When was the last time you just got together with a friend for lunch, to do some kind of activity, or just to chat? As I’ve gotten older, I feel like it’s easier to make and keep friendships. Probably because I’m not dealing with popularity competitions or backstabbing like what happens in high school or the teenage years. For me, it’s all about getting to know other women who have the same interests as me. It’s about connecting with others in my neighborhood, in my professional network, at church, doing service projects, and more. As an adult, there are always opportunities to meet and get to know new people. It’s a matter of putting yourself out there without holding back!
I’ve learned over time that when I’m in a crowd of people, I tend to be the one who prefers to sit back and just observe and listen to others while taking it all in. But, when I’m in a smaller setting, I’m able to open up and just be myself! I definitely don’t like to be the center of attention, but I love in-depth conversation about anything and everything with a small number of people or one on one with someone who has similar interests as me. There’s something about connecting with people you know hold no judgments towards you that are VERY fulfilling. It’s REJUVENATING really! It makes me feel HAPPY and ALIVE. It not only helps me with my own self-confidence and energy, but it allows me to be a better woman, Mom, friend and family member!
I have found many benefits to having quality friendships in my life. These benefits outweigh my introverted-ness and make me get out of my comfort zone and talk to others. Here are three KEY reasons to allow others to be part of your life:
Healthy friendships help REDUCE stress!
I can honestly say that I’ve never left a good friend feeling more stressed. Most times, I feel like a heavy backpack has been lifted and I feel more uplifted and energized! The hope is that we enjoy our friendships and can draw on them when we need support. It could look like support as we cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one. Or, it could support that’s more practical, like a running buddy, going for a walk, a movie or getting in a good laugh.
Friends help us LEARN how to interact with just about everyone!
The people we bring into our lives as friends will show us how to forgive, laugh, and engage in conversation. The basic components of any relationship, from our marriage to our coworkers, are all founded in friendship. We learn how to interact with people because of our friends, even the ones that are opposite from us or share a different worldview.
We don’t just talk with others, but LEARN from them! We understand the process of meeting new acquaintances and finding out what makes them tick. These people help push us out of our comfort zones while still providing a safe emotional space for us to be totally ourselves.
Friendships promote overall health.
Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
A good friend is having someone who truly SEES and HEARS you! So many of the relationships in our lives require us to play a role: parent, daughter, son, sibling, spouse, boss, employee — the list can go on. But with friends, you just get to BE YOU!
Friends can change our value system so we learn to inject more meaning into our lives. In spending time with friends, we fill up our lives with great conversation, heartfelt caring, and support, and laugh out loud fun! When we fall on hard times, friends are there to put things in perspective and help us through them. When we have success, they are there to celebrate with us and be HAPPY with our good fortune! With down-to-earth, positive people in our life, we will be more mindful of gratitude and doing nice things for others which brings a feeling of peace and joy into our lives naturally.
We don’t just LIVE when we have healthy friendships, we THRIVE! So, what will you choose to do TODAY to connect with a friend? Remember, the choice is yours in creating a Happy, Healthy more Connected Life!