My Friendship Post

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
posted by elizabeth @ 9:46 AM

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light,” said Helen Keller.  Friendship can be a magnificent addition to our lives.  We cannot live happily or healthily without friends.   They fill our hearts, our minds, our souls, our days, and our plans.  A good friendship can stand the test of time, and almost any test, I would say.

Did you know that friendship is an important part of your daily health?    Dr. Dean Ornish, known for his work in coronary artery disease and a Baylor College of Medicine grad, states in his book, The Scientific Basis for the Healing of Intimacy, that no other factor in medicine “not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery – has a greater effect on how often we get sick than the healing power of love and intimacy.”  Plainly stated, friends keep us healthy.  He went on to say in an article in 2012, “Intimacy is healing. Study after study have shown that people who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are three to 10 times more likely to get sick and die prematurely than those who have strong experiences and networks of connection and community.”   

How many friends do we really need to be happy and healthy? According to research, not a specific number is required. However, a study of 100,000 people found we only have about six good friends (Timesonline.co.uk – 11-28-03).  Six!  And, although we make almost 400 friends in our lifetime, only 33 of those will be lasting friendships (MailOnline.com).    Susan Quilliam, a leading British relationship psychologist, said: “Two generations ago we probably would not have made anywhere near 400 friends.”  But, we are more mobile now and we see “friends” in larger social circles, which makes the definition of “friend” different than it used to be.

Social media has added a new dynamic in what it means to be a friend, as well.  Are friends on Facebook really “friends?”  And, how does that play into our health as Ornish described?  While I am a definitely a user of Social Media, I see the pitfalls.  How easy is it to feel left out when you see others in your social circle attending an event together?    Or, does envy crop up when you see your neighbor on their beach vacation?   I believe these “friends” can actually undo the health of the true friendships.

Research has also shown that the greatest of friendships should be the one with your spouse.   I read a quote from an 87-year-old participant in the Legacy Project (headed by Dr. Karl A. Pillemer) that said, “Think back to the playground when you were a child. Your spouse should be that other kid you would most like to play with!”  I love that.   We should all be so lucky!  Aristotle said, “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”  I think he was on to something, too.  

I am extremely grateful for my friends, including my wonderful husband.  They are all truly a blessing to me.  And, I hope I am to them.   Recently, I met one of my favorite people for dinner.    I didn’t have to say two words before she know something was wrong.  I love that she knows my heart and my soul so intimately.  What a blessing she is. As well as my high school friends who never change to me, no matter how long times passes before we see each other.    I also love that friends not only fill challenging times, but they also add value and frivolity in other ways.   Such as a group of friends who get together monthly to celebrate our birthdays.  I have loved our Secret Santa tradition.   And, I truly love to see my husband walk in the door.  No one knows me better than he.

One of the greatest examples of friendship comes from The Hundred Acre Wood.  Their friendships are faithful and true.  As Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”   That type of encouragement and love is what makes friendship special. 

-Elizabeth Biar

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