21 Aug Permission to phone a friend: The positive effects of friendship on happiness
When was the last time you spent time with a good friend? With our busy lives, it’s easy to let the days slip by and stay consumed with our own lives, careers, and families. Reconnecting and maintaining relationships with friends can be an important piece of the happiness puzzle.
I recently traveled back to my home town in Massachusetts and spent time with one of my best friends, Molly. That’s us in the picture. Molly and I have been friends since the third grade. While I won’t divulge my age here, let’s just agree that the third grade was a long time ago. Spending time with a friend who has known you for much of your life is something special. When Molly and I see each other we are immediately transported back to when we were teenagers. While we have both changed over the years, what has stayed the same is the sound of our laughs when we are together. There aren’t many experiences left in the world that can make you feel like a kid again. Laughing with an old friend can do this.
It turns out that friendships have powerful effects on our well-being. According to The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness having friends has numerous health benefits such as:
- Increasing sense of belonging and purpose
- Boosting happiness and reducing stress
- Improving self-confidence and self-worth
- Helping you cope with difficult times in your life
- Encouraging you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits
Friends also help us live longer. There are areas of the world with high densities of people who have incredible longevity. These are called “Blue Zones.” According to Dan Buettner who investigated these areas for National Geographic, in the path to longevity you should have:
“at least 3 good friends who: you like, with whom you can have a serious conversation, and whom you can call if you have a bad day.”
What can you do? Reconnect with a friend. Take that first step right now. Pick up your phone and call or text an old friend even if it’s just to say a quick hello. It’s a simple step that pays big dividends.