Friendship = Happiness
Spending time with friends is enjoyable, but it may also yield a multitude of long-term physical and emotional health benefits. Studies show that healthy relationships make aging fun, diminish grief, and provide camaraderie to help you reach personal goals. Maintaining positive relationships should rank up there with healthy eating and exercise as a necessary investment in your health.
Studies show that the more women engage socially with friends and family during a given week, the happier they are. In addition, friends can help you to achieve fitness or weight goals. The encouragement and the feeling of belonging boosts willpower. Moreover, happiness is infectious. If you have a friend that you believe to be happy, spend more time with him or her. A study of 4,739 adults who participated in the Framingham Heart Study between 1983 and 2003 showed that people tend to cluster into happy or unhappy groups, and happiness appears to spread not just to those immediately inside the social group, but to their contacts as well. Actively building relationships and fostering these to be meaningful is a powerful predictor of contentment.
Another benefit of friendship is that being socially engaged leads to more positive emotions, which in turn may actually boost your body’s immune system and reduce the physical signs of stress, say health experts. On the flip side a mildly or chronically depressed friend can bring you down as well. It helps to have a diverse group of friends to lessen this impact.
Being a good friend yourself, providing others with all these benefits is also important to a long and fulfilling life. It feels great to help others in need and that only adds to your own long-term happiness.
Photo Courtesy of AARP