Our friends hold us to the earth. They show us the best of ourselves, forgive us our frailties and keep us awake to our dreams. Emerson once said that “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.’ Not only does our own nature improve in the companionship of friendship, but we come to see the wonder and interconnectedness of nature more clearly in the embrace of the people who know us heart to heart. It is not surprising that building and maintaining friendships is one of the most important things you can do for your wellbeing. Research also shows that those of us with friends live the longest.
“It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.” Epicurus
Friends make us well. Whether dealing with depression or anxiety or even in going for a medical procedure, spending time with friends guarantees better results. Although science doesn’t know exactly how friendships boost our immune response and reduce our negative emotional experience and degree of illness, it is possible that having friends, both near and far is the most profound insurance we can invest in. Just knowing that our true friends are there, even when separated by thousands of miles is enough to sustain us and make us stronger.
“True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.” George Washington
And yet true friendship is a rare gift. Most of us are only blessed with just a handful of true and deep friendships in our life and the mystery and longevity of those connections become the folklore of each of our lives. Our oldest friends watch us grow and change and often outlive many other relationships in our life. For many people friendships are like a second family that we get to choose to be related to. Going through hard times with our close friends actually roots us to the relationships in ways that just good time friends might not understand. But the laughter over the years with our dearest friends is probably one of the most healing aspects of friendship. Our good friends get us, and they always get our jokes, sometime even before we do. Losing them is like losing a part of oneself.
“My friends are my estate.” Emily Dickins
I know that I would be lost without my friends to anchor me to my life and what it means to me. They are often the ones that I call on, when it stops making sense and yet I am often astonished at the weeks and sometimes months that go by since we have spoken. I realize over and over again what I have been missing as I settle into the conversation that seems like it ended just minutes ago. I am not alone in the conundrum that many women share, where we defer our most important friendships to deal with the stress of work and family. Yet it is precisely at this time when we need lean in closer to our friends and realize that the rest of our life work rests on the estate of our heart. If you only do one good thing for the earth this month, make it for your friend: carve out the space to connect and love your true friends.