Making a friend is kind of like finding the right key to open a door–when it clicks, you know it’s the one. Friendship also opens the door to a host of experiences and memories that enrich our lives and keep us connected to the world around us.
If you’ve ever felt better after dinner out with an old friend or late-night chat fest with your bestie, you know that the benefits of friendship extend beyond keeping up to date on the latest celebrity gossip. Friendships are good for our mental and physical health, helping to lower stress and widen our support net in times when we may struggle.
It’s worth highlighting some of the ways friends are good for our health.
Friends help us live longer.
The Golden Girls were on to something – our social connections can keep us healthy as we age. Several large studies have found that people who report satisfying relationships are happier, report fewer health problems and actually live longer. Ask a friend to join you on a weekly walk and you’ll be doing something doubly good for your heart!
Friendships are an investment.
Personal wealth can be measured by more than what’s in your bank account. Knowing you have a group of people to depend on in tough times can be invaluable. And like plants in a garden, friendships need to be cultivated. Be sure to nurture yours with phone calls, texts and notes to let them know you care.
It’s the quality, not the quantity.
Social media may keep track of friend counts, but when it comes to the number of people who have your back, more is not necessarily better. If you have even a few friends and loved ones you can count on without question, you may have all you need. Whether your inner circle fills a restaurant or a table for two, the important thing is that you are there for each other.
Family counts, too.
There’s an old saying is that cousins are your first friends in childhood. That goes for adulthood too, whether it’s your big brother, your mom or even your spouse. Small gestures like dropping a funny meme in the family group chat, picking up your partner’s favorite double mocha latte or telling your dad you love him can help strengthen your bonds.
Mix it up.
It’s great to have friends who like the same things as you, but there’s also value in making connections with people who are different as well. Older friends offer valuable life experience and words of wisdom while younger friends can bring a sunny optimism and enthusiasm. Differences can be a gift in a friendship—and an opportunity for us to expand our perspective while finding some commonalities along the way.