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Education

The Importance of Friendship

The Importance of Friendship

Photo: "You got a friend"

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I feel very lucky that some of my friends have been around for more than half of my life. We were friends before marriage and children, as we were just beginning professional lives, and while we struggled to find our way as grownups.  We moved away and then moved back; we had times when we were in touch more frequently and then times when we were out of touch. But, through all that we still considered ourselves friends. We listened and gave advice even if it was not what the other wanted to hear, and other times we just listened and were silent. We established a sense of trust that allowed us to be part of the good and the bad in each others’ life.

Friendship is important on so many levels.  Friends are good for your physical and emotional health, providing a different kind of support than your spouse or children or brother or sister. Studies have shown that social isolation has a direct impact on your immune system and your ability to fight illness. The level of understanding and communication we share with friends affects our health and attitude in positive ways. Friendship gives a strong sense of connection that grounds us.

So what makes someone a good friend? There is not real formula but there are some common factors. Friends are people who make each other a priority. They allow for time together, even if it is brief. Friends think about each other and notice things that may slip by the average acquaintance. A friend has a history with you so there is knowledge that can be called on as needed. Friends don’t keep score or track of who did what, but strive for spending quality time together, just being in each other’s company.

Friends can also challenge us in ways that give us a push even as they provide a net to catch us if we aren’t quite up to the challenge.  A friend is someone we learn from and who learns from us. Take a look around and inventory your friends. Do you feel the support and encouragement you need from the friends you currently have? What do you learn from the friends you now have and what do you share with those friends that they might learn from you? 
If you aren’t happy with what you find, make some changes.  Create opportunities to make new friends. It is as important as your annual physical! Friends are an important part of a healthy life.