"There are not many things in life so beautiful as true friendship, and not many things more uncommon."
Recent studies revealed that Americans have 1/3 less friends today than they did twenty years ago. Although technology is helping us to work faster and more efficiently, it is also keeping people from having the personal touch that they once experienced. One could argue that technology has allowed connections that other would not exist for example, emails and recent social network boom in recent years-Myspace, Facebook, Skype, and even text messaging.
Regardless of how we connect with our friends, convenience has become a commodity and often times friendship sufferers as a result of the lack of personal interaction. There are several other legitimate factors that we can think of that makes it difficult to keep in touch with our friends regardless of distance; however, to the degree that we value relationships, we should make necessary means to stay connected. We may want to take a closer look at friends according to recent landmark UCLA research on Women and Friendship.
Having friends can actually help you to live better and longer according to scientists. The benefits of having friends is so astounding, that scientists from UCLA testify to that fact being with your friends can decrease the stomach-quivering stress that most people encounter on a regular basis.
Let's assume that it's healthy friendships, as we know that sometimes being around the certain friends can bring on stress as appose to reduce stress!
Webster's 1828 definition of friendship is "one who has sufficient interest to serve another; genuine, pure real, not counterfeit, adulterated or false. True friendship is a noble and virtuous attachment, springing from a pure source, a respect for worth or amiable qualities . "
I recently came across a quote that is an accurate depiction true friend, "A faithful friend is like a strong defense, he that finds such a one has found a treasure." If you've watched the movie, "National Treasure," you know those treasure hunters go through extremes to find that which is valuable. Friends are described as treasures because it is also something that has to be searched out. It is rare that you will find such a treasure of a friend in your life merely by chance.
I love the other point this quote makes-a faithful friends is a strong defense. Defense is described as, any thing that opposes attack, violence, danger or injury; any thing that secures the person, fortification; guard; protection; security. A wall, a barricade, safeguard. Just as God is the defense of the correcteous, as a faithful friend is a defense to one another.
If we place "strong" in front of each of those verbs: guard, security, barricade, safeguard, we can accurately say, a faithful friend is a strong guard, a strong security, a strong barricade, and a strong guard. Now that is "The Power of Friendship!"
Solomon who was the wisest man in all the world quotes in Ecclesiastes, "Two people are better off than one; for they can help each other succeed. in real trouble. " (NLV)
In fact friendship is so vital for the quality of life we have that a significant study by UCLA shows that women react to stress with a stream of brain chemicals that cause them to make and maintain friendships with other women.
The hormone "oxytocin" is released as a part of this stress reaction in women that encourages her to tend to children or be with her friends. Have you noticed that even after a long stressful day at work, that new mom's can not wait to get home to be with their baby?
When women take part in a nurturing friendship relationship, research shows that more "oxytocin" gets released, which then further reduces stress and creates a calming effect. This calming effect does not take place in men, unfortunately. The reason that this is not as effective in men is because when men have stress, they produce high levels of testosterone which reduces the effects of "oxytocin" release rather then promote it. Estrogen levels in women enhance oxytocin release.
"What is oxytocin?" It is considered to be the "love" hormone that causes attachment, connection, nurturing, bonding, and mothering. It's even the same hormone that is released when mother bonds with her baby at birth.
Repetitive research has discovered that social connections decrease the risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. You can cut your risk of death by 60% just having a great number of friends over a 9 year period. These finds are so incredible that studies have concluded that not having close friends or confidants was as damaging to your health as being a smoker or overweight!
According Dr. Josselson, PHD, and co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendship; "Women should be careful and do not put their girlfriends on the back burners. Every time we get over busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, push them right to the back burner. really unfortunate because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. " There is a comforting effect that women experience when in one another's presence.
Getting together with our girlfriends in a healthy atmosphere fosters intimate, a closeness, times of laughter, joy, and bonding, which extremely makes us healthy and happier! Ladies, lets schedule some girl time and get those oxytocin hormones flowing. You heard the saying, "If mama's happy-everyone's happy!" Do not neglect those treasures! "Life's truest happiness is found in friendships we make along the way."
Glamor Magazine, April 2008