As promised, I did some research into the evidence supporting the importance of friendship, and there was no shortage. Studies have been done showing how vital strong friendships are to things like mental health, maintaining a healthy weight, staying happy, keeping an aging brain sharp, and much more.
Of course, we didn’t need research to tell us how valuable friends are. What was interesting to read was that despite how big some people’s online social networks are, they don’t necessarily have any more close friends than others with smaller networks.
Studies show Americans have fewer close friends today – in the age of Facebook, Twitter, email, and smart phones! – than a decade or two ago. They socialize less, discuss important life events less, engage in their community less. Sites exist to help find old friends, make new ones, chat with random people, etc, and yet, it doesn’t seem to be working!
Research tells us that people with close friends live longer, happier lives than their lonely counterparts, but it ain’t easy to make and keep close friends.
Especially for adults, making new friends and maintaining or developing older friendships takes work (and time!). It takes effort, putting ourselves out there, taking a personal emotional risk with the hopes of achieving a happiness and fulfillment we couldn’t have without friends.
Despite the work this is going to take, I think it’s worth it. And I’m going to make a plan to get my own Forever Friends.
I hope you’ll join me!