How often do you find time to see your friends or at least talk to them via any of the modern technologies?
There are a large number of studies that have shown the benefits of having good, close relationships. The most amazing are the 75 year long Grant and Glueck studies conducted to this day on 268 Harvard college sophomores from the classes of 1939–1944 and 456 disadvantaged non delinquent youths who grew up in Boston neighbourhoods between 1940 and 1945. The studies had a goal to identify predictors of healthy aging i.e. to determine how we can live longer and happier lives, and amazingly the results have shown that “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier”. Or as the principal investigator in the study, George Vaillant has put it: “Warmth of relationships throughout life have the greatest positive impact on ‘life satisfaction.’“
Many studies have shown that people with stronger social relationships have increasingly higher chances of longevity than those with weaker social relationships. And some findings point out how loneliness and a lack of human connection are hazardous to our health, triggering a variety of both mental and physical issues including depression and weaker immune systems.
But in this busy world how many of us are really aware of the blessing of having friends and family? How often do you find time to see your friends or at least talk to them via any of the modern technologies?
Close Relationships are the Soul of Our Lives
For me it all started when I decided to leave the life I had to go traveling and exploring. And in the years that followed I travelled a lot. I spent some time in Japan, some in Hawaii, NYC, and Europe. I liked each of these places a lot. They all grew very close to my soul and leaving each of them felt like leaving a piece of my heart there. I had some incredible things come my way and more than a few times felt that life is one amazing entity with a will of its own, always ready to surprise me in the most unbelievable ways. But what I consider to be the most wonderful thing out of that experience was definitely the people.
I met some amazing individuals along the way, listened to their stories, shared wonderful moments with them and it was leaving those people that actually caused my heart to break into million nano pieces. Some of them appeared out of the blue, shined their lights blindingly bright just to be gone moments later, and some came determined to stay forever, joining my journey and becoming very close friends of mine. And all will be remembered and cherished for who they were and how immeasurably they enriched my life.
And I keep in touch with all of them. Email here and there, viber, Facebook and all other modern means of communication are making it easy for us to remain close. It is inspiring to see our lives unfolding with us managing to be there for each other if not always in flesh than at least in spirit and with a kind word or even as a virtual shoulder to cry on.
It is on that journey that I became truly aware of how important people in our lives are. They are the very soul of our existence.
It is because of my lifetime friends that I decided to come back home and finally plant some roots. No matter where you go and what you do, if you don’t have your friends and family to share those experiences with it all appears hollow and empty at the end of the day.
Friends are good for health
Friends are good for our health on so many levels. First of all, having friends increases our sense of belonging which is one of the primal human needs – to be part of a tribe. We have this constant tendency to belong to a certain group: family, school, neighborhood, sport team, and all other subcultural or interest groups. Therefore this feeling of belonging plays a major part in our sense of self-worth and impacts how we see ourselves measured against the world.
Spending time with the people we care about boosts our feeling of happiness which in turn reduces stress and helps us deal with bad experiences, trauma, and stress. And that is only from the increased feeling of happiness, but what about the physical presence of the people we hold dear to us when things get rough? Who is there to celebrate your promotion with you? Who do you tell of your newest crush? Who holds your hand when your heart gets broken? Your true friends and family members.
Although during our lives we usually make different kinds of friendships, like those special bond friendships from our youth that will last throughout our lives, or those we make later in life that are based on same interests but will most likely never have that incredible power, all need to be nurtured and cherished. Every “-ship” whether it is with a family member, a friend or a partner needs dedication and devotion.
Just like the fox said to the Little Prince: “…It’s the time that you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important…”