One of the most important and yet least understood areas of psychology concerns the the role of friends in our everyday lives. A true friendship is in reality hard to describe but it can be defined as a relationship between two people who have a mutual affection and respect for each other. Unfortunately, most of the research on the subject matter pertains to children and adolescents, and rarely do researchers address friendships over the latter half and majority of the lifespan.
As human beings, we become so busy with our general lives (such as jobs, family and household chores) that we often neglect these important and influential people in our lives. Understanding the importance and value of friendships in your life can help you develop and nurture them better. Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well being. It is however, not always easy to build and maintain friendships. Below are a few of the benefits of friendships:
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
Human beings in general have the need to feel connected to others. A strong emotional and psychological drive leads us in search of other like minded people. They provide us with a deep sense of comfort, identity and belonging. Just having the knowledge that there is someone you can call for a shoulder to lean on or when you need a hand, provides us with a kind of peace of mind.
Friends have a positive effect on your health in terms of reducing your risk of disease. This is due to the fact that having friend’s lower things like blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. They also increase self esteem and your sense of belonging. For example, research has shown that older people are more at risk of dementia with increased feelings of loneliness. It is important to recognize the distinction between “being alone” and “feeling alone” as one indicates a perceived absence of social attachments.
Studies have shown that hanging out with friends is a powerful repellent for loneliness. While some people may be more of loners than others, we all tend to need some form of honest and personal interaction with other people at certain times. Human beings are generally social animals and friends supply the perfect anti loneliness remedy. This is particularly relevant for individuals who suffer depression and are at high risk of suicidal tendencies.
A Sounding Board
A good friend will allow you to bounce your ideas and share your dreams and frustrations with. They provide a safety zone where you don’t have to worry about being judged or ridiculed and are free to be yourself. They are in a way your own free personal therapists as a good friend will try to patiently listen to you.
Trust is one of the most important elements in all friendships and it is crucial to note that it is a two-way street. Friendship involves being open and honest and provides you with opportunities to not only learn how to be trusting but also how to be trustworthy.
Learning Vital Skills
Friendships can provide you with the very abilities an individual may need to be successful in life. Friends help you know yourself better and also inspire each other to reach your goals and advance your career. In addition they may also help you in meeting romantic partners and living a longer beautiful and healthier life.
As an individual you may doubt your decisions and abilities but your true and good friends would not. Your friends’ belief in you will make you believe in yourself and help you take risks you weren’t confident in taking.
When you have a good friend you have a good listener. Sometimes when we go through difficult times, we just want someone who would listen to us and not judge us or ‘preach’ to us. Having a friend makes this possible.
Sometimes we go too far in our actions and decisions, and having friends can help keep us in check. This helps us not to make horrible mistakes which could be avoided. Whiles you can have friends that could influence you on picking up bad addictive habits or practices like gambling, drugs, smoking and alcoholism, good friends can likewise help pull you out of any bad and unhealthy habit or practice.