A recent study indicates that friendship improves your life in numerous ways, including boosting your immune system, sleep, cognitive health, and cardiovascular health. (I keep telling my clients to exercise, but now I want them to exercise with friends!) The study indicates that 4 friends is roughly the right number. Sadly, many of my clients have insufficient friendship networks.
The majority of my clients want friends, and are loyal, honest friends. Finding friends seems to be a bit of a trick, though. Identifying common interests seems to be a fruitful way of connecting. For my students (middle school, high school, college), they can join or establish a club. For non-students, using Meet Up or a Facebook group seems to generate friendship leads. I’ve also had folks take a Recreator class, or one of the classes through The Social Learning Project. (Not just friendships! We sometimes get a romance rolling in those classes! If there is enough interest, we could run that Dating workshop again.)
If you are struggling to expand your social network, you might consider joining a group. For those of you who prefer to read or study up before leaving the house, you might try Socially Curious by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke, or you might try Daniel Wendler’s books.
Friendships are healthy, and promote health. Apparently we should take friendships as seriously as any other health promoting activity, such as exercising or eating well. Imagine that: friendships are vital and deserving of our time and attention. Next time you want to shrug off a social event, think twice! If you want my help, let me know!
Now, get out there and expand your social network! (And thank you to my BFF for sending that NPR link to me.)