The Importance of Maintaining Good Friendships
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Many people will walk in and out of your life; but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” Friends and friendship have been important to humans since the beginning of time. What is friendship? Friendship is defined as a relationship between two people who have mutual trust, respect and affection for each other. However, friendship is deeper than words can define. Friends are one of the most precious treasures in our life.
Having good friends provides many benefits. According to a research study of 1500 participants over 10 years conducted by Flinders University, they concluded that people with a large network of friends outlived those with little or no network of friends by 22%. In 2010, Brigham Young University researched 308,849 people of an average age of 63.9 years. These studies looked at the relationship between social relationships and mortality risk. They concluded that people who enjoyed strong social ties had a 50% increased likelihood of survival compared to people with little or no social ties.
What Friendships Do
· Improve sense of self esteem
· Improve ability to manage stress
· Improve stress management
· Increase self esteem and self-confidence
· Can improve your ability and confidence to be successful
· Provide a sense of acceptance and belonging.
· Provides support in good and bad times.
Obtaining a support system sometimes occurs naturally through your parents, siblings or others in your family, and sometimes a support system is developed by adding friends, neighbors, coworkers or others such as people from your church. As we get older, a support system can also include a sponsor, a doctor or a therapist. Developing and maintaining friendships within your support system is very important for your mental and physical health, and there are many things that are vital to maintaining these positive friendships.
Creating Strong Connections
1. Show you care: Showing you care may sound simple, but often, we take those closest to us for granted when we might take more than we give back. When you show appreciation and kindness, your friends know you care too. Kindness and caring are attributes that people seek in their friends, so it is important to show that you care and can be cared about. Make sure you acknowledge the small things: say thank you, return favors, and remember special dates (birthdays).
2. Show interest in your friend’s life: Know what is going on in their life. Not every conversation should be focused on your issues or problems. Allow time for you to listen to your friend’s problems or concerns, and get to know what you friend has happening in their lives, both good and bad. Demonstrate happiness for the positive events and sympathy for the negative situations.
3. Build Trust: Ensure that you work on building and maintaining trust with your friends. Be reliable, honorable, honest and consistent. Trust is what all healthy relationships are built on and maintained on, and honesty is one of the keys to trust.
4. Enjoy Each Other: Have fun, and take time to enjoy activities, hobbies or people together. The ability to have fun with someone allows us to enjoy the positives in life with someone else who can appreciate and theirfore contribute to our wellbeing. This reinforces our sense of happiness and our need for the relationship.
5. Unconditional Love: A true friend or family member loves you unconditionally, but you also need to learn how to show unconditional love to others as well. Maintaining a reciprocal standard of unconditional love helps the relationship to sustain itself and grow - Unconditional love means to help bring the other person to their fullest potential.
Your support system begins when you are born, and it begins with your immediate and extended family. Over time, it changes and people are added as friendships develop. Friendships can develop at any age. However, the concept of friendship develops early in life when we are all taught to be kind, to share, to show respect, and to build relationships. Friends can help us to feel loved, allow us to love them, and encourage and support you. They can help you to grow and develop with compassion and also with challenges. Being able to obtain and sustain friendships is a vital part of life. Nurturing the current relationships in your support system can help you to maintain and grow your relationships with those already in your network, and this can help to expand your network to include others. Relationships take time and effort to develop, build, and grow, so a truly successful friendship develops over time and is sustained with a focus upon nurturing the relationship.
- Kim B.
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