Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Friends and support and all that mushy stuff

This weekend I was browsing in a gift store and saw a book called "This Is Not the Life I Ordered." Since I could relate to the title, I picked it up and looked through it a bit. It was written by four very sucessful women, who have gone through deaths, divorces, job issues, family crises, and near-death experiences, and how they went through the ups-and-downs of life together.

I ended up buying the book (overpriced as it was at that swanky store), and read about half of it already. One thing that I read in there really stood out to me. And that was about the power of friendships.

Remember how I stated in an earlier post that I'm suddenly very interested in all things health-related? Well, in this book they mentioned a recent study on the effect of friendships on health. And this study proved that the more friends a woman had, the longer she was likely to live. Yes, that's right. Friends help you live longer.

It makes sense. In women's relationships, at least, stress is handled by talking it through with friends. We all know that it is unhealthy to bottle up feelings and stress inside, so venting to your close friends over coffee is actually very good for you.

To some, this may be great news. If you are surrounded by a close network of friends and family who you feel comfortable sharing your deepest secrets with, you're set.

But what about those who don't feel like they have that blessing of close friendships? Well, several options. As my first post detailed, blogging and other forms of internet networking are one way to form some sort of friendships. Another is to be a joiner. Join a book club, a gym, a workout class, a Bible study, a volunteer group, or a sports team. You'll naturally meet more people through these activities. Close friendships may not develop right away, but you'd be surprised how many friendships are formed.

I took an art photography class a few summers ago. By happenstance, all of the people who took the class were women. We varied in age, economic status, and marital status, but we all had a common interest in photography. Since that class, we have met several times to compare pictures, techniques, and to get caught up on each other's lives. You never know when or how you will make a new friend.

Where was the strangest place you made a friend?

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