My circle is small, but the love is enormous and genuine. It gets no better. — Alex Elle
You’ve got a friend in me.
Friendships make us happy and help us to have full and richer lives. Merriam Webster defines a Best Friend as:
- : a person’s closet and dearest friend
- : a person’s most desirable or valuable possession or resource
Isn’t that amazing? The dictionary defines a best friend as somebody’s most valuable possession. But come to think of it, when we look back on our lives and what means the most to us, our most valuable possession probably is our friendships with best friends and family – those who have been with us through it all without fail, continually loving us through it all.
What are the benefits of friendships?
Think back on your life and the number of friends you have had over the years. Some come and go, but the truly special ones last for a lifetime. You might have 1,000 friends on Facebook, but when it comes down to it, there is probably only one or two that come to mind when you think of your best friends.
Developing and maintaining friendships takes time and effort but healthy friendships can have huge benefits:
1. Encouragement and support
Having social support is so important during tough times. This can simply be someone willing to listen or help lessen the burden of your problems.
2. Self-esteem and self-worth
By providing that support network, friends can also be there to boost you and help to build your confidence to try new things and help you to reach your goals. By being there for someone else, you improve your self-worth which can make you feel needed, giving a purpose to your life.
3. Keeping you active
Encouragement from a friend can help boost your chances of success, increasing the likelihood that you will go out of the house or visit new places. You may be more likely to try activities or a new hobby by having a friend that encourages you to step out of your comfort zone!
4. Improve your health and wellbeing
Having an active social life can help to reduce your feelings of loneliness and isolation and improve your overall wellbeing by reducing your chances of feeling stressed. This ultimately reduces the negative impact of stress and depression on your immune system.
5. Positive influence
Surround yourself with positive people and you too will feel more positive! By elevating your mood, happy positive friends can boost your outlook and improve your mood.
6. Support as you age
Knowing that there is someone to turn to as we age and experience significant life events such as retirement, the passing of a loved one, and illness can help you feel supported and reduce the negative impacts of your wellbeing.
Your wellbeing and happiness can be greatly impacted by friendships. Having good friends can provide support and comfort as well as relieve stress and prevent loneliness. There have also been links with friends improving the longevity of your life!
So what do you need for strong friendships?
There are seven ancient Greek words for love: philia, storage, agape, eros, ludus, pragma and philautia. Philia is the love of friendship founded on goodness and understanding. Friendships that experience philia love are founded on goodness, mutual benefit, companionship, trust, and dependability.
Let’s take a look at why these are important:
Having trust in a friendship enables you to talk to one another in complete confidence and respect which helps you to share your feelings or experiences without judgement. You can completely count on one another!
For a healthy relationship, it is so important to be able to make decisions together and to be able to comprise and understand each other’s perspective – even if you don’t always agree!
Being able to show empathy is key. Be a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen to really show your friend support.
Being completely honest and truthful can be a tough characteristic to master! Having conversations where you are always honest may be difficult but helps to form strong friendships.
Last but not least, personal space is vital to allow your friend to be independent and be able to be alone, have other friends and interests, and grow as a person.
Philia is a beautiful type of love because we choose to love them. Even when we wrong our friends, they choose to forgive us and love us anyway. We make the choice to befriend and love them because their friendship is worth it.
Who is that person or people in your life?
Think of that person and the specific moments you have had with them that really built your friendship and bonded the relationship. What were those moments?
Perhaps it was that they helped you through a hard time like the loss of a loved one. They were the one that brought you home-cooked meals and sat with you hours on end while they held you through the tears when nobody else showed up. Perhaps it was the moments you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe. Those times you laughed so hard you were sure that when you lifted your shirt, you’d have a six-pack under there (we can all hope, right?). Perhaps it was the moments they went completely out of their way to plan a surprise birthday party for you and even thought to track down that person from yoga class you mentioned to them once because they were really paying attention to you. Or maybe it’s just been the culmination of all the little moments where they’ve just shown up for you throughout your life.
Think of that person and those special moments. Take a moment to be thankful for their friendship. Be thankful that they chose you and love you for who you are, wherever you’re at in life – through the good, bad, and ugly. Give them a call today, send them some flowers, or do something thoughtful to say ‘thank you.’ Because through all that life throws your way, you know they’re going to be there cheering you on.