As we approach the International Day of Friendship, let’s take a dive into the positive power of friendships!
This special day was proclaimed by the UN “with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.”1 Friendships can have a powerful influence on our communities – forming bonds that can cross religious, racial, economic, age, and education divides.
On a personal level though, friendships also have incredible benefits for our mental wellbeing, physical health, and happiness.
Friends increase our happiness
A good friend is someone we can share a laugh with, bond over shared loves and shared values, who supports us both in who we are and in who we aspire to be. A healthy friendship gives us someone to share our life with. Whether it’s at work, or a sports club, at church, or in our street – friends make life more enjoyable and enrich our everyday experiences.
Imagine walking into a busy party, you’ve arrived alone. What is the first thing you do? You look for your friends – and as you find them you feel a release of tension. Now the fun can start!
No one wants to be alone at a party (unless they’re there to make new friends!) because we all want to feel like we belong. Friendships give us a sense of security, people that we can be ourselves around and let down the guards that we might have to normally have up in the workplace, or with family, or with strangers.
Friends are our people.
Friends relieve our burdens
The human experience is complex, and life can be a series of ups and downs. Many of us go through periods of difficulty – relationships breakdown, employment ends, sickness encroaches, and grief hits. In those times, friendship shines.
Friends are able to provide us with all sorts of support during tough times. Whether that is a listening ear, or being taken out for a coffee, or someone to come and give some practical support around the house.
It is often said that a burden shared is a burden halved, and that is most certainly true. Sometimes all we want is someone who will listen to us and validate our emotions. This is especially important when we face a problem which has no solution, such as the loss of a loved one.
When we face a practical problem, a coffee with a friend can work wonders for helping us move beyond our frustration and towards constructive action. By being both more objective, standing outside of our problem, and also invested in our well-being, friends often are able to reflect back to us insights into ourselves or our issues that we might not otherwise see.
When expressed mutually this support dynamic, self-disclosure and supportiveness, is one of the key elements of a strong friendship because it builds intimacy and stands on a foundation of good communication.2
Friends bring life… literally!
Studies have shown that having a solid network of friends brings a host of health benefits, including higher levels of fitness, better brain health, greater recovery rates from serious disease, and stronger memory and concentration.3
These benefits all amount to leading a longer, happier, and healthier life!
On top of this, we can take satisfaction in knowing that our friendship brings these same benefits to the people we care about as well.
So, make the most of the power of friendship to improve your life and bring you happiness, by reaching out to people around you and sharing life with them. Also, you can get involved with CatholicCare Victoria through volunteering and build friendships with likeminded people while serving people in need in our community.
1. Friendship Day, United Nations
2. Friendship: The Laws of Attraction, Karen Karbo, Psychology Today
3. Friends, not family, keep the brain healthy, NeuroNation
Brent Grimes | Communications Officer