Friendships Give Us Health and Happiness

We all take friendships for granted. As we go through life we stop making time for friends, we get busy with families and careers, and we neglect friends. Often we lose track of people, don’t return phone calls, stop the holiday cards, forget birthdays, and stay busy with our own lives.

Currently people have no friends with whom to confide whereas in 1985 people’s response to surveys reported three. This research is truly sad.

Friendships Help us Stay Healthy and Live Longer

We need friendships to keep us healthy and to live longer. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D. at BYU has found that having a lack of social support is more dangerous than being obese and the equivalent on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

Other Benefits of Having Friends

Each additional friend means two fewer days of feeling lonely every year. Family members don’t have an impact on this.

If you can count at least three dear friends at the office, you are 96 percent more likely to be extremely satisfied with life in general…

Having a friend you see on most days, compared to not having such a friend, has the same impact on well-being as making an extra $100,000 a year.

Happiness is contagious. Happy friends boost your chance of happiness by 15 percent. Unhappy friends decrease it by seven percent.

Nobel Prize winner David Kahneman did research showing time with friends is more enjoyable than time with spouses or children. We can’t depend on just our spouse and children for happiness. We need relationships where we don’t have deep responsibilities.

When you share time with friends as a couple you improve your long-term relationship. With new friendships you see your partner through new eyes. Maintaining older mutual friendships also strengthens the bond because having people around who think of the two of you as a unit, who admire your relationship, and who expect you to stay together can sustain you through tough times.

What to do to Maintain Close Friendships

It takes effort to maintain close friendships and research tells us we can do these things:

  1. Make the time. You feel valued when friends want to spend time with you.
  2. Do things together. It is the companionship that makes us most happy about our friendships.
  3. Be around. Just having close proximity, in the same neighborhood or work place, or frequenting the same places gives you the opportunity to meet and creates an “exposure effect” which promotes friendships.
  4. Be patient. Listen to their same complaints, extend the most invitations and put up with some boredom.
  5. Be flexible. Adapt to your environment and don’t insist on “being who you are.” Be sensitive and responsive to social cues. Be appropriate.
  6. Be supportive. Endorse their view of themselves and make them feel good about their pursuits in life. Be their greatest cheerleader.

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