“There are no true friends.” We may sometimes hear the phrase from those around us or think it ourselves, trying to wall off our feelings and avoid a possible disappointment or betrayal. But opening our heart and putting a person in our life is much more important for our health than we think.
Friendship has been a source of inspiration for thousands of hits, books and poems. It has been the subject of popular TV series, such as “Friends” which is considered the most successful of all time. No matter how cliche it sounds, friendship is a sacred concept and a value that is completely integral and important to our lives at every level. How many times have we felt joy at hearing the voice of a friend? Or have we felt relief after discussing a problem? Let’s take the quarantine period for example. It would definitely be much more difficult and mentally more painful if we couldn’t get in touch with our friends even via Zoom. However, psychological support is not the only thing it offers us, as there is ample scientific evidence confirming that friendship affects our heart as well as many other health factors.
Friendship and longevity
Friends have a huge influence on our lives, since they improve our mood as well as our physical health. A large survey of 300,000 people found that those who believed they had good friends had a 50% increased chance of recovering faster after a heart attack.
According to another study by Concordia University in Canada, lonely elementary school children had elevated cortisol levels after an unpleasant event, eg a reprimand from the teacher. However, if they had a friend present at the event, their stress was reduced and their self-esteem was stronger.
In another study, Australian scientists examined 1,500 people aged 70+ and found that those who had good friends in their lives were 22% more likely to live longer than the rest. But how easy is it in modern times to create friendships or to maintain existing ones?
“I don’t get to see my friends”
According to Aristotle, friendship is a kind of virtue, or at least intertwined with virtue. But it is also something very necessary in man’s life, because no one would prefer to live without friends, even if he has all the other goods in his possession.” However, creating a friendship and maintaining it is not easy, as the passage of years and the transition to maturity is a challenge.
Strong bonds formed in adolescence and the twenties are sometimes destabilized after marriage, motherhood, or burdened financial obligations. Especially if we are in different phases of life.
So how can we keep in touch with our friends in our daily life when we don’t have time? What is certain is that we shouldn’t disappear from their lives. Until we see them in person, we can adopt short ways of communicating. Eg if we’re stuck at work, we send a photo with a caption or a simple “what’s up?” to show them that we have not forgotten them.
“We are in different phases of life”
The choices we make from 30 onwards, whether it is a long-term relationship or having children, etc., reasonably affect our daily life and mood. So, how can we stay in touch with our friends when they want to stay home on Saturday night while we want to go out and have fun?
It is especially important to have realistic expectations of our friends and to accept their choices and lifestyles. We recognize that both we and they are not what we were 10 or 20 years ago, so there must be mutual respect and support for each side’s decisions.
“My partner is my best friend”
As lucky as it is to draw emotional support from our partners, it cannot replace a friend. When, for example, we have to resolve an issue that also concerns our spouse, their judgment may not be objective and sober. Therefore a third person who loves us and cares about our well-being can provide us with clarity of thought so that we can make the right decision.
The types of friends we need in our lives
* The optimist, who cheers us up and “wakes us up” from the monotonous everyday life.
* The good listener, the one to whom we can talk and believe in our dreams, fears and hopes without feeling judged.
* Our childhood friend, who knows us since we were little and doesn’t need to explain much to understand us.
Few selected friends
Stanford University psychologists argue that after 30 we become more selective with human relationships, setting aside less meaningful ones. So, the saying “quality over quantity” fits in this area as well.
After all, our friends are the family we choose, which is ruled by kindness, love, laughter and joy, support and meaningful interest, ingredients rare, precious and therefore irreplaceable, which we all would like to have in our lives. So, maybe after reading this text is the opportunity to send a message to the person who first came to mind?