Why are your friends important?

I am in a period of my life, where I find a lot of delight around my friends.  Their love

is very obvious and I find myself feeling very happy and very loved when I am around them.

Perhaps their love is more obvious because we are about to move to another country, and they seem to realize that our time together is soon to be over for a period of time, therefore it is easier for them to express their love to me. I don’t know if this is the real reason, but I do know that I feel happy when they are around. Or perhaps, because I am going, I seem to value them more, because I don’t know if I will find  good friends of this quality on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Whatever the reason, I find positive relationships important, and here are some of the psychological reasons why.

Not long ago I finished writing a book entitled “How to improve your relationships in a nutshell” (which you can buy through Amazon.com), and in the process of writing and researching I realized that positive relationships can really improve our level of happiness.

Relationships according to Tel Ben-Shaham are: “having people about whom we care and who care about us to share our lives with, to share the events and thoughts and feelings in our lives, intensifies our experience of meaning, consoles us in our pain, deepens our sense of delight in the world.” (Ben-Shahar 2007, page 111).
Rober Waldinger who recently spoke in TED’s talk and shared the conclusions of a longitudinal study from Harvard that lasted more than 75 years and studied two groups of men. They learned that good relationships make us happier and healthier.

3 lessons from this study about relationships show that:

1. Social connections are very good for us. Good relationships keep us alive and happier. People who have good connections with their family, friends and community live longer than people who are lonely. People who feel lonely and isolated are less happy, their health declines earlier in mid-life, and experience earlier neural deterioration.

2. The quality of your close relationships matters: living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health, and living in the midst of good and warm relationships protects it.

3. Good relationships not only protect our bodies, but they also protect our brains. The people who feel that they are in a secure and attached relationship and have people they can count on in times of need, have sharper memories when they reach their 80’s.
It is important to remember that investing in our relationships takes time and effort. Michael Hyatt a professional blogger on leaderships says that “what does not get scheduled does not happen”.

I was not very serious about this until I became a mother. My day started and ended with my providing for the needs of my children, and some days I barely had time to shower. I became burnt out and felt tired most of the time, until I started to schedule time for “me.” This time usually involved exercising, spending time with God and doing something I enjoyed, as well as some monthly dates with friends.

I encourage you today, that no matter in what part of your life you find yourself, you take the time to find the people who you feel closer to and spend time together. Perhaps they are not easy to find, or they are always too busy, but don’t stop trying, because a great deal of our happiness depends on finding those personal connections that nurture our heart and make us become better people.

Invest in them, I can assure you, it is worth it!.

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