by Dr. Alexander Wright ~ Psychologist
In my mind, I have the best friends in the world. I am sure most people feel that way about their nearest and dearest companions and that my friends is a beautiful thing. My oldest friend dates back to 5th grade in elementary school. And as the fates of friendship unfolded, he and I picked up with a group of spectacular souls early on in high school; a close knit brotherhood evolved and to date, the lot of us have been friends~brothers~comrades~companions~best mates for almost 30 rollercoaster years. I also have the great fortune of a best friend in my wife. Similarly, the two authentic souls pictured above have been my companions and best friends for 10 and 11 years respectively. As you all well know, a great friend comes with a colorful package of the most wondrous human strengths in character and action; loyalty, compassion, forgiveness, unconditional love, healing moments of laughter, unmitigated support in our darkest threads of life, and unequivocal commitment. To me, my friends are my family. Unfortunately, at times, a majority of us have experienced highly negative and toxic relationships we believed were friendships. These can be daunting but important learning opportunities for us all; a chance to gain insight and overcome your doubts. And when you have re discovered trust and truth and purity in friendship and companionship, it may save your life and will likely extend it at the very least. The health benefits of a true and trusting friendship are potent.
- Increase your sense of belonging and purpose.
- Boost your happiness and reduce your stress.
- Improve your self-confidence and self-worth.
- Good friendships seem to be excellent for heart health. A three-year study in Sweden consisting of over 13,000 men and women found that having few or no close friends increased the risk of having a first-time heart attack by about 50 percent.
- A 2000 study completed at UCLA in California found that having a circle of friends actually provides an alternative to the traditional fight-or-flight response to stress.
- A 2009 study found that people with the fewest friendship connections were those most likely to be dealing with depression, anxiety and heart disease.
- In 1989, David Spiegel, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, published a paper that indicated women with breast cancer who participated in a support group lived twice as long as those who didn’t and experienced less pain in the process.
- A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that single men face a 32 percent higher mortality risk across a lifetime when compared to married men. Single women face a 23 percent higher mortality risk when compared to married women.
This article is dedicated in gratitude to all of my boys (you know who you are), my wife, many family members, and of course my most special 4 legged friends. Thank you all for saving my life in every way a person (and dog) can. Eat clean, exercise a lot, make tons of mistakes, express appreciation for life, and hold on tight to your truest and most trusted friendships.
“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
~ Helen Keller