I am blessed with amazing friends and I am even luckier that they come from a wide range of backgrounds and they have a variety of interests. I have my friends from the gym who will listen to me explain why eating half of the bag of Doritos seemed like a good idea last night and who commiserate with me about the fact that the older I am, the more exercise it seems to take to maintain my body.
My teaching buddies share stories and laughter about the adventures that are inevitable when dealing with children. They are there to support me on those days when I wonder out loud if Barnes and Noble is hiring because that would be so much quieter than the chaos that was my day. They listen knowingly when I tell them about the student who finally got it and help me figure out something to love about the boy who sits in the back of the class and is just trying to drive me insane.
I have my friends from karate who understand why a petite, kind, fifty something woman loves sparring and the physical challenge of martial arts.
A special friend
All of these friends are dear to me and they contribute to my happiness in different ways, but I have one friend who does not fit into a special niche or belong to just one group. Her friendship seeps into all the corners of my life, and my life is better because of her.
Eleana is a Latina fireball. When she enters a room you can feel the energy and people are naturally attracted to her. She is one of those people that you can describe as a light. She is the friend that I can tell everything to and be completely honest about anything. She lifts me up no matter what and she is always happy for my accomplishments instead of being jealous.
We support each other and know that the other is there no matter what happens. We have to call each other at least once a day and I never run out of things to talk about with her. My family smiles when I mention her because they know how much she does for me.
Another close friend recently commented that Eleana and I are good for each other and that we need each other.
How do friendships make a difference?
My friendships may play an even more important role than I realize. The power of friendship can actually be as vital to us as air and water. We need that love and support that comes from other people. We need an outlet to vent about the good and bad that happens to us. Most of all we need laughter. Eleana and I spend a great deal of time laughing and I always have felt that laughter can be a powerful medicine. It always lifts you up.
Friendship gives us a feeling of connection, a chance to share our life and the lives of others. It stimulates our brains as we try to help our friends with problems and issues.
In his book Blue Zones, Dan Buettner examines the reasons why certain people live to be 100 or more. He mentions that each of the people who have lived to be one hundred and beyond have a network of friends that they interact with every day.
- Friendship seems to cut the risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. This may be because stress causes havoc to the body, and friendship can diffuse the effects of stress. It may also be because friends encourage us to take better care of ourselves.
- People with strong friendships tend to suffer less from depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness. Older adults are less likely to develop dementia when they have satisfying relationships.
Aristotle said “Friendship is a kind of virtue, or implies virtue and it is also most necessary for living. Nobody would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other good things.”
Our hectic lives can make finding room for friends difficult but it is important for us to take the time to cultivate these relationships. Our friendships can affect every aspect of our lives so it makes sense that we should make our friendships as strong as possible.
The simplest things in life seem to always be the best for us and friendship is a prime example. Interact with the people whom you enjoy and create relationships that could enhance your life and your friends. While you are busy doing that, I have to go call Eleana.
Jen Bonn is a free lance writer and teacher from Atlanta, Ga. She recently wrote an article for Rest Ministries called, We Could All Use More Joe. She enjoys writing about a variety of subjects and she recently published a book of teaching tips called Stay Away From The Girl’s Bathroom and Other Teaching Tips. This book is available from www.deedspublishing.com . She is passionate about running, karate, reading and writing. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, three children and a variety of animals. Life is never dull around her house!