Sometimes we love them, sometimes they drive us up the wall, but friends are there for you through it all. They share the highs of the good times and the pain of the bad ones, creating a safe space for you to exist on this planet.
Whether you identify as an introvert or an extrovert, everyone needs friendship in their life. After all, social support is one of the key pillars to good mental wellbeing. It’s simple science. Several studies have concluded that friendships are vital for wellbeing. So, why exactly does having good friends cause us so much happiness?
The physical health implications of loneliness
Some people find making friends stressful – primarily due to underlying mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, making it hard for them to get out of their own heads and make new connections.
While some people think that always being alone is calming, studies show that loneliness increases feelings of stress in the body. It also increases inflammation in the body, leading to a whole host of illnesses.
It can cause a chain reaction of hormone disruption leading to depression. As we know, depression causes you to withdraw from society. And withdrawing from society causes loneliness – it’s a horrible catch 22.
Why Friends Are Important: The Importance of Friendship
The first reason why friends are important is that they make us happy! But how?
Serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin are some of the potent happy hormones that friendship has to offer.
In friendship, we tend to incorporate touch as a sign of affection – hugs, pats on the shoulders, a supporting squeeze of the hand… These touches release oxytocin, which is. Responsible for deepening connections and increasing happiness.
Any good friend has that inevitable skill to make you laugh your socks off. They know you inside out. They know what makes you tick. So, it should come as no surprise that these laughter sessions release endorphins that make you feel happier for longer.
The second reason why friendship is so important is the emotional support they give us.
Life can be full of stress sometimes. While we do what we can to try and alleviate our own stress, sometimes we need a kind ear to hear us out. And that’s where having a good friend comes in handy for your wellbeing and happiness. You can’t go wrong with cultivating a good support system around you, and along with family, friends play a crucial role in this.
And it isn’t limited to stress. We’re human beings. Our emotions are complicated. Sometimes we get sad, or angry, or worried, or confused. Sometimes we’re happy and want to share our good news. And sometimes we’re a messed up ball of 1000’s of different emotions that we don’t know where to begin. In all cases, having a friend beside you reminds you that no matter what life throughs at you, good or bad, you’re not in it alone.
The third reason why having friends is important is the conversations we have with them.
Have you ever been at a work event or party full of strangers, forced to make small talk to pass the time and appear polite? Or even just to try and find a connection? Of course, small talk has its advantages, but, my, does it get boring!
But with friends around you, you don’t have to worry about polite chit chat. Instead, you can delve deep into big topics that actually excite you and interest you without worrying about how the other person will react.
And with that freedom to explore conversations with people you trust, it opens yet another avenue of happiness for you.
That’s right. Friendship literally helps keep you alive.
Firstly, by helping you relax and reduce your stress, friends ensure you have lower blood pressure, fewer gastrointestinal problems, fewer headaches, reduced body muscle tension, and can help reduce the worst symptoms of anxiety and depression.
People who regularly meet up with friends tend to be more active than people suffering from loneliness. This means they get the health benefits of moving more and keeping fit.
Not only that, but people with strong social connections such as friendship have been found to have a longer life expectancy than their lonely counterparts. So your friends are literally keeping you alive longer! (Make sure you get them an extra big present this year to thank them for it!)
How to make friends as an adult
So, having friends clearly brings incredible benefits. But not everyone finds it easy to make friends. As adults, it can be especially hard to find people and create new bonds that turn into friendships. So, if you are feeling lonely and looking for ways to make new friends, here are a few suggestions:
Take a class on a hobby you like or what to improve in
When you take classes, you'll find that you’ll meet like-minded people to bond with that you may have never crossed paths in life otherwise. Having an established common ground to build a connection on can be really helpful for creating a new friendship.
Take the time to know your co-workers better
If you are quite shy and reserved at work, make an effort to talk to your co-workers. Worst case scenario, you have a conversation and leave it there. Best case scenario, you find common ground and develop a friendship!
Use apps like discord, Twitter, or tinder for friends
These apps can help connect you with like-minded people that share similar interests to you. As long as you take reasonable precautions to keep yourself safe when meeting new people over the internet, it can be a great way to build friendships and widen your social circle.
- “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” — Walter Winchell
- “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” — Oprah
- “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
- – C.S. Lewis
- “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” – Muhammad Ali
- “There are three things that grow more precious with age; old wood to burn, old books to read, and old friends to enjoy.” — Henry Ford
- “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” — Audrey Hepburn
- “Never leave a friend behind. Friends are all we have to get us through this life—and they are the only things from this world that we could hope to see in the next.” — Dean Koontz
- “And what is a friend? More than a father, more than a brother: a traveling companion, with him, you can conquer the impossible, even if you must lose it later. Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.” ― Elie Wiesel, The Gates of the Forest
- “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” – Winnie the Pooh
- A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” – William Shakespeare
- “True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “A good friend is like a four-leaf clover; hard to find and lucky to have.” – Irish Proverb
- “I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.” — Jon Katz
- “Every friendship travels at sometime through the black valley of despair. This tests every aspect of your affection. You lose the attraction and the magic. Your sense of each other darkens and your presence is sore. If you can come through this time, it can purify with your love, and falsity and need will fall away. It will bring you onto new ground where affection can grow again.” — John O’Donohue
Final thoughts on the Importance of Friendship
Friendship is one of the most important things we have in our lives to help us not only survive but thrive. The love and support of a good friend is enough to lift you out of a funk and bring true happiness into your life.
So, now you know how important your friends are to your happiness, go and make sure they know just how much they mean to you!