Over a couple recent conversations, I discovered that not everyone has the deep friendships I’ve worked hard to cultivate since I drafted my goals a couple years ago and realized that close friendships give me a kind of happiness and comfort nothing else matches—and that I’d neglected the people most important to me.
I don’t mean people—acquaintances, contacts, buddies—seen at parties or in small groups to whom I can talk about a great deal of nothing. I mean people to whom I can confide, turn for help, rely on for support, and debate questions and concerns and issues.
In other posts, I’ve defined friendship, written about friends from different times in my life, noted the friends for whom I’d sacrifice almost anything, and even talked about the especial friendships between single women.
By now, we’ve all read the research on the importance of deep relationships to our mental and physical health. A six-year study found that friendships lower the risk of heart attack and stroke—only smoking cessation has as great an effect. Another study found that when faced with hiking a hill with a heavy load, people preparing for the challenge alongside a friend assessed the route as less steep than participants planning to summit it solo.
Do your own search on the topic: You’ll find reams of research confirming the importance of friendships. Yet likely all of it will seem obvious if you have close friends.
I’ve noticed the difference in my happiness, resilience, and health since I initiated a concerted effort to nurture and build my friendships. I wish I had more hours in the day to spend with the amazing people I count myself lucky to call friends, but I make it a point to carve out time for the people in my life who matter.
I make my friendships a priority. I hope you do, too.
Do you nurture your friendships? If so, how?