Good friendships are the stuff of life.
Our best friends are the people we depend on to nurture us, comfort us, and energize us, and our interactions with these men and women are life-giving, inspiring and frankly, make life worth living.
These relationships are founded on some core values and personality traits.
In fact, there is a wealth of scientific evidence showing just how much of an impact the quality of our friendships has in our lives.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, friends, “increase your sense of belonging and purpose, boost your happiness and reduce your stress, improve your self-confidence and self-worth, help you cope with traumas [such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one], encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits [and promote improved] overall health.”
- A longitudinal study of aging conducted by Australian researchers found that “greater social networks with friends and confidants had significant protective effects against mortality over a 10 year follow up period [whereas networks] with children and relatives were not significant predictors of mortality over the same follow up period.”
- A study of dementia in elderly women, researchers found that “larger social networks have a protective influence on cognitive function among elderly women.”
- And yet another study, conducted by neuroscientists at Ohio State University, found that social interaction can potentially decrease pain and increase recovery time in patients dealing with physical pain.
If you want a friendship that stands the test of time, it’s important you know which character traits you should you look for in a friend.
A good friend is one you readily and easily connect with. It was almost as if you knew each other from the start.
The relationship has a sense of ease and comfort that results from this sense of familiarity.
As you get to know each other you discover that you have shared values and interests in common. Perhaps, you like to do the same things, read the same kinds of books, watch the same kinds of movies. You might get up at the same time, like to eat the same kinds of foods, have similar beliefs about life, child raising, or interest in the same causes.
Good friends have heart for what you’re experiencing. They understand your pain with compassion and support AND they rejoice in your successes. They are your cheerleaders for everyday challenges and achievements.
A good friend listens with interest and responds supportively to your thoughts, feelings and ideas. Good listening includes reflecting back, as well as suggesting positive ideas. Good listeners are tuned into when in the conversation you need to talk, and when you need to hear back from them.
When your friend hears what you’ve shared, even if — and especially if — it’s something you have uncomfortable feelings about, she responds with acceptance and understanding and avoids judging you. She waits to give suggestions until you’re ready to hear them. She knows she doesn’t have to fix it.
Dr. Sharon Livingston is a master career coach, world-class researcher and best-selling author who co-founded Future Proof, a dynamic program that strategically and effectively guides people to the career of their dreams. Connect with her to ignite your career and transform your life.
This post first appeared at Your Tango
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