top of page
Search

Fiends are Important

from:

https://www.scienceofpeople.com/friends-important/




Good friends bring laughter and joy to daily activities and support you during hard times.


Friendships enrich our lives on every level, contributing to our self-esteem, happiness, and a sense of purpose.


Friends are important.

So important that the quality of your friendships can determine your physical health, your financial fortitude, and even how long you live.



How Many Friends Should I Have?


According to research, the average person has 3 to 5 very close friends, 10 to 15 people in their circle, and 100 to 150 acquaintances in their social network.


Naturally, these numbers can vary widely based on your personality, career, location, and social skills. It’s a common misconception that you need to have tons of friends to be happy, but studies have revealed that it isn’t the number of friends, but the quality of friends, that leads to true happiness. Close friends and “best” friends are far more likely to yield real social fulfillment than a bunch of casual connections. This even holds true in the celebrity world, where one would imagine that famous people have loads of friends… Nope!


Oprah Winfrey openly shares that she has only 3 close friends.


Instagram star and singer Selena Gomez says the same: she only has 3 good friends she feels she can tell everything to. Actor Matthew McConaughey says, “I’ve got only a few really close friends in the 28 years of acting that I keep up with all the time.” Nearly half of the American population reports an average of 3 close friends.


About a third of people report having 4 to 9 close friends.


The other proportions include people with 10 or more close friends (about 13%) and those who report no close friends at all (12%). Yet, despite all the social media and illusions of online connection, true friendship seems more challenging to find these days.


Compared to 1990, Americans are becoming more socially isolated over time. The number of close friendships Americans have is declining. And a bunch of surface-level acquaintances just don’t cut it for fulfilling our social bonding needs. Even if you know many people, maintaining a handful of close quality friendships could be the key to true social connectedness.


No matter the number, having friends can benefit your life in truly incredible ways.

It can be hard to pinpoint the exact feeling of “belonging” or “companionship.” Still, scientists have uncovered an abundance of ways in which friendships benefit our lives.



Quality Friends Make You Physically Healthier


Friendships improve your health on nearly every level. In fact, research shows that they are just as important as diet and exercise.


Physically, social connection is linked to lower blood pressure, lower B.M.I., less inflammation, and a reduced risk of diabetes across all age groups.But it’s important to remember that this only applies to quality friendships with people who inspire you to become a better version of yourself.


A quality friend can have these traits:


Is kind and compassionate



Accepts you for who you are



Values your time



Respects your boundaries



Supports you during hard times



Is fun to be around



Is honest and trustworthy



Encourages you to grow and improve



Inspires and uplifts you



Toxic friendships can have the opposite effect.


Because you are more likely to adopt the habits of your peers, unhealthy or mentally ill friends can negatively impact your health.


The risk for depression, suicide, obesity, smoking, and substance abuse drastically increases when people spend time around friends who are depressed/suicidal, overweight, smokers, or abuse substances.



Surprising? Probably not. 


Jim Rohn’s infamous quote continues to reign true:


“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”


Overall, friendships generally make you healthier. Just be sure that you spend your time with people who uplift you.


Action Step: Prioritize friends who share health-promoting lifestyle choices that you want to adopt.


If you know your friend goes to the gym often, but you’ve been afraid to start working out, consider asking them if you could tag along.


You can also find new health-minded friends by trying out local health cafes, yoga classes, joining a sports team, or volunteering at a local community garden.


Friendships Make You Happier


Fame and fortune don’t necessarily buy happiness.


But research shows that friendship does.


One of the longest-running human studies on happiness has shown that relationships are the number one key indicator of joy and happiness.


Beginning in 1939, the Harvard Study of Adult Development started collecting data on the lives of 268 Harvard graduates and 456 Boston men.


For the last 80 years, researchers accumulated data from physical examinations, and completed medical histories, interviews, and questionnaires.


Their goal? To uncover “what psychosocial variables and biological processes from earlier in life predict health and well-being in late life.”


The results were astounding yet shockingly simple.


At the end of the day, the only factor they could correlate with happiness was the quality of their human relationships.


Close friendships, familial connections, and marriages surpassed other variables like social class, genetics, I.Q., fame, or fortune.


The people who had the most satisfaction in their friendships at age 50 were the healthiest and happiest at age 80.


Moreover, loneliness was as closely linked to early death as smoking or alcoholism!


How profound is that?


Cultivating just a handful of close friendships today could lead to more fulfillment and happiness as you age.





Friendships Make You Live Longer


Humans are undeniably social animals. Harnessing that innate social drive could be the secret to living a longer life.


Modern science has revealed that our brains have been wired for social connection since the dawn of Homo sapiens about 300,000 years ago.


But modern society is increasingly socially disconnected.


Social ties are a survival mechanism.


We need friends to make us feel safe, supported, and loved.


Perhaps this is why feelings of loneliness and rejection trigger the same parts of our brains as physical pain.


Data from 148 studies have shown that people with stronger social connections are 50% more likely to survive!


In other words, weak social relationships or a lack of friends is correlated with a greater risk of death, regardless of age, sex, health status, or cause of death.




Sociability Makes You Less Likely to Get Sick


We all know that stress harms our bodies in a myriad of ways.


But new evidence shows that social ties can buffer these negative effects and indirectly strengthen our immunity.


On the other hand, social isolation and loneliness are linked to a weaker immune system, especially for young adults. Later in life, a lack of supportive personal relationships can lead to immune dysregulation, cognitive decline, and even greater risk for chronic disease!


The evidence is clear: building a robust social circle could help prevent sickness.


Perhaps friendship should be at the top of the self-care priority list alongside healthy eating, exercise, and stress management.




Friendship Improves Your Mental Health


Science tells us that friendship reduces stress, strengthens self-esteem, and creates a sense of belonging. Friends are good for your psychological well-being.


If your mental health suffered during the recent pandemic, you are certainly not alone. A 2020 study indicated that more than 3 out of 5 Americans are lonely.


And that number is on the rise.


These results were prevalent across all generations.


Many researchers speculate that loneliness and isolation are intricately tied with the mental health epidemic that plagues much of western society today.


A lack of social support is a known risk factor for depression.


People need friendships and familial relationships to support them through hard times and celebrate with them during good times.


Friendships Make you Feel Safe


Everyone knows how much it hurts to get rejected by a friend or romantic partner, and some would prefer actual physical harm over the experience of rejection.


Interestingly, science explains why.


Neuroscientists have found that “social pain” triggers the same parts of the brain as physical pain.


In other words, social disconnection causes literal pain inside the human body.


Humans evolved to depend on social bonds as a means of survival.


Homo sapiens are born dependent on the caregiver(s) to nourish and care for them compared to other animals.


Without social connection, our brain panics and goes into “fight or flight” mode that can lead to a cascade of stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation.


Friendships counteract this by creating a sense of safety and belonging that goes back to our primal roots.


Action Step: If you want to feel calmer and at ease, reach out to 2-3 of your closest friends. Send them a quick text, voicemail, or email letting them know how grateful you are to have them in your life.


Invite them to do something with you in the coming week.


While new friendships are exciting and fun, nourishing existing relationships and regularly letting people know that you care about them is vital.




What Makes a Good Friend?


Good friends are vulnerable, consistent, and positive. They lift you up and accept you for who you are.



Vulnerability: Opening up to your friends, being honest, and admitting your mistakes are crucial for creating depth in your relationship.


When you are brave enough to be vulnerable, it helps others feel comfortable being vulnerable.


Keeping a wall up around your feelings can lead to surface-level interactions and a lack of mutual trust.




Consistency: Good friends are reliable. 


They show up when it matters most and follow through when they say they will. They are a consistent force of loyalty in your life.



Positivity: Friends are the ones that bring you up during tough times and help you laugh through your tears.


They encourage you to reach your goals. They are genuinely fun to be around and add joy or playfulness to your life.


Of course, countless other traits make for a good friend:


Honest


Supportive


Mutual interests


Hilarious jokes


Fun to be around


Optimistic


A shoulder to cry on


Motivational


Inspiring


Comfortable to be around


Easy to talk to


Trustworthy


Dependable


You know you have a good friend if you feel good around them and they care about your well-being.

Do they lift you up or break you down?


Do they put in as much effort as you do?


Do they show you that they value your friendship?





What to Avoid in a Toxic Friendship?


Toxic friendships are defined by traits like control, manipulation, negativity, drama, and words or actions that make you feel below them.


Toxic people represent the opposite side of the friendship coin.


All the benefits discussed above can quickly be flipped on their heads when dealing with toxic friendships.


Suppose you notice your friend displaying one or more of these signs in your friendship.


In that case, they may be creating a toxic environment for your relationship:


They try to control you


They manipulate you into doing things for them


They make you feel less self-confident


They emotionally dump their feelings on you


They only talk about themself


They’re constantly negative


They’re too busy or self-important to spend time with you


They create drama for no reason


They live in a victim mindset


They’re jealous of your other friends or relationships


They lie to you


They don’t care to put in the same effort as you do


Unfortunately, there are many ways that friendships can turn toxic.


But open communication and self-awareness can be the keys to avoiding a downward spiral.


It’s important to remember that you deserve to have friends who enjoy your company and make you feel happy in their presence!


Letting go of toxic friendships could drastically improve your mental health and help you enjoy all the benefits of positive friendships with other people.


The secret sauce to making new friends is developing your people skills like mastering the art of small talk, growing your self-confidence, and becoming a better conversationalist.


Engaging in new hobbies and going to new places can help expand your horizons and create scenarios where connections flourish.



The benefits of friendship read like a lengthy sales pitch for the best product you’ve ever tried:


Quality friends make you physically healthier


Friendships make you happier


A strong network of friends is linked to a longer life


Sociability is connected to a reduced risk of getting sick


Friendships are correlated with financial success


Good friends improve your mental health


Friends make you feel safe and at home


The deep yearning for a sense of belonging transcends all cultural, economic, and political borders.


Friends give us the feeling of companionship that makes life worthwhile.




 

now for the recipe of the week:



Banana Bread Smoothie


Ingredients


Servings 2 Serving Size 1 1/4 cups


2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced

1 1/2 cups ice cubes

3/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup fat-free milk



2 tablespoons rolled oats

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and (optional) pinch of ground cinnamon (for garnish), divided use

1 tablespoon finely chopped unsalted pecans or walnuts (optional)


Directions


In a food processor or blender, process the bananas, ice cubes, yogurt, milk, oats, maple syrup, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon until smooth.


Pour into 2 glasses. Garnish with the chopped pecans and the remaining pinch of cinnamon. Serve immediately.


Quick Tips

Keep it Healthy: Greek yogurt typically contains only half the sodium of regular yogurt.


Keep it Healthy: For a smoothie with more fiber, increase the amount of oats to 1/2 cup.



As, always

Be Kind, Do Fearless


36 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment


Marianne Mason
Marianne Mason
Aug 09, 2023

Excellent topic. Very timely, as I spent the weekend w friends of 30 & 40+yrs creating fun-filled memories.

Like
bottom of page