Having a friend (or friends) is undoubtedly a comforting thing. With friends, you have a group of “your” people. You can share ideas openly with like-minded individuals and get positive feedback. But is that all that friendship is all about? I believe that friendship is about a whole lot more.
If you already have a group of friends that you spend time with, you probably have experienced most of the below-mentioned benefits and advantages of friendship. If you haven’t and you have been holding back and shielding yourself from making friends, you could be missing out on all of these great benefits. Perhaps now is the time to turn things around and put yourself out there a bit more.
It’s undeniable that friendship is beneficial. People without friends might not know about all the good that they are missing in their life. Below are 16 of the many benefits and advantages that you can expect from friendship.
16 ways friendship can benefit your life:
1. Always an opportunity for fun.
When you don’t have friends to call and invite out, you don’t have as many opportunities to do fun things such as go bowling, have a picnic, go on a hike, go to the movies, and so on. Having friends means that there is always the opportunity to have fun.
2. Provides you with a sense of belonging.
According to Psychology Today, a sense of belonging is:
“a human need, just like the need for food and shelter. Feeling that you belong is most important in seeing value in life and in coping with intensely painful emotions.”Karyn Hall Ph.D. – Psychology Today
This quote from the Psychology Today website really explains that belonging is a basic human need, and having friends satisfies this particular need.
3. Get support through traumas and bad days.
When going through trauma, such as the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or a sick child, it can be hard to accept emotional support from strangers, even if they are professionals. Having a friend who understands who you are and how you deal with things can be really supportive and helpful.
4. Helps reduce stress levels.
Researchers have proven that the body deals with stress more effectively when you have friends. This is because you will spend time unwinding and relaxing with friends, which leads to the production of cortisol, which is a calming, stress-reducing hormone.
5. Increases feelings of happiness and excitement.
When you have someone (or people) to share your good news and achievements with, you start to develop healthier inner happiness and excitement. In general, if you want to look forward to sharing your good news, having friends that will cheer for you can be quite beneficial.
6. Have access to a confidant to provide you with honest opinions and advice.
Only friends will be comfortable enough to tell you the honest truth and provide you with advice that is in your best interests. If you ask for opinions and advice from people who are not close to you, they may be too polite to give you the best possible honest advice.
7. Achieve greater personal growth.
When we have friends and hear about their achievements and have decent positive-sounding boards, we want to do better and improve on ourselves. The psychology behind that is that we want to mimic what our social peers are like. When your friends are bettering themselves, you’ll feel like doing the same (and vice versa).
8. Increases physical immunity.
There are several scientific studies that point towards people with a strong social support system having a stronger immune system and anti-inflammatory response. When a person has good friends to lift their spirits, they tend to heal quicker and develop a stronger defense against certain diseases such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and similar.
9. Improves self-confidence and self-esteem.
Let’s talk about self-confidence and self-esteem…not everyone is just born with these attributes. When a person doesn’t have friends, they usually tend to feel insecure, withdrawn, and alone. Having friends, who value your opinion and enjoy your company, will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem, which can really filter through into all areas of your life.
10. Ensures unconditional support.
Unconditional support is something that we all need. Of course, this is provided within reason in a friendship. For instance, if you commit a crime, you cannot really expect (in most situations) another person to prove their friendship by covering you up. But it’s quite helpful to have unconditional support in other regards…Ever just needed someone to hear you moan and groan about a problem in your life, even though you know that you are the cause and could have handled things differently? Well, that’s what friendship is about.
Friends aren’t about “I told you so” scenarios. Friends are there to provide support, even when you do something wrong. And that is highly valuable.
11. Encourages you to live a healthier and fitter lifestyle.
When you have a friend to encourage you to eat healthier, go to the gym, meet for a walk, and make better drinking choices, you can stay on track with your health goals a whole lot easier. Friends often encourage each other to make better choices for their lives.
12. Provides a group of people you can always be yourself with.
Most of us, when we socialize with strangers, aren’t entirely ourselves. There’s a level of politeness that acts as a barrier between you and the people who don’t really know you. When you have friends that you are familiar with, you can arrive at a meetup, talk about your issues which they are already caught up on, and generally just relax and unwind. This is extremely healthy if you have a busy and stressful life.
13. Always have company on demand (beats loneliness).
Ever just wanted to grab a pizza and a movie at the last minute? Have you ever just needed to have a quick cup of coffee and chat? Friends make it possible to get out and have some good company, without having to plan ahead. This goes a long way to quelling feelings of isolation and loneliness.
14. Share ideas with like-minded people.
Because we generally choose friends on social habits and things in common, it makes it possible to have open conversations with people who have similar life views and values. This can be extremely rewarding. Having good friends allows you to bounce ideas off each other, and you never have to feel like you will be shouted down or have entirely different opinions and values.
15. Feel loved and cared for.
When you have friends who care for you, check in on you, and keep up with you, you feel generally loved and cared for. This can really give you a good reason to be alive and live your best life. Without friends, it can feel like you are alone in the world and no one cares about you. If you are feeling alone, now is the time to reach out and make some friends.
16. Provides an opportunity to develop social skills.
When socializing with friends, you learn what is appropriate and what is not in a social setting. This can really help you in other areas of your life too. The more you spend time with friends, the easier it gets. If you are a socially awkward or shy person, spending more time with friends can help you to come out of your shell and feel more comfortable in your own skin.
All in all
By the abovementioned advantages and benefits, having friends can seem like a selfish endeavor. After all, you get so must out of the situation. But keep in mind that it is just as beneficial for the people you are friends with as they will be enjoying the very same benefits and advantages.
Keep in mind that friendships are about giving and taking. In order for other people to derive value from a friendship with you, you must be just as willing to be caring, supportive, fun, excited, and willing to share your life. In all the years that I have spent seeking out good friends, I have found that I truly am at my best when I have a handful of close friends to spend time with and connect with. If you have been wondering if it is really worth it having friends… it is!