Develop Long Term Friendships

8/27/2012 10:21:47 PM

Do you have a trusted confidante with whom you can share your innermost feelings and who has your best interests at heart? Someone who will both encourage you and hold you accountable when your spiritual life, relationships, or actions get off track? Someone you can turn to when life throws you a curveball? A person of your gender with whom you can connect on a regular basis?
If your answers are “No,” this should become a life priority for you.  Here’s why: Friendship—the enduring, here-til-the-end-for-you, holding-you-accountable kind—is good for you!

If you need proof, simply check the clinical studies.  People with long-time friends live longer. They experience less stress. They are more likely to survive cancer. They even contract fewer colds! Seriously!
Just last year, Virginia Tech researchers took a group of students from the University of Virginia to the base of a steep hill, fitted them with a weighted backpack, and asked them to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others stood alone.
Interestingly, the students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the hill’s steepness—and the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared to them!
This principle holds true across the board. Trusted friends make our life journey smoother (especially when life hands us a lemon!) and our experiences all the richer.
Granted, it takes time and effort to build a trusted friendship of that caliber. It’s easy today to be lulled by the superficial “friendship” that Facebook, social media, and online gaming offer. But, remember that true friendship takes time: getting to know each other, identifying and building on shared values, accumulating a library of shared memories, weathering conflict and crisis, and more. It’s all worth the investment, and the best part is, it’s never too late.  (I agree with Professor Glenn Sparks, Communications Professor and author of a recent friendship study who put it well: “Making friends is like managing a bank account. You must make investments, and it is never too early to start.")
Who among your closest friends of the same gender do you consider to be your most trusted confidante? How have you invested in that relationship throughout your life, as well as cultivating and developing new ones?

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