• 5 Reasons to Make Friends a Higher Priority This Year

    friends, friendship, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist
    It’s the new year and this is a time that I tend both reflect and look ahead. When thinking about friendships and seeing some people who are close to me struggling in this area, the idea of creating this post came to mind. I hope you find it helpful.

    This year my resolution is to experience more connection with others. And my intention is to purposely do something to make that happen. I’ve already started contacting some friends I haven’t seen in a while and we are making arrangements to spend more time with each other.

    But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s explore why good friends truly are so important to our well-being.

    The vast majority of us – even those of who tend to be shy – often find that life is so much richer when you experience it in the company of others. Friends improve the quality of our lives. They can help us grow and change.

    I’ve had some friends for many years, and we’ve witnessed each other’s tragedies and triumphs. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. Sometimes we disagree. We’ve shared our deepest thoughts and feelings. We’ve comforted each other during the inevitable storms of life. We’ve also celebrated those wonderful milestones in our lives. And through the years, we mostly just feel so incredibly grateful that we’re in each other’s life.

    Friends. Who needs them? We do!

    Friendships help us grow and are vital to one’s well-being. But they are all too often neglected, especially when our lives are so incredibly busy or our focus is on the new job or children. But friendships take time to build and they can’t be artificially created to have any longevity.

    You have to put some conscious effort into creating and cultivating friends. And social media doesn’t count. Real “face time” is what’s needed to make it meaningful. If distance doesn’t allow you to be in person, you can simply pick up the phone.

    Good friends are worth the effort

    When you’re no longer in school it’s harder to deeply connect with someone. However, you can give of your time.

    If you have a partner and/or family, most likely they are the ones that you spend most of your time with. But I’d encourage you to make a point that at least once a month you schedule an activity with a friend. It could be dinner, a walk or a local event – something that you would both enjoy.

    There is only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.
    – Leo Christopher

    Good for your health

    Recent research has come to pass about the significance of friends, particularly as we age. It’s is so crucial, in fact, that having supportive friendships in old age was found to be a stronger predictor of wellbeing than having strong family connections. It has even been found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

    friends, resolutions, life goals, friendships, fun, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    We all know it’s best to have a friend as an accountability partner when taking on new challenges like losing weight, getting clean and sober, or starting a new exercise program. They increase our chance of success by up to 85%.

    Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including high blood pressure, depression, and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).

    But when it comes down to it, when we are with good friends, we just simply feel better.

    Reality check

    One of the best things about friends is that they can be an incredible sounding board outside of family bias. You can get an honest answer out of a friend when you say, “Do I look fat in this?” A good friend will tell you the truth. You can’t always ask your partner for the truth with that question!

    Friends are the best source to check your thinking about that sticky job situation, the new love interest that has been bread-crumbing you or the angry social media post you want to write. They help talk you down from the ledge (figuratively) and keep your sanity in check.

    friends, resolutions, life goals, friendships, fun, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    Help with loneliness and depression

    One of the key ways to break out of a cycle of loneliness is to spend time with friends. It helps you get outside of your own head and put your attention on someone else.

    Spending time with friends when you have the blues gives you the opportunity to share how you’re feeling. You may find that they also have faced similar issues. They can be an incredible source of support during troubled times. It’s very true when they say that, “pain shared, is pain halved.”

    friends, resolutions, life goals, friendships, fun, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    There’s nothing like going out with a friend who can put a smile on your face or get you to laugh. If you’re feeling down, reach out to a friend and make a date to spend some time together. You can even ask for them to check on you to make sure you’re moving through the source of your upset.

    You can have more than one BFF!

    I actually have two BFF’s. One is my wife – my spouse BFF, and the other is a friend I’ve known for many years who is my non-spouse BFF. Each fulfills similar and different needs so I feel particularly blessed!

    And yes, there’s an app for that!

    Bumble has developed an app Bumble BFF. Bumble is getting a great response from their followers. This is a great app if you tend to be shy, or if you’ve just moved to a new city! Like the dating app, Bumble BFF is an app to meet new friends. While it may be a challenge to put yourself out there, it’s one and fun new way to find and make new friends.

    Fun!

    One final word. Like so many of us, I know I can get bogged down with work, and while I love spending time with my wife, who is absolutely my primary best friend, sometimes we just need some time apart to spend with our friends.

    friends, resolutions, life goals, friendships, fun, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    If it’s a girl’s night out or catching a movie with a co-worker, sometimes good times with friends is just what the doctor ordered to get you out and shake things up. Road trip anybody?!

    As always, I hope that this article was helpful. It’s really true that we can’t pick our families but we can pick our friends. If you would like to explore any challenges you may be having with current friendships or would like to explore new friendships, feel free to contact me for a free fifteen- minute phone consultation. I’m more than happy to help out in any way I can.

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