Remember those times when you felt lost and all alone. Maybe your relationship was on the rocks. Maybe you were sick and no one was around to take care of you. Perhaps you screwed up at work or that you were about to get downsized. Maybe you thought no one could possibly understand the pain and loss you were experiencing.
Then remarkably something happens. You contact a friend or vice versa. You accidentally run into someone you’ve been meaning to talk to. There is a connection. You share. You laugh. You cry. Suddenly you feel lighter, more in control and less overwhelmed. Healthy friendships are one of the most important keys for gaining balance and happiness throughout the life cycle. Friendships are enlivening, empowering, and at the core of happiness.
Studies have shown that good friendships:
- Enhance quality of life
- Fortify physical and psychological health
- Increase longevity
- Strengthen resiliency
- Promote optimism and positive moods
- Alleviate anxiety, depression, pain
- Help manage trauma and loss
- Boost the immune system
Healthy friendships emerge from mutual affection and form the social fabric of our lives. Good friends regard each other as special and irreplaceable. Each friendship matters and has a particular and unique place of value in our lives.
Sometimes a friendship does not support us in the ways that we need. When you notice that a friendship consistently leaves you feeling worse after spending time together, it might be time to reconsider the value of that relationship. Perhaps it makes sense to lessen contact with that person, or, in extreme cases, you may need to press the delete button. As difficult as that may seem, sometimes it offers the best alternative, and might even have a positive impact on your self esteem.
Some ideas for building friendships include:
- Treat like a “courtship”
- Take risks with someone you want to get to know
- Google an old best friend
- Be the one to take the first step
- Make dates and plans
- Take a class doing something you love
Make friendships a priority.
Good friendships offer a different kind of support than we get from our partners and family members. They offer a feeling of peer and social connection that enriches and invigorates our lives.
How invested are you in building and maintaining your friendships?