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The Anatomy of Good Friendships Author: Radonda Rowton, LPC

My daughter recently got married. Anyone who has successfully planned and executed a wedding in 2020 knows that it wasn’t for the faint of heart. After 3 wedding dates, the third time was a charm. One of the most awkward things to happen was to find out that we had to cut our wedding guest list from 250 to 125. The first wedding date was in May, so the wedding invitations had already been sent out. This meant that we had to sit down and decide who we were going to keep on the list and who we had to take off the list.We then had to contact those people who we had to take off the list and let them know that they were no longer invited. Sounds like fun, right? That last comment is definitely a sarcastic one because it was excruciating for our family. Why? Because these are people that we have relationship with and have come to love. Although people were more than gracious, it didn’t make us feel any better that we had to uninvite so many really wonderful people. Not only that, the friends and family from out of town that we did invite had to change airplane reservations 3 times. We were so honored that they would go through so much to be with us to celebrate our daughter. I was left to marvel at this concept we call friendship, because I have realized over and over through the years how much our friends have enriched our lives.

Here are some thoughts….

The people we bring into our lives as friends will show us how to forgive, laugh, and make conversation. The basic components of any relationship, from our marriage to our coworkers, were 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. The truth is that friends can challenge us, confuse us, and sometimes, even make us wonder why we bother.

Why do these people become so crucial to our wellbeing? Because we don’t just talk with others, but we also learn from them. We learn to 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.

A recent Harvard study concluded that having solid friendships in our life even helps promote brain health. Friends help us deal with stress, make better lifestyle choices that keep us strong, and allow us to rebound from health issues and disease more quickly.

Friendship is also a mood enhancer. One study even suggested spending time with positive friends can change our outlook for the better. That means we are happier when we choose to spend time with happy people. (All the more reason to leave that toxic friendship behind).

Although friends don’t completely cure loneliness, they can definitely help us during lonely times. We learn how to accept kindness and how to reach out when we need help. Those painful times when we might be without friends also help us to appreciate the friendships that come in and out of our lives. Having a steady stream of friends lets us know that some friendships may not last forever, but each one can bring something special. We learn more about ourselves and how important it is to have someone, just one person, who knows and understands us and who accepts us exactly as we are at that moment. This is the key to coming out of loneliness.

Friends can help us 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. When we have success, they are smiling at 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. We do not just live when we have healthy friendships, we thrive.

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