Science has discovered a powerful new weapon that can help us “fight illness and depression, speed recovery, slow aging and prolong life.” That weapon is simply our friends. The New York Times reports that research is only just beginning to understand the impact our friendships and social networks have on our overall health.
“A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.
“In 2006, a study of nearly 3,000 nurses with breast cancer found that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. And notably, proximity and the amount of contact with a friend wasn’t associated with survival. Just having friends was protective.”
The article goes on to say that it’s not exactly clear why friendship has such a positive effect. But it does close with an interesting story about a study in which students were positioned at the base of a steep hill wearing a weighted backpack. They were asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some students were alone, and some stood next to friends. “The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.”
So email, text or call a friend – the ones who stand next to you in any given situation in your life – and say “thank you”… for making the hill look a little less steep.