Good relationships can enrich your life in wonderful ways. We go through life developing friendships, and we watch some fall by the wayside as we grow out of them. For many of us, we learn as we go, and we discover what it is to earn friendship as well as what it means to have good friends around you to support you.
The process of building friendships
From the day that we step onto the playground as children, we are thrust into a world where we are surrounded by others, and we need to learn to negotiate and form relationships that will benefit ourselves and others. We discover which interactions feel good, and we learn what to stay away from as we form our first friendships and our first associations about life in general. Having friends and relationships, people we can lean on as we go through life, is one of the most rewarding experiences that we can create as human beings.
Benefits of having good friends in your life
In our time of recent increasing social isolation, it is now more important than ever to foster connections with loved ones and friends, even if it is remotely. Just how do quality relationships benefit you in your life, and what can you do to continue creating friends as we go through life? Here are just a few of the benefits of strong and solid friendships:
1. Good friends extend your life
People with strong social and emotional connections to others are likely to experience better health. According to recent studies, strong friendships are twice as effective at extending life as exercising or giving up habits like smoking and drinking. It is theorized that this is due to the fact that friendships have a measured effect on the reduction of stress. Chronic stress puts your body into a state of fight/flight, which causes physical, mental, and emotional breakdown over time. Fostering connections helps to reduce stress and tension in the body, improving your health and quite possibly extending your life.
2. Friendships help us to stay mentally alert
Feeling connected directly affects your mental alertness; studies done in the Netherlands in 2010 concluded that senior citizens who maintained strong social connections had a much lower incidence of dementia and cognitive decline than those who complained of loneliness and social isolation. Turns out that that weekly game of pinochle with your card gal pals isn’t just for kicks; it’s keeping you mentally strong and healthy.
3. Good friends influence and offer advice
No man….or woman…is an island. We all need help and advice from time to time. Having good friends around us to help influence us in positive ways and offer advice from “objective” points of view is one way that friends can help improve the quality of our lives.
4. Good friends offer emotional support when it is needed
Have you ever been through a rotten break up? Have you lost a parent or sibling? Are you going through a health crisis? A good friend can offer emotional support in times of need to help get you through. Friendships are give and take; there will come a time when some of yours are down on their luck, and they might need a helping hand from you. This is part of the richness of life and relationships; learn the fine art of giving and receiving, and you’ll be building friendships for life.
5. Friends can give you a kick in the pants if needed
We all need a dose of reality from time to time; whether it’s unrealistic expectations in a relationship, or the way we are approaching a professional situation with less than professional candor, a good friend can tell it like it is and shake us out of our stupor to see a different perspective. We all need someone to hold the mirror up from time to time so we can see the error of our ways.
6. Good friends last a lifetime
Time, space, and distance does not hamper a strong friendship–in our world of almost instantaneous connection, we are able to maintain those relationships that are truly important to us and thus, enrich our lives. Regardless of whether your friends are just down the street or halfway across the globe, they enhance and improve the quality of lives and teach us what love and connection are all about.
Who are your friends? How do you connect? Be grateful for all of the opportunities that you have to enrich and deepen these relationships, for life just wouldn’t be the same without them!