Posted by: tk729 | November 12, 2010

Friendships: Enrich Your Life and Improve Your Health

People have always understood the value of family, but it turns out that the value of good friends may be more significant.  Good friends discourage unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and heavy drinking.  Friends also ward off depression, boost self-esteem, and provide support.  Close relationships with relatives in contrast had no effect on longevity.  They are still important, but have little effect on survival.

Women are better at maintaining friendships than men.  According to Shelley E. Taylor, PhD, a psychology professor at UCLA, “… women seemed more geared to empathy, while male friendships are more geared to companionship and altruism.” “Male friendships are more about helping each other — mending the lawn mower, that sort of thing. Women’s friendships tend to have a more emotional content — listening to friends’ stories and coming up with helpful solutions.”

Looks like men can learn a few lessons on friendship from women.

Below are some ways to actively seek out friendships.  Learn more about the benefits of friendships from the Mayo Clinic.


Meeting new people
Here are some ways you can develop friendships:

1)       Get out with your pet. Make conversation with those who stop to talk on your daily neighborhood jaunts.

2)       Work out. Join a class through a local gym or start a walking group.

3)       Do lunch. Invite an acquaintance to join you for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

4)       Accept invites. Resist the urge to say no because you may not know everyone there. You can leave if you get too  uncomfortable.

5)       Volunteer. You can form strong connections when you work with people who share a mutual interest.

6)       Join a cause. Get together with a group of people working toward a goal you believe in, such as an election or the cleanup of a natural area.

7)       Join a hobby group. Find a nearby group with similar interests in such things as auto racing, music, gardening, books or crafts.

8)       Go back to school. Take a college or community education course to meet people with similar interests.

9)       Hang out on your porch. If you don’t have a front porch,  pull up a chair and sit out front with a  good book. Making yourself visible shows that you are friendly and open.

10)   Join a church or faith community.



  1. I agree that engaging in different types of activities help take your mind of problems which. help boost your relationship with others and value life in general

  2. I couldn’t agree more on the impact that friendships have. I was having a hard time motivating myself to go and workout but then I found a friend who wanted to work out with me. Now that I have someone relying on me, I find that I am more motivated to workout. Now I am working out 3x a week all because I found a friend to workout with.

  3. This is a great list of things to help improve health. I really do think that friendships really help make people happy, especially when the relationships are healthy and fulfilling. It is also the best when one can be a friend themselves!

  4. I love this list! I have been making it a goal of mine to put myself out there and make more friends instead of staying with my normal group of friends, and I have to say doing these things on the list really works. They help you put you in situations that you normally wouldn’t be in to meet new people. This truly helps you be happy and increases the value of life.

  5. good stuff. these should really help improve one’s health

  6. I really like that there is such a strong correlation between positive friendships and good health. The true, good friends I have have taught me so much and help me in so many ways. One specific example is the help of my friends in promoting more exercise opportunities, I am much more likely to go for a jog or to the gym if friends are coming along.

  7. I think that is awesome, different kinds of activities make things so much less mundane!!

  8. I may be a little bias because I’m a girl, but I think that friendships are really important. Woman tend to need to talk things out I think, and so having a friend that you can always turn to is kinda like cheap therapy. :p

  9. I had to move around a lot as a kid, and I have definitely noticed a difference in my life when I do or do not have people to hang out with. The moment I make a friend, the better I start to feel about my life and myself.

  10. Agreed on the working out note. Some of the best friendships I have ever made were with people I ran with after school. There’s something about exercise that makes friendship really easy to make.

  11. Choosing good friends is like hand holds in rock climbing. If you choose wisely they will elevate you and take you to the next level. However, if you choose poorly you can find yourself falling fast to your own demise.

  12. I’m with everyone else on the value of friends, and I’d like to also add that the friends I’ve made through volunteer groups and church have been really great. You start out with a common bond, and, like with working out, they encourage you to keep being dedicated to things that really matter. This does also improve health – I think I read something about how doing service improves mental health and when you’re doing it with friends, all the better!

  13. What a wonderful topic! After having been at the Y for so many years now, I forgot what it’s like to be lonely and not surrounded by friends. At one point or another we all face times when we’re without friends, so the advice on how/where to make new ones is great. Friendship=health, go figure.

  14. Friends really are the best. Spending time with people that I love helps me to be happier and more positive with life. When I am surrounded by people that I enjoy, life seems so much better.

  15. I definitely agree with this, friends have made a huge imact on my life. It is so important you have at least one very good friend who you can rely on and trust.

  16. When I transferred to BYU I really didn’t know anybody up here. I was lonely for a lot of the time and didn’t feel like I fit in at all. I struggled to find people I could relate to but when I finally did find those people I was so much happier. Because my family was not around my friends became my family and helped me get through a lot of struggles. Friends are essential to being healthy and happy. I know the friends that I have now are also my running partners and we motivate each other to be fit and happy:)

  17. This is a great post! I have seen huge benefits from my relationships with my friends. Although its disappointing that women are better at maintaining friendships than men.

  18. Friendships have improved my health. When I have less of a social support, I have noticed my health worsen as well. There are mental and biological benefits that come from having friends and a social support system. Thanks for the post.

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