Friending the 60 Blog

 

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Charles Dickens:  There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.

I’m seeing a friend tonight that I haven’t seen in a long while. She’s my theater buddy and we’re going to see Finding Neverland.

My friend has been dealing with a very ill family member and she has understandably stepped back from extra activities (like bunco and bingo) so she can be with her family during this difficult time. I miss her.

It’s true what they say:  “Friends are therapists you can drink with.”  When I woke up this morning, I honestly was trying to think of an excuse not to go to the show tonight.  A lot of walking, a late night, wah, wah.  But really?  It’s a show I want to see, we have really great seats (fifth row center) and, most importantly, I get to see my friend after several weeks.  She’ll drink wine, I’ll drink coffee (of course), and we’ll catch up on important and non-important things.

I am rich with friends.  We sometimes bicker or feel envy, and we certainly gossip about each other.  (Am I right, friends?)  So why do we bother?  Friends make us laugh when we’re down, they’re there to slap us on the back when we have good news, and they are part of our special memories.  Having friends boosts our happiness and our health.

Studies have shown that the happiest people are the most social.   And happiness is contagious.  So if a friend of ours is happy, we’re happy too.  Thankfully, sadness isn’t as contagious.  While having a friend who is happy improves your likelihood of being happy by 15 percent, having one who is unhappy lowers your chances by just 7 percent.

Friends cut the small talk–and that makes us happy too!  We can chat with acquaintances, but when we have something more serious to discuss, we turn to a confidante.  People with the highest levels of well-being have more meaningful conversations than small talk.  (Psychological Science, 2010)

Of course, we turn to our friends when we’re stressed.  According to a UCLA study, women are much more likely than men to seek out social support (usually from other women) when they’re worried or frazzled, which may explain why stress affects men’s health more.   Our friends help us feel optimistic, which increases our satisfaction with life.

Friendships really do improve our health.  People who are lonely tend to have higher blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors, and social support truly does ward off depression and suicide.

The least socially integrated people experience memory decline twice as fast as those who are more connected.  Now, where are my car keys?  Just kidding.

 

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