I realised I went off on a tangent on my last post about toxic friendships…erm how that relates to ‘faking it’ til you make it, apart from not wanting to be like your toxic friends, I’m not really sure! So, thank you for your readership and feedback- it really will shape the posts you read on here and it is very valuable to me, so please keep it coming- it truly is a win-win 😃.
I’ve edited my last post and included the toxic friendship tips in this one…so when you feel a de ja vu while you’re reading it’s probably because your reading the part from my last post.
So here it is: A post dedicated to the friendships in our life. I totally believe that maintaining positive relationships ranks up there with healthy eating and exercise as a necessary investment in your health. Let’s look at the positive effect a good friendship has on our lives.
Why should we have good friends?
1. To boost your own happiness!
If a friend of ours is happy, we’re more likely to be, too. A Harvard Medical School study of 5,000 people over 20 years found that one person’s happiness spreads through their social group and that the effect lasts as long as a year. On the flip side, sadness isn’t as contagious: While having a friend who’s happy improves your likelihood of being happy by 15 percent, having one who’s unhappy lowers your chances by just 7 percent. So you’re more likely to be affected positively than not. Worth a shot, don’t ya think?! Also, it’s important to note that either way, it helps to have a diverse group of friends to lessen this impact.
2. To reduce your stress levels.
A problem shared and all that. ‘A small new study shows that during stressful times, being around a best friend decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol.’ (Huffington Post, Sept 2011). Their company actually reduces your chemical stress levels! Fantastic.
3. To improve your self-confidence and self-worth.
you need to be convinced of this fact, here are four ways friends can help build your self-confidence:
1) Friends cheer our successes
Whether it’s acing an exam or getting a promotion at work, our friends take pride in our achievements. They are there for us when we need encouraging and are abundant with their praise. Thanks guys!
2) Friends model new ways of being
Every friend has some strengths or skills that help us strive to do things a better way. We might see a friend give a talk before a large group and win the favor of the audience, and wonder whether we might be able to do the very same thing. We might see them display a new skill like sewing or painting and become really inspired ourselves. Without close contact with this friend, we might never have considered trying out this new experience.
3) Friends support our efforts to grow
Sometimes the biggest deterrent to accomplishing our goals is thinking that we can’t. Friends sometimes see strengths in us that we aren’t able to recognize ourselves and give us the encouragement to try something new or do something better.
4) Friends teach us the value of teamwork:
We may be too timid or insecure to introduce our selves to new people or places, or too frightened to try something new or differently. But when we are working or playing alongside a friend, we suddenly see our energy and creativity blossom, enabling us to soar higher than we ever imagined.
This list of reasons our friends help build our confidence has been adapted from a longer article. Read the whole article here.
3. To help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one.
Friends are there to wipe away our tears. Everyone has failures or bumps along the road, whether it’s losing a crucial deal at work or the life-changing loss of a loved one. Friends help us deal with our problems, even big ones, helping us keep things in perspective. After having a good friend’s ‘shoulder to cry on’, it’s easier to cope with life, it will help you gain a bit of perspective and emphasises the reality that you’re not alone.
4. To encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.
A good friend will notice and try to help if he or she feels your lifestyle habits are getting in the way of living a good life. Often, family are too close to see things objectively, or they are too close for you to seriously take notice of their opinions(!). A good friend can help eradicate bad habits before they become too difficult to handle. In a healthy friendship, friends will encourage each other to be their best selves; this is to be kind to the body, mind and soul of a person and these friendships are probably more prevalent as one gets older. True friends have no problem telling you the truth, because they trust you will take their words seriously. Everyone needs a reality check once in a while and who better to give us that than those close to us?
5. Socially engaged adults age more successfully.
According to surveys of women over age 60, those who are socially engaged and visit with friends and family throughout the week are happier as they age.
6. Being social boosts your immune system.
Being socially engaged leads to more positive emotions, which in turn may actually boost your body’s immune system and reduce the physical signs of stress, say health experts.
And there we have it.
Note: Maintaining a friendship takes hard work and effort, but it’s worth it as you can see! It’s also important to be a good friend yourself, providing others with as many of the benefits of friendship (infectious happiness, social support, someone to confide in, increasing self esteem etc) as you can. And it feels good to help others, and that only adds to your own happiness.
OK so, how do I know if I’ve found a good friend?
If hanging out with them doesn’t resonate with the true you and your aims and desires in life, then ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I friends with this person?
- Do I gain anything from this friendship?
- Am I giving anything of value into this relationship?
It’s interesting to note how many people we have in our lives who are just there because they feel they have to be. Take them out of your life and you’ll feel better for it. Negative friends just usurp our energy which can be used more effectively in a mutually giving and loving relationship.
A Little Note On Family Ties
As a muslim we are taught the importance point of keeping family relationships going, no matter what. Some advice from the fabulous website seekershub on this topic is:
Breaking family ties is not allowed. Keeping a distance with problematic family members is. God is Just. So do not worry. Focus on now. Focus on your mission in life and working with people who want to work with you and having good manners with those who do not. Also think of all the times our beloved Prophet ﷺ endured the hardship of others. This doesn’t mean that you let them (or anyone) walk all over you like a doormat, but it does mean that you interact with them in the best way that you can, and leave it at that.
Something to think about. Just like the food you eat says a lot about you, the friends you choose do too.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “The example of good company is like being in a perfumery, either remnants of the perfume remain on you or you will carry the perfume in your hands; and the example of bad company is like visiting the establishment of the blacksmith, where you will either be affected by the smoke or you will carry the scent of it!”
The famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that ‘We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with’. So in other words:
It seems no matter how much we want to be individuals and choose our own way, the people we hang around with the most will definitely influence us, whether we like it or not! That’s why it’s important to remember the choices we have in life and always try to be mindful who we choose to spend our quality time with. And of course, if they’re good friends, they’ll pray for you, or send you positive vibes (if that’s more your thing!) and generally ‘have your back’ in life, which is always a good thing!
Lastly, a note about company Vs loneliness:
The Prophet ﷺ said to one of his companions that “Loneliness is better than bad company, and good company is better than being alone; to speak good is better than being quiet, and to keep quiet is better than saying words of regret!” A reminder here to be mindful of the friends we make, realising that good company can be the making of you. This speaks volumes in terms of getting together with good friends regularly. On the other hand, loneliness is actually better for you when one is avoiding bad company. Also, the words we say can make or break a relationship and it is always a good idea to think before we speak and be mindful of what we say. A reminder to myself, as always, before anyone else!
And there we have it. A few thoughts on the Beauty of A Good Friendship. Have you found any other benefits from your friendships? This list is not exhaustive at all! Please share!
Until next time then,
Peace and love,
PS To help me on my journey to enoughism I will write down 3 things I am grateful for at the end of each post. These are:
1. My wonderful friends and family.
2. My wonderful parent-friends from my children’s various schools around the country. 😀
3. All the things my wonderful friends and family have taught me in life, this earth would surely be a dull place without you all. So thank you! You’re the best 😀.