The Power of Friending
There are some positions in life that cannot be replaced. One of those is the job of being an older sister. I don’t talk to all of my family, but I definitely appreciate the way one sister in particular who always has my back.
Maria is my oldest sister who I always have been able to talk to, someone who withholds judgment and, most importantly, is down to Earth. That is a big plus for me. She has never made me feel like there was any sort of sibling rivalry between us.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case with siblings or family members. I’m convinced it takes more than blood for someone to be a sister or a brother, mother or father. There are plenty of people who have children, but the ability doesn’t necessarily make them good parents. And in life, you can’t expect to venture out alone holding up the American Dream, to be all you can potentially be, without the fear of failing and having someone in your life (blood or not) there ready to catch you when you fall, to tell you they believe in you. The most important thing in life is having loved ones nearby.
According to WebMD, good friends are good for you. The article suggests that moral support helped 61 women who where battling with advanced ovarian cancer. Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, pointed out that “friends help you face adverse events.” Cohen added:
“They provide material aid, emotional support, and information that helps you deal with the stressors. There may be broader effects as well. Friends encourage you to take better care of yourself. And people with wider social networks are higher in self-esteem, and they feel they have more control over their lives.”
The benefits of having friends you can count on far outweigh the headache of dealing with their quirks, negative habits, or annoying idiosyncrasies and various personality differences. Some individuals are fortunate enough to have family and friends nearby. However, for some of us who moved a lot for various reasons, close friends and family might be scattered throughout the country and even the world. A study conducted on healthy aging found that people with close family and friends were less likely to suffer from chronic illness or mortality.
Another longitudinal study of 823 elderly participants found that the 9 percent who reported high levels of loneliness went on to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. According to an about.com article by Sharon Basarba on how to make friends when you’re older, there are additional health benefits tied to building your circle of friends:
“The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) encourage us to maintain contact with others, based on research suggesting social connections help prevent illnesses like depression, heart disease, and mortality in general.”
The Bottom Line:
If you are missing your family, make it a point to invest time in seeing them. I flew my oldest sister Maria out and it’s been a blessing. There is nothing more important than your mental and emotional health. Seeing family and also making it a point to make new friends is extremely vital. Remember, there is a difference between being alone vs. being lonely. Even if you are alone or living alone, you can do something about your state of mind. There are meetup groups that are perfect for making new friends, especially if you just moved to a new city or state. Don’t be shy to reach out to the acquaintances you do have in your life. A relationship, romantic or platonic, takes work. Friendship cannot grow by itself, and the effort you put into growing current relationships will only benefit your life in so many positive ways.