Do you remember your first friend? I do. Her name was Jennifer. We met on the school bus on the first day of kindergarten. We were among the first kids on the bus and usually the last ones off, so we formed a bond. We were friends all through school, but then lost touch after graduation. I haven’t seen her in over 20 years.
Friendships come and go. Sometimes they form out of convenience, like riding the bus together. You may also be friends with co-workers, but those friendships can fade when one of you moves on to a different job.
Then, you have the friendships that can last the better part of your lifetime. These are the friends who will be with you through a bad break-up, divorce, miscarriage, illness or death. They will also share your joys: a promotion, marriage or a new baby.
So, what are the benefits of having good friends?
Fight illness and depression
Friends are important to your overall health. Studies have shown that people with a good network of friends are better able to fight diseases, such as cancer. In fact, friends may have a bigger impact on your physical and emotional well-being than your family relationships. It’s also harder to become depressed when you have friends to listen to you and help you through the tough times.
Research shows that older people who have a large circle of friends have a greater chance of living longer than those with fewer friends. Your friends will encourage you to get out and do things you might not do by yourself. They can provide emotional support, a mental challenge and keep you physically active.
Have you ever called a friend when you’ve felt like you couldn’t deal with one more thing? Our friends have our backs. If you’re mad at someone, they will be mad with you. If you’ve had a bad day, they will lift your spirits. If you just need someone to listen to you unload, they will listen. One of the best stress relievers is to get what’s bothering you off your chest and have someone listen unconditionally.
Boost your confidence
When you need a boost, your friends will tell you that you look fantastic. They will tell you that you are right and your spouse or significant other is being a jerk. They will agree that you deserved that promotion. Knowing your friends are behind you can give you the confidence to face your challenges and make changes in your life.
Tell it like it is
On the other hand, your friends will let you know when you are out of line. They will call you on your bull. True friends will be honest when honesty is what you need. They may tell you that you are putting on weight. Then, they’ll give you some healthy recipes or offer to exercise with you.
Test your limits
Good friends will push you to test your limits and try new things. It may be something as simple as eating sushi or going to a Zumba class. They may talk you into skydiving or taking a road trip to Vegas. Your friends will push you out of your comfort zone and make you a more well-rounded person.
Our friends love us. And while you may not tell each other all the time, you know. Your friends will be there with you through the good times and the rough patches. That’s what makes them your friends.
I’m going to call my best friend now. Who will you call?