Happy friends make a happy us.
Friendships are indispensable for our well-being. They give meaning to our lives. These are the vital bonds we risk neglecting so often in our crazy busy lives today.
Four truths about friendships:
- We are not born with our friends, but we choose them.
- We cannot create friendships artificially, as they will see through it.
- Friendships need enough time to grow into lifelong bonds.
- Happiness is contagious among friends; our joy touches them while their delight touches us.
A happy friend of a friend increases your odds of happiness by 9.8%. A happy friend who lives within a half-mile (0.8 km) makes you 42% more likely to be happy yourself. You are 45% more likely to be happy if a friend of yours became happy in the past six months.
20 Great Things Friends Do Together For Happiness
We now bring you this list of 20 things best friends do to be happy together, backed by scientific research.
- My friend makes me feel good about my ideas
- We make up easily when we fight
- My friend helps me with activities when we hang out
- We meet up frequently for social activities
- We always tell each other our problems
- My friend likes me more than anyone else in our social group
- My friend gives me confidence in my abilities
- We get over our arguments very quickly
- We help each other with our work a lot
- We discuss personal and emotional issues frequently
- We help each other with our work a lot
- We make each other feel special and important
- We talk about resolving differences between us
- My friend frequently offers me constructive advice
- I talk to my friend when I am angry about something that happens to me
- We disagree on things sometimes
- My friend and I fight sometimes
- We always team up to do things together
- We meet up frequently for non-social, non-group activities
- I like my friend more than I like others in my peer group
Happiness Is Contagious: Facts
Here goes perhaps the most vital finding of our times: The happiness of your friends affects you in impressive and remarkable ways. Happiness is indeed contagious among friends. As if a network phenomenon, happiness casts ripples through your social network (we discuss this later in this article).
In Dec 2008, a study published in the British Medical Journal, carried out by Harvard University researchers James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis found:
- Knowing someone who is happy makes you 15.3% more likely to be happy yourself.
- A happy friend of a friend increases your odds of happiness by 9.8%.
- A happy friend who lives within a half-mile (0.8 km) makes you 42% more likely to be happy yourself.
- You are 45% more likely to be happy if a friend of yours became happy in the past six months.
- Happy people in geographic proximity were most effective in spreading their good cheer. If that same friend lives two miles away, his impact drops to 22%. Happy friends who are more distant have no discernible impact, according to the study.
- The happiest people were at the center of large social networks.
- The spread of happiness reaches up to 3 degrees of separation, just like the spread of obesity and smoking behavior.
For the study, they had constructed a social network that included 12,067 study volunteers who linked to each other through 53,228 connections. They concluded our happiness depends on the happiness of our connections.
Happy Among Friends
Happiness is a fundamental object of human existence, so much so that nations all over the world are more and more emphasizing happiness as a component of health. The causes of modern social problems, from divorce to homelessness and obesity, are often thought to be based in areas such as poverty, stress, or unhappiness.
Friends help us live longer and happier lives. People with strong social ties are 50% less likely to die early. Research shows it is as good as quitting smoking. And even better than getting regular exercise and staying at a healthy weight.
“A lack of social relationships was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day,” said the lead researcher psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad.
Regular contact with ten or more friends significantly increases our happiness. People with fewer friends report lower levels of happiness.
College friends who reported having strong friendships were half as likely to catch a common cold when exposed to the virus as against their peers with fewer friends.
A study showed having a friend by your side can actually make a hill look less steep.
This study found when a best friend was present, it serves as protection against the effect of negative experiences. When a best friend was not present, there was a significant increase in cortisol and a significant decrease in global self-worth as the negativity of the experience increased. When a best friend was present, there was less change in cortisol and global self-worth due to the negativity of the experience.
Tom Rath, the Gallup Organization’s director, believes that we are all aware of the value of friendship, especially during difficult times. In his book, Vital Friends, Rath makes the point that if you ask people why they became homeless, why their marriage failed or why they overeat, they often say it is because of the poor quality, or nonexistence, of friendships. They feel outcast or unloved.
The philosopher and polymath Aristotle said about friends some 2300 years ago:
In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.
And the far-thinking Greek philosopher Epicurus said of friendships:
Of all the means to insure happiness throughout the whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition of friends.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy – a medical doctor, psychology writer, happiness researcher. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related medical topics.
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