as well. Being a good friend also includes asking them for help when you need it. Giving someone the gift of being influential can be one of the greatest joys you pass on to your friends.

    The upshot is, you need friends and they need you. It doesn’t take much skill to cultivate this close and fascinating type of human bond, but it does take some effort. As Flora shows us, that effort will clearly pay off in helping you lead a more fulfilling life.

    Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, “Fulfillment at Any Age,” to discuss today’s blog, or to ask further questions about this posting.

    Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2013

    The Importance of Friendship

    The causes of modern social problems, from divorce to homelessness and obesity, are often thought to be based in areas such as poverty, stress or unhappiness. But researchers suggest we are overlooking something crucial: friendship. It would appear that our society is ignoring its importance.

    The philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.” Friendships are vital for wellbeing, but they take time to develop and can’t be artificially created. No wonder they are at risk of being neglected.

    Nevertheless, the Gallup Organization’s director, Tom Rath, believes that we are all aware of the value of friendship especially during difficult times. In his book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without, Rath makes the point that if you ask people why they became homeless, why their marriage failed or why they overeat, they often say it is because of the poor quality, or nonexistence, of friendships. They feel outcast or unloved.

    Rath undertook a massive study of friendship, alongside several leading researchers. His work resulted in some surprising statistics: If your best friend eats healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself. Married people say friendship is more than five times as important as physical intimacy within marriage. Those who say they have no real friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job. Conversely, if you have a “best friend at work”, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job.

    The book was very well-received by the business world as well as by readers who could identify with the points made about these often unexplored relationships. On its release, Time magazine stated, “Let friendship ring. It might look like idle chatter, but when employees find friends at work, they feel connected to their jobs. Having a best friend at work is a strong predictor for being a happy and productive employee.”

    The book recommends carrying out your own “friendship audit”, in order to recognize which of your friendships provide you with the different things you need, then to sharpen each friendship in line with its strength. Of course, it’s not always a good idea to judge friends in a detached way, or to doubt a friendship just because you can’t easily identify its rewards. The closest friends like each other for who they are in themselves, not for what they deliver. In fact, Aristotle made the point that it is better to give than to receive in friendship. Aristotle also believed that friendship can only arise indirectly, like happiness. It comes with living what he called a good life, including strong personal values such as honesty, character and passion. Our contemporary culture, for all its benefits, tends to focus more on commerce rather than to help us live Aristotle’s “good life”.

    British writer Mark Vernon found support for this idea. He quotes the philosopher Epicurus, “The noble man is most involved with wisdom and friendship.” Oscar Wilde also emphasized the altruistic aspect of true friendship when he said, “Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success.”

    In his search for the essence of friendship, Vernon explored a variety of definitions from well-known personalities. For example, Ralph Emerson said, “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere.” Vernon’s book, The Philosophy of Friendship, makes the point that we have now established that money does not buy happiness. He suggests that we take the lead from Aristotle, and spend at least a fifth of our time with our friends. “Is this not what children do in their persistent requests to play with their friends?” he asks.

    Vernon writes that a close friend is a mirror of your own self, someone with whom you realize that, though autonomous, you are not alone. He adds that friendship is also important in politics because it “cultivates the virtues, such as creativity and compassion, which are essential to a flourishing society”. He concludes that if we cultivate friendship, we can “lift some of the burden from our apparently unhappy, isolated selves”.

    Rath, Tom. Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without. Gallup Press: September 2006.
    Vernon, Mark. The Philosophy of Friendship. Palgrave Macmillan: November 2006.

    The Importance of Friendship

    Why We Need Friends, According To A Scientist

    Even though our lives are now removed from simple ecological pressures, there’s still that power dynamic and social navigation going on, just for different specific reasons. But the basic reason is still the same: you want information and access to resources. It’s maybe not the most satisfying answer, but the basic take-home message is that we make friends because it gets us something. We know this definitively because lonely people are more likely to die and to have heart disease; and there are all the reward chemicals in our brains that are like, “This feels good. Keep doing this.”

    If you put somebody in a room and make them do some horrible task like public speaking and their friend is there, their heart rate doesn’t go up as much. That signals that your friends are getting you something if their presence in the room is comforting. I’ve moved around quite a bit, being an academic, and have always felt that when I move to a new town, even after I’m settled with a place to live and started my job, until I’ve made some friends and have those people I can call on — like, if I’ve lost my keys — I feel a baseline level of stress is always there. I turn to long-distance friends for certain things, like if I got dumped, or if my cat died. Friends abroad are awesome, but they can’t possibly do anything about the day-to-day stuff.

    It’s fun, as modern people, to think about friendship, because our lives are so weird, and we do move abroad and live away from family. High school is like a training ground for the fact that you’re about to leave your family, go off to college or start a job, maybe live in your own place, and suddenly you’re surrounded by strangers, and you really need friends to play some of those family roles. You go into a friendship frenzy during that time because you need to reestablish relationships you’ve lost because your social situation has changed so much. It could also be because you’re broadening your social circle because you want to have a partner, a job, and find out all the cool information about like, what club to go to, what restaurant’s good, all that. You’re trying to establish social roots a moment in time when all of that is incredibly important, and when you don’t really have any of it. The role that friends play becomes really obvious. Like, I need these people to feel part of this society, to feel I can make my own way and cope with even small challenges, like having the flu.

    The Importance of Friends

    Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

    Most of us have friends, or at least one friend—someone we spend time with, someone who knows us better than others do, someone we can count on when the need arises. It’s been said that a friend is a gift that we give ourselves. Yet, how much time do we really spend thinking about those people who matter more to us than all the other people we meet and interact with throughout our life, sometimes including family?

    There’s no doubt that a friend adds to the fullness of life. Authenticity, honesty, and trust are qualities we expect to find in a friend. There’s an understanding that the binding together of people in friendship helps each of us define and realize a meaningful life.

    “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.”

    “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.”

    A good friend shows up no matter what. A true friend supports and encourages us, tolerates our shortcomings, accepts us unconditionally, and cares for us no matter what.

    A real friend walks in, even when they’d rather be somewhere else, when everyone else is walking out. With a true friend the walls come down and you can be who you are without fear. A good friend knows you well—sometimes better than you do yourself—and is not afraid to tell you things you don’t want to tell yourself. A friend is present for you no matter what time of the night or day it is.

    “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”

    “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”

    Friendship is a partnership: Two people come together on equal terms. They give their all. Friendship demands more than love. Friendship expects and endures the good, the bad, and the ugly. A best friend is someone who brings out the best in you.

    “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

    “The best mirror is an old friend.”

    “Life is partly what we make it and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”

    True friends walk through life together. A real friend bears witness to whatever happens to you. With old friends there is a comforting familiarity. You can let down your guard and just be who you truly are without fear, shame, or guilt. A faithful friend is a treasure found.

    “Life without a friend is death without a witness.”

    “We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”

    A true friend shares our joys and sorrows. The inevitable twists and turns of our lives down the long and winding road that represents our journey are made sweeter and more meaningful by the sharing and caring of a good friend. Rites of passage—marriage, births, deaths, or other important milestones—are marked and honored together.

    “Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the evil.”

    “Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief.”

    “In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures.”

    “Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.”

    Friends can be family. Sometimes our friends are the family we wished we had. Sometimes we have difficulty with our own family. We may feel misunderstood, judged, ridiculed, or even ignored. In that case, our friends often fill in for what is not provided by our own family. In the best-case scenario, however, family members can also be good friends.

    “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

    “One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.”

    “A good friend is my greatest relation.”

    Friends are often soulmates. Recognizing each other on a soul level helps us spiritually. John O’Donohue calls this the anam cara experience, translated from Gaelic and meaning “soul friend”: “The anam cara was a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an anam cara, your friendship cut across all convention and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of your soul.”

    “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

    “Friendship is always an act of recognition.”

    “Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.”

    The sum is greater than the parts. In friendship our actions and reactions cause us to go beyond just being you and me. We are ultimately transformed into something far greater by the mere act of signing on to be in each other’s lives. We open new doors for each other; stepping over the threshold into new worlds, we broaden each other’s horizon.

    “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”

    “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.”

    “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

    “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

    You raise me up. A friend rekindles our light when it has gone out, ignites our excitement, and inspires us to do better and more. A real friend may even inspire you in a way you never imagined you could be. They may wake you up to all of the possibilities that live within you and help you to realize your full potential.

    “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

    “There comes that mysterious meeting in life when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential.”

    “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it to you when you have forgotten the words.”

    Our dear friends are the gift that keeps on giving.

    8 Reasons Friendship Is Important

    Friendships are some of the most wonderful connections we make in the world. They come out of nowhere, and they are always there when we need them most. Think about it… You see a stranger and you connect with the stranger.

    Before you know it, that stranger knows everything about you and you can’t live without them. Friendships what keep us going daily. They help keep us sane and most of all, they help us enjoy life! Here are a few things friendships do…

    1. They help keep you sane.

    When you’re about to rip out all your hair, your go-to is your best friend. They help you keep your hair and not flip out on anybody. When life gets too crazy, they take you out and help you forget all the stress. Best friends never let you go crazy. If you do go crazy, they go crazy with you. They let you vent to them so all the built up angry or stress goes away. In the end, our besties help us relax and keep us sane.

    2. They offer the best advice

    When life goes wrong, our besties always give us the best advice. When you need advice on what to say back in a text message, they’re always there to make sure what you say is acceptable. When you need real advice on what you’re wearing, your best friend will give it to you, no lies. Your best friend also gives you real advice when you’re down and need a pick me to up, or when you need to take that opportunity. Our ride or dies always give us advice no matter what; even the advice that we don’t want to hear but need to.

    3. They’re the third wheel in your relationships.

    Let’s be honest. Our best friends are the third person in our relationships. They know all the ins and outs. They know what our significant other does to make us happy and what our significant other does that makes us mad. They’re the person we always have check our text messages to make sure they’re okay. Besties help us analyze what our lover means. Heck, the relationship might as well be all three of us.

    4. They give you someone to talk to.

    When something goes wrong, who’s the first person we want to tell? Your best friend! You want them to know exactly what happened and why. When something goes right, you want them to know every little detail. When you get bored, you text them. You can call them when you get in an awkward situation and need a way out. Best friends just give us that person we can talk to no matter what time of day!

    5. They provide a going-out partner.

    Our besties give us the best partners. Think about all the best memories you have; your bestie is in them. All the times you need someone to do something with, your go-to is your ride or die. They’re the person that’s always willing to try that new bar with you or just simply go to your favorite restaurant. No matter what, they’re always there for you and they’re always willing to do something for you. They make the best wingmen, and we always need a wingman.

    6. They support you.

    When we make a big accomplishment, our best friends are the first person to congratulate us. They’re usually standing at the finish line waiting for us. Our besties support us the other way too due to the fact that when we are down, they pick us up. They support all our decisions good or bad.

    7. They push you.

    Let’s be real… our best friends push us farther than we can ever push ourselves. They know what we have the potential to do and they want us to get there. When we’re not doing our best, they are the first person to point it out and encourage us to do better.

    8. They make life sweeter.

    They’re the icing on the cake. Our BFFs make life so much sweeter. They do so much for us, and life wouldn’t be the same without them. They give us sweets, even when we’re on a diet. They make us high on life.

    In the end, our best friends make this crazy roller coaster called life better 1000x better. I don’t know what I’d do without my best friend. All my best memories have them by my side. Think about it… who else would see you at your worst and your best and still love you the same? Best friends are a God sent!

    ” A true friend scolds like a dad, cares like a mom, teases like a sister, irritates like a brother and loves you more than a lover”

    Why good friends are so important

    Research has shown that the better the quality of your relationships, the more likely you are to be happy. So, being a great friend to someone and having friends support your back is good for your wellbeing. But what, exactly, makes a good friend?

    Signs of a good friend

    Friends will come and go in your life. No matter how long your friendships last, the most important thing is your friends’ acceptance of you for who you are. A good friend walks the talk and shows that they care by their actions – big and small.

    A good friend:

    • is there for you, no matter what
    • doesn’t judge you
    • doesn’t put you down or deliberately hurt your feelings
    • is kind and respectful to you
    • is someone whose company you enjoy
    • is loyal
    • is trustworthy and willing to tell you the truth, even when it’s hard for you to hear
    • laughs with you
    • sticks around when things get tough
    • makes you smile
    • is there to listen
    • comforts you when you cry.

    How to be a good friend

    If you treat the people around you in the ways described above, then you’re already a good friend to them. But it’s not always easy to know how to be there for your friends.

    Listen to them
    Try to understand a situation from your friend’s point of view. Ask questions to get a sense of the problem or issue, but the main thing is to listen to them. You don’t have to have all the answers, and don’t assume that your friend wants advice – they might just want to talk so that they can work it out for themselves.

    Get the facts
    If your friend has a medical or mental health issue, a good way to offer support is to learn about what they’ve been diagnosed with. Being interested in what they’re going through shows you care, and that you plan to stick around no matter what’s going on.

    Ask them what they need
    If you’re worried about someone and you want to be there for them, ask them what they need. You’ll then know what they find helpful during tough times, and you can offer them support in a way that’s genuinely helpful.

    Get physical
    If you’re a hugger, ask your friend whether it’d be okay to hug them. Once you get the thumbs up, hug away! Hugging your friends can be a great way to show you care for them. Physical contact can be comforting, especially when someone feels alone.

    Keep in touch
    Even if you don’t live nearby, show your friends you’re there for them by making an effort to keep in regular touch through social media, texts or calls.

    Tell them how you feel
    You don’t have to make a big deal about it all the time, but you can make a real difference to how someone is feeling just by letting them know how important they are to you. So, go for it!

    Be willing to make a tough call
    If you think your friend’s safety is at risk, you might need to act without their consent and get help. It can be a tough call, particularly when you’re worried about how they’ll react, but remember that good friends care enough to step up, and that you’re doing it to protect them from harm.

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